Philadelphia Eagles

Brandon Graham laughed off report, but then got a little mad

Brandon Graham laughed off report, but then got a little mad

Brandon Graham returned to the NovaCare Complex earlier this week with an Instagram video and a tweeted statement (see story).

The only reason this was noteworthy was because of a Philadelphia Inquirer report that said Graham was preparing to stay away from the Eagles' OTAs and possibly the mandatory minicamp because he was unhappy with his contract. 

Just after that report, a league source told that there was "no contract dispute." 

While Graham was away from Philly last week (in his hometown of Detroit), he returned this week and said he will be at OTAs when they start on May 23. 

On Wednesday, he sat down with Michael Barkann on Philly Sports Talk to further address the report that he denies. 

"At first, I was just laughing at it because obviously, you know, you want to get more money and stuff like that, but I mean, this wasn't the time or place for it," Graham said. "I felt like once it got blown up, I kinda got a little mad, because I'm like, 'Man, you got all these fans attacking me and don't even know the real [story].' 

"I figured I'd spend my time with my family because that was the whole point of me going back and then I'll address it when I get back. That's why I was kind of off social media and stuff like that because it started to make me a little angry because of some of the fans coming at me, so I just kind of got off of it. And then when I got back, I addressed it. I'm happy to let people know I'm here." 

Graham, 29, has two years left on the contract extension he signed in 2015. He will be paid $6.5 million with $7.5 million cap hits in each of the next two years. 

Barkann sought further clarification about Graham's contract. 

Has he or his agent been pursuing a new deal? 

"No, not right now," Graham said. "I mean because obviously, I'm happy with what I got right now. I'm just trying to really win. Really be the leader. I've got too much on my plate right now, as far as being a vet and a lot of guys looking up to me, so I want to make sure I'm there and there for this team."

Graham, who talked earlier in the spring about his goal to become more of a leader, is one of the longest-tenured players on the team. And he can have a big role in the development of rookie Derek Barnett. 

The Eagles drafted Barnett with the 14th pick last month. When the report about Graham's possible holdout surfaced, many speculated that the pick could have been a part of the problem. 

"I'm at the point now where, man, I'm welcoming whoever they bring in because I know we all have one goal and that's to win the championship," he said. "I've been here eight years, now going on eight years, and I just want to win, man. Because I want us to be able to ride up Broad Street and have some fun. And just bring something to this town and bring some real good energy into this town with a championship."

In addition to Graham and Barnett, the Eagles still have Vinny Curry and they also signed Chris Long during the offseason. Graham is convinced the team's depth along the line will be better this season and he's hoping to avoid any long team sack droughts. 

"I think with [Barnett], he's going to bring the pressure on the opposite edge and we're going to have some fun," Graham said. "He's definitely going to up the sacks for us this year and help us win."

Current and former Eagles discuss football, future amid 'alarming' CTE study

Current and former Eagles discuss football, future amid 'alarming' CTE study

This is the time of year usually reserved for folks to get excited about football. Training camps around the NFL are back and it won't be long before the 2017 regular season starts. 

This week, though, the beaming sun of training camp was put on hold as the NFL's black cloud came back into focus. 

"That's the elephant in the room that a lot of people don't want to talk about," Brandon Graham said on Wednesday. 

More troubling results about the correlation between playing football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) were published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association

The study examined the brains of 202 deceased football players and showed that 177 of them suffered from the brain disease. Of the 111 brains from former NFL players, 110 of them were diagnosed with CTE. 

It's necessary to remember that many of the families of players submitted their brains because of symptoms shown while they were still living. So the study wasn't just a random one of a cross-section of football. 

Still, it's scary. 

It's scary for those players who have already retired and are either starting to feel the effects or are morbidly awaiting their arrival while hoping they don't come. And it's scary for current players who wonder what their quality of life will be like in 25 or 30 years. 

On Wednesday, as the Eagles' veterans began to arrive at the NovaCare Complex, several were asked about the study and about their thoughts on CTE and the NFL. 

Malcolm Jenkins hadn't yet read the study by the time he entered the locker room on Wednesday afternoon, but was quickly filled in about its results, about the 110 out of 111 NFL brains to show CTE. 

"That's probably what I assumed anyway," Jenkins said. "But at the end of the day, everybody who puts on a helmet, puts on shoulder pads, has to kind of weigh their own options, weigh the risk-reward. As long as you can make that educated decision, I think it's up to the individual."

