Lighter and Hungrier, Eagles All-Pro Steps Into Public For First Time Since Retiring

Fletcher Cox officially retired on April 9 after 12 years in the NFL, but showed up at the Italian Market in South Philly to judge a hoagie contest and answer questions from fans
Fletcher Cox made his first public appearance after retiring on April 9 following  12 years with the Philadelphia Eagles by judging an Italian Hoagie contest at the Italian Market in Philadelphia and signing autographs on helmets and jerseys on Sunday, May 19, 2024
Fletcher Cox made his first public appearance after retiring on April 9 following 12 years with the Philadelphia Eagles by judging an Italian Hoagie contest at the Italian Market in Philadelphia and signing autographs on helmets and jerseys on Sunday, May 19, 2024 /
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PHILADELPHIA – The sun peeked out on Sunday morning, which was pretty big news in its own right after a cloudy week that ended with a rain-soaked Saturday.

Fletcher Cox peeked out of retirement, too, which was even bigger news since it was his first public appearance since officially retiring former the NFL on April 9.

The now-former Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle – and how strange does that sound after spending his entire career, all 12 years, with the Eagles? – was a judge for the Deer Park Italian Hoagie contest.

By Ed Kracz/SI Eagles Today
Fletcher Cox presents the first-place trophy to Lorenzo's representative for winning the best Italian hoagie in Philadelphia /

“Gotta love the city of Philadelphia, the support they give,” said Cox when he was introduced to an enthusiastic crowd. “I never thought I’d be judging an Italian hoagie contest, but I’m doing it. We have to try seven (hoagies). I didn’t eat all day, had an early dinner (Saturday), so I think I’m ready for it.”

Before being introduced, Cox signed the back of several young fans' jerseys and brought one boy onto the stage to sign his Eagles helmet.

Several restaurants entered their hoagies for sampling from Cox and three other judges, with the winner receiving a $5,000 donation from Deer Park for their favorite charity.

The contest was hosted by FOX 29 meteorologist Drew Anderson, who did a great job forecasting the sun and warmer temperatures. Joining Cox as guest judgers were Michael Bennett of 96.5 and KYW Newsradio, Visit Philly’s director of communications Binh Nguyen, and yours truly.

The contestants were Lorenzo’s, which won the best cheesesteak competition last year, Woodrow’s, Campo’s, Cosmi’s, Paesano’s, Carmen’s, and Martha’s.

Before the judging commenced, Cox took some questions from fans in the crowd.

Here’s a sampling of the Q&A:

Q: What’s it like being an Eagle?

A: For 12 years I was an Eagle, I wear it proud. Being in Philly is probably one of the best things in my life.

Q: Who was your favorite QB to tackle?

A: When I first got in it was Tony Romo, then it was Eli Manning, then he retired, and you all know my favorite quarterback to sack was Dak Prescott. Played against him in college, really good competitor, like him a lot, but definitely liked that feeling.”

Q: Fletch, you look like you’re 25, why did you retire?

A: I listened to my body…I gave the game all I could give. The biggest part is you give the game all you can give, and it gave me everything it could back, and that’s the part I respected about the game.”

Q:  Do you know Taylor Swift?

A: No.

Someone said, “Fletcher you’re the man.”

Cox corrected him: “I was the man, not anymore.”

Cox looked lighter than his playing weight of 318 pounds, and he confirmed he was now a couple of pounds under 300. He still keeps in shape, running about four miles daily, but enjoys time with his family.

He said he would still be at the Eagles’ training camp just about every day, in order to help young defensive linemen and former teammates, Jordan Davis and Jalen Carter, but he may also schedule a family vacation in order to keep his mind off what it’s like not to be playing football for the first time in forever.

As for Sunday's contest, the judges were required to give a rating from 1 to 4, with 4 being the highest, in four different categories. The judges didn’t have any idea which restaurants’ entry they were sampling.

Each sandwich was terrific, making the judging decisions excruciatingly difficult and the final tally very close.

Nguyen used decimal points in some categories, going 3.5 points or 2.5 in some, while Cox appeared to be the toughest grader.

When the scores were added up the winner was…Lorenzo’s. For a second straight year.

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Ed Kracz

ED KRACZ

Ed Kracz has been covering the Eagles full-time for over a decade and has written about Philadelphia sports since 1996. He wrote about the Phillies in the 2008 and 2009 World Series, the Flyers in their 2010 Stanely Cup playoff run to the finals, and was in Minnesota when the Eagles secured their first-ever Super Bowl win in 2017. Ed has received multiple writing awards as a sports journalist, including several top-five finishes in the Associated Press Sports Editors awards.