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Brandon Graham Relishing Latest Role as a Mentor

Now the Eagles' elder statesman Brandon Graham is intent on helping a new generation.

PHILADELPHIA - Life moves quickly and in the blink of an eye, Brandon Graham has evolved through many stages over his 11 seasons in Philadelphia.

From the mega-hype of a premium first-round pick to disappointment to reclamation project to underrated player to star and now mentor, when it's all finally said and done for Graham with the Eagles, he'll leave as an all-time franchise great destined for the team's Hall of Fame as the architect of the biggest play in modern franchise history, the game-sealing strip-sack of Tom Brady in Super Bowl LII.

With Jason Peters (presumably) out in Philadelphia, Graham, now 33 and once the 13th overall pick in the 2010 draft once unfairly maligned because he wasn't Earl Thomas or Jason Pierre-Paul, is now an institution, the elder-stateman of an Eagles team in a transition phase.

Amidst all the uncertainty, however, is the constant of Graham's energy, which will dwarf players who are often over 10 years younger.

There is a threat to the energy crown this time around but it comes from the coaching staff led by the perpetually upbeat Nick Sirianni and his coordinators, Shane Steichen and Jonathan Gannon.

"I'm excited," Graham beamed at the start of OTAs on Wednesday. "I think that [defensive coordinator Jonathan] Gannon comes with, just like Coach [Nick] Sirianni, comes with the high, high level of energy. I mean you know that's right up my alley."

Indeed, Graham was the sparkplug of the Eagles throughout the Doug Pederson era, the guy who's never had a bad day in his life and always greets you with a smile on his face and a pat on the back, albeit with the occasional trash-talking thrown in.

"I'm loving all of that [energy] because that's me every day, too," said Graham, who wants to finish his career on a high note and that involves both on-the-field success and paying it forward to the next generation.

"I'm very thankful," he said when taking stock of all that he's accomplished. "I'm always trying to make sure I keep that chip on my shoulder because, at the end of the day, you never think that 'man, yeah I'm in Year 12' and how people view me.

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"I'm the old guy and this and that but, with that chip on my shoulder, man, I just want to go out there and just keep proving that I can still play in this league. I want to walk out on my own terms, hopefully with another ring and that's the goal. I think we definitely got a shot to do that."

Another ring in 2021 seems like pie in the sky to the outside world but no one factored in the Eagles as a significant contender back in 2017, either.

For Philadelphia to surprise, some of the younger players will need to step up, and Graham is eager to play mentor to rookie edge players like Tarron Jackson and Patrick Johnson.

"Man, I gotta stay on my game because the boys out here looking good," said Graham. "I mean usually you see rookies coming in, like, 'okay I see what I got to learn I see what I got to work with these guys.'

"I mean it looks like they've been here a couple years already, in the way they move in when they look. ... I just can't wait to be able to pour into these guys and let them know what I've been through."

It's often counterintuitive in the NFL for aging players to want to help potential replacements but Graham is on a higher plane these days, one that demands he pay his own wisdom forward.

"As we build this relationship I just want to give them everything because I mean I'm at a point in my career now where I know who I am as a player," said Graham. "I know what I got to do to get right.

"And so, I'm just trying to help them know what they have to do and just know what it takes, each and every day, one day at a time."

John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

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 and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.