PHILADELPHIA — Brandon Graham has no idea why he has been so fortunate, but he’s not one to question it.
The Eagles’ loquacious defensive end is in his 13th NFL season, all with Philadelphia, and he’s preparing to play in his second Super Bowl in five years.
“Man, it’s definitely a blessing because it took me eight years to get to the first one,’’ Graham said Thursday before the Eagles’ first practice for Super Bowl LVII against the Chiefs in Glendale, Ariz. “I always believed I’d get to one, but two now? Man.’’
Graham, despite being 34 years old and coming off a season-ending ruptured Achilles tendon in Week 2 last year, isn’t just along for the ride this year for the Eagles. He recorded a career-high 11 sacks as one of the keys to the team’s ferocious pass rush.
He, too, was no accidental tourist in that first Super Bowl in 2018, making the play of his life to clinch a riveting 41-33 win over the Patriots in Super Bowl LII with a strip-sack of Tom Brady. That play thwarted yet another epic comeback drive by the New England quarterback, who’d ripped the heart out of the Falcons with an epic rally from a 28-3 deficit the year before.
Super Bowl LII is known most for Eagles backup quarterback Nick Foles and the “Philly Special’’ trick play that gave them a 22-12 lead at the half.
But the deal was sealed that night by Graham’s sack of Brady with 2:09 remaining and the Eagles clinging to a 38-33 lead in a game in which neither defense was able to stop the other offense.
“It changed my life,’’ Graham said Thursday of that sack. “It’s definitely a life-changer, man. Can’t nobody take that one away. Playing against Brady in the Super Bowl, somebody who you know has put daggers in people’s hearts with those drives.’’
Then Graham, like Brady a Michigan grad, went light-hearted, as he does better than anyone in the Eagles’ locker room, and joked: “If anything, I’m happy because it was another Michigan guy, something that I can always go back to Michigan and if I see Brady, we can always have a good conversation about that one.’’
Brady, never known as the most graceful of losers, spit out these words after that game: “They made one good play at the right time.”
“I’m happy that I was able to do that in my career — especially with how it went in the beginning,’’ Graham said.
After he was drafted 13th overall in 2010, Graham didn’t become a regular starter for the Eagles until after his sixth season. He started only 23 of the first 80 games he played and recorded just 23.5 sacks in that span. He has 46.5 sacks in six seasons since (not counting the 2021 season, lost to the Achilles injury).
“To make a play like that and in a town that never had a [Super Bowl] championship and we finally brought one … it changed my trajectory of how people view me as a player,’’ Graham said. “And it’s just gotten better ever since.’’
Graham beat Patriots guard Shaq Mason on that fateful play and hit Brady’s arm, dislodging the ball, which was recovered by rookie Derek Barnett. Four plays later, the Eagles kicked a field goal to clinch their first Super Bowl victory.
Maybe there should be a statue of Graham outside of Lincoln Financial Field instead of the one of Foles and coach Doug Pederson. Because the “Philly Special’’ provided the flash, but the Graham sack delivered the cash.
Five years removed from that life-altering play, Graham remains part of the heart and soul of the Eagles. As one of a small group of players on the roster who played in that Super Bowl, he’s also an invaluable resource for head coach Nick Sirianni.
“He’s definitely a great leader, great teammate, a perfect guy for young guys to look up to and emulate, understand how to come to work every day and have a good attitude,’’ safety Marcus Epps told The Post.
“He’s one of the guys I’ve grown closest to,’’ Eagles defensive end Robert Quinn, who was acquired in an October trade, told The Post. “Knowing him as a football player and as a human being, he’s one of a kind. He has a lot of personality, but has some seriousness to him, too. Everyone gravitates toward him. The way God wanted him to be is as an angel on this earth and in this locker room.’’