The Eagles were presented with an immediate task upon the arrival of Doug Pederson back in 2016 - to improve the interior of their offensive line.
After shuffling through journeymen linemen such as Allen Barbre, Matt Tobin, and Andrew Gardner, the Eagles returned to their roots of investing in the trenches.
After a solid four seasons with the Houston Texans, Brandon Brooks hit the open market after Houston had selected him in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft. The Eagles wasted no time showing their interest in Brooks as he described feeling the most wanted by Philadelphia while being a free agent.
“From the get-go, I felt most wanted by them. I had guys texting me, and I don't believe coach forced them to,” Brooks told Eagle Maven back in 2016. “I believe they genuinely wanted me here. My agent played here, so he knew what Philly was like. I just heard nothing but good things about it. I was excited. I firmly believe I made the best choice possible from every angle.”
Indeed, Brooks made the best choice possible. The right guard reached a new level of dominance with the Eagles under Jeff Stoutland’s coaching. The right side of Philadelphia’s offensive line was more than solidified. It was arguably the best in the entire sport during three seasons (2016-2018).
But Brooks’ impact on the city goes beyond his accomplishments on the football field. The right guard has shed light on mental health and his battle with anxiety.
“It has always been a part of me, it will always be a part of me, and it will always be something that I deal with,” Brooks said during Wednesday's retirement press conference. “I just want to be known as a person who was transparent, a person who just wanted to really just help others by sharing my story. It’ll always be a part of my story; I just try to be truthful and transparent about it.”
Brooks’ bravery to shine a light on mental health has helped many off the football field.
One of the top right guards in the league was acknowledging to the entire world that he wasn’t okay — and to Brooks, that was okay, which was the message he was bestowing for those struggling.
When my father passed away during a fatal car accident, Brooks came across the story of him saving my sister during the process of the crash. He reached out to me and cared.
The Eagles' dominant offensive guard, who played a pivotal part in bringing a championship to the city of Philadelphia, took time out of his life to assure my belief in the inspiration my father’s story was.
My dad struggled with anxiety and found a way to relate to a football player, athletes we had always looked up to.
When I needed a pick me up during my darkest days, that very athlete felt compelled to message me, and we both were able to come away inspired by what human beings can overcome even when our mental health is in bad shape.
Football gave us a sport to idolize thousands of exciting athletes from afar.
Their stories and journeys can inspire us without even knowing the person personally, but Brooks made himself vulnerable to the city of Philadelphia and the Eagles fan base.
And it opened the doors for us to accept the fact we aren’t okay and it's okay to be open about it.
"First and foremost, you're getting a guy who works his butt off every day. My dad instilled a great work ethic in me at an early age," Brooks told SI's Eagle Maven in 2016. "I'm not much of a talker. I'm a doer. I can sit here and tell you I'm going to do this, that, and the other. I need to show the fans that I'm all about doing my best and that I'm here to win championships. I've come here to work."
Mission accomplished, Brooks.
Not only did you play a prominent role in bringing the city of Philadelphia its first-ever championship, but you understood the demanding brotherly love nature of the town the moment you arrived.
Thank you, Brandon Brooks, on behalf of Philadelphia, Houston, and the people who needed your story. The bravery and perseverance shown will never be forgotten by those impacted by your journey.
When the Eagles needed a right guard, you gave the organization a Pro Bowl-caliber player and a champion. When the world needed a way to connect more to the modern-day athlete, you opened the doors for many to accept their everyday life struggles with mental health.
"I can tell you what I’m going to miss the most, going out there and playing at the Linc on Sundays," Brooks said Wednesday.
"And number two, the locker room. It’s a unique set of guys and personalities. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, what your circumstances are, what your race is. At the end of the day, it’s whether you can play football or not."
On behalf of the Eagles and all fans of yourself, we’ll miss you too, Brandon Brooks. Thank you for just being yourself and caring as much as we care about you.
Conor Myles covers the Philadelphia Eagles for SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-hosts the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast on Bleav Podcast Network. Reach Conor at ConorMylesSI@gmail.com or Twitter: @ConorMylesSI
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.