The Secret to Brandon Graham's Success

The Eagles defensive end is certain acupuncture has extended his career, as well as that of a certain quarterback
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Football is a young man’s game.

The turnover is constant in the NFL and we just finished the most active period during the calendar year where the Eagles drafