One of the best stories out of the NFL this weekend had nothing to do with the draft or even the Eagles' impending rookie camp later in the week.
It had to do with Brandon Bair, one of the oldest rookies ever to suit up for an NFL game and he did so with the Eagles seven years ago.
Bair a 6-7 defensive lineman, arrived in Philadelphia in 2014, a part of the Oregon wave that flooded the city when Chip Kelly was the team’s head coach.
In his NFL debut, at the age of 29, he blocked a field goal against the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was a big play in a season that he went on to play all 16 games.
He made an even bigger play on Thursday when he rescued Steven Johnson, a 25-year-old man, from a semi-truck that had been hit by a train in St. Anthony, Idaho, near his hometown of South Fremont.
Bair was driving when he saw the accident occur and, he told the East Idaho News, that the truck exploded instantly.
“There was an explosion right away, and the train was pushing the truck down the tracks,” he told the East Idaho News. “I got on the phone with 911.”
Bair then began driving down the median to get in front of the train when it finally was able to stop. When it finally did, Bair heard a voice coming from inside the truck. Smoke was everywhere.
“It was a conscious decision that I’m going in because he needs help right now,” Bair told the East Idaho News. “I ran up to the window and saw dripping hot flames all over inside of the truck. I could see a guy in a seatbelt and was able to reach in and get it off of him.
“He was talking, and I told him we had to get out of here now … We walked away, and within seconds, the fire on the roof fell down and inside and the whole cab went up in flames. A few minutes later, there were a couple big booms and explosives.”
Johnson was listed in fair condition and the cause of the crash is under investigation.
“All I can say is this guy was supposed to live. I’m a man of faith, and I’ve learned to listen to your gut and the promptings you get,” Bair told the East Idaho News. “The Lord wanted him alive. Things could have gone different a million different directions, but things worked out on his behalf. That’s my conclusion. Whether it was me or someone else, he was supposed to live.”
Bair played in 21 games with the Eagles, recording 1.5 sacks and two blocked kicks. He was originally an undrafted free agent signed by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2011 and spent two years on the practice squad of the Oakland Raiders before joining the Eagles.
Part of his late start was due to a Mormon mission he took after college.
Now 36, he retired in 2016, but not before leaving his mark in Philadelphia, where he became known as Papa Bair and was the consummate teammate.
After his blocked field goal against the Jaguars in his pro debut, he said: “Anyone of us could have gotten a chance to do that. It happened to be the angle where I was the one who got in front of it. It was a matter of opportunity.
“Bennie Logan was right next to me and me and him have to blow the guy up together and if we didn’t hit the guy at the same time neither of us are getting into the backfield. We worked together great, and he did an awesome job. It could have hit his hand as easily it did mine, it just so happened to go into mine.”
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.