Jenkins said he "100 percent" thinks about how long he wants to play in the NFL. For him, it's all about weighing the risk vs. the reward. Jenkins' goal is to play at least 10 years in the NFL — this will be Year 9 — and then analyze it year to year. Jenkins, who has other interests outside of football, most notably his foray into fashion, said he tries to take steps to ensure his body is taken care of. The scary part about CTE, though, is that the symptoms sometimes show up much later. 

Now 29, Jenkins is a father. Would he let his kids play football? 

"Yeah, I would let my kids play," he said. "Simply because, obviously, that's a huge risk, but the amount of things this game has given me, the amount of lessons it's taught me, I wouldn't change a thing. I think there's definitely value in this game. There's a reason that it's the highest grossing game out there. The amount of things that I've learned playing this game that have transitioned off the field into life itself is something I would always encourage."

Like Jenkins, Lane Johnson's goal is to play at least 10 years in the NFL; this will be Year 5. But unlike Jenkins, Johnson said he might actually want to steer his son to play basketball instead of football. "They get all the guaranteed money nowadays," he said. 

But if his son did want to play football, Johnson wouldn't stand in his way. 

"Yeah, I'm not going to force him into anything," Johnson said. "But if he wanted to, yeah. But there's definitely safety measures, the right way of tackling, the right way of hitting. There are ways around it."

Even knowing what he does now, Johnson said he'd still play football. He claimed to love the game too much to think about doing something else. 

"It's probably not going to affect us so much now, but come back when I'm 50 and do an interview and see if you can tell the difference," Johnson said smiling, before turning serious. "It's definitely concerning. It's alarming." 

The brains of offensive linemen in the study showed the highest percentage of CTE diagnoses, which didn't come as much of a surprise to right guard Brandon Brooks.

Brooks, 27, and entering Year 6, explained: "Because we're hitting our head every play. Running the ball, pass blocking. I think the kind of misconception is that people like safeties, receivers get the big hits, but it's not the big hits. It does have a correlation, but if you're getting your head hit every play constantly, whether it's practice from when you're a little kid up until now, or in the games, obviously, it's going to have some type of effect."

Brooks has had one documented concussion in his career but admitted he doesn't know how many other times he's had one and shaken it off. He said as players get older, they start to think about if the risk outweighs the reward a little more. 

But it doesn't change the outlook for his career now. 

"Nah. I'm six years in now," Brooks said. "It is what it is. I look at it like if something were to happen to me, it's more of like a sacrifice for my wife and kids for the future. An opportunity for them to change their life and their futures. As grim as it is to say, I've played long enough that it's either going to happen or it's not. I don't look at it like I'm going to change my career path. I chose to play the game I love."

Graham, like the others, loves football, too, but if he knew everything he knows now about the connection between football and CTE, he'd at least think about it more. 

"I'd probably play baseball," he said. "You're right. I probably would have thought about it a little bit. I don't know. I think the way my attitude is, the way I like hitting people and going out there, man, I don't know. It's kind of tough."

While the players in the locker room have to think about their distant futures, some Eagles greats have to think about the next few years and wonder if CTE will hit them the way it has their former peers. 

Brian Dawkins, Harold Carmichael and Mike Quick all answered questions on Wednesday about the new CTE study. 

"No, it does not [concern me]," said Dawkins, 43, who was known for his violent style of play. "I did everything I could as far as the things that I put in my body to help hopefully offset some of those things. If something happens later on in life, I'll deal with it. But as of right now, I'm a blessed man, being able to still be around football and still help this organization out."

All three men seemed to agree that today's game is safer than when they played. The NFL has taken strides in an attempt to limit heavy blows that could cause damage.  

Carmichael, 67, remembered his playing days when clotheslining players was legal and defenseless receivers were just easy targets. 

"I'm not taking anything away from these guys," he said. "They're still hitting hard, guys are still playing hard. They're real pros out there still. The rules have changed a lot and I agree with some of the stuff. It helps the guys and protects the guys from really being seriously injured."

Quick, 58, also acknowledged the rule changes the NFL has implemented, but noted there doesn't seem to be any way to completely eliminate the concussion danger in football. It's always going to be a physical game. 

Quick was asked how lucky he felt to not feel any CTE symptoms. 

"Well, who knows? I don't know if I can say I'm not dealing with it," he answered. "I think my life's pretty good. But I don't know what it's going to be like five years from now, 10 years from now. Of course, I had concussions like many other guys. I played in the league for nine years. Don't know what the long-term effect is going to be on me. I don't know."

NFL Notes: Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott interacts with fans, shuns media as issues swirl

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NFL Notes: Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott interacts with fans, shuns media as issues swirl

OXNARD, Calif. -- Ezekiel Elliott stopped for a few moments to greet military personnel and pose for a few pictures on the opening day of training camp.

Just like that, the star running back of the Dallas Cowboys darted out of a large crowd of reporters and ran toward a fence to sign a few autographs.

Last year's NFL rushing leader as a rookie isn't talking to media members because of lingering issues off the field, but Elliott is still hamming it up with adoring fans. And he's also going through complete workouts a year after a hamstring issue limited his time in camp.

"I'm not even worrying about Zeke because that guy loves football," said receiver Dez Bryant, who had his share of trouble upon entering the league in 2010.

"I understand it's more than football. He's got a great supporting cast and he can't lose with guys like us around him" (see full story).

Jets: Whitehead claimed off waiversafter identity snafu
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets claimed wide receiver-kick returner Lucky Whitehead on Wednesday, two days after the Cowboys cut him following a shoplifting charge in what turned out to be a case of mistaken identity.

A man used Whitehead's identity to steal $40 worth of food and drink from a Virginia convenience store in June. Dallas released him Monday after reports that Whitehead was arrested and subsequently cited for missing a court hearing.

The Jets, desperate for help at receiver, claimed the three-year veteran and waived receiver Devin Street.

Whitehead appeared in 30 games the past two seasons with the Cowboys. He averaged 25.6 yards on 33 kick returns and 6.9 yards on 44 punt returns, and had nine receptions as a reserve receiver.

When the charges against Whitehead were announced, his agent, Dave Rich, contended that his client wasn't in Virginia at the time of the reported arrest. Police subsequently said they are seeking the person who used the identity of Rodney Darnell Whitehead Jr., the receiver's given name.

Whitehead could file a grievance with the players' union about his release (see full story).

Browns: Top pick Garrett ready for camp
BEREA, Ohio -- The Cleveland Browns already have their first win: Myles Garrett is ready for training camp.

The rookie defensive end and No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft has recovered from a foot sprain and will be on the field Thursday when Cleveland opens camp following a miserable 1-15 season.

Garrett suffered a left lateral foot sprain while rushing quarterback Brock Osweiler during minicamp in June. He was placed in a walking boot and there was some concern that he might be sidelined for an extensive period.

However, coach Hue Jackson said Wednesday that Garrett is "totally healthy" and will be on the field for the team's first workout. Garrett will be monitored during practices and it's possible he could be kept out of some drills.

"We will definitely monitor him but I think he's totally healthy, maybe hasn't done all the conditioning that you like to see right before training camp," Jackson said. "But I think he's up to speed and ready to go. And he's looking forward to it" (see full story).

Vikings: Pro Bowl DE Griffen gets extension
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings have signed two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Everson Griffen to a contract extension.

Griffen's deal was done Wednesday, when veteran players reported to training camp at Minnesota State University in Mankato.

Griffen's previous contract, which was signed in 2014, had two years remaining. Griffen has 48 sacks in seven seasons with the Vikings, who drafted him in the fourth round in 2010 out of USC. His tenure is the second longest on the team. Since becoming a full-time starter in 2014, Griffen has 30 sacks, the fifth most in the league during that span (see full story).

Falcons: Divers search lake for Jones’ $100K-plus earring
GAINESVILLE, Ga. -- An NFL star's diamond earring valued at more than $100,000 is now presumed lost on the murky bottom of a Georgia lake.

WXIA-TV reported Tuesday that Atlanta Falcons star wide receiver Julio Jones lost it when he hit a boat wake and took a spill while jet skiing in Lake Lanier, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) outside Atlanta.

He resurfaced but his pricey earring didn't.

SCUBA divers have been searching the lake bottom, hoping to capture a flashlight's reflection off the jewelry amid old trees that have been submerged since the man-made lake's creation in the 1950s.

So far, no luck.

Falcons training camp begins Thursday and goes through Aug. 4. The first preseason game is Aug. 26 against the Arizona Cardinals, the grand opening of Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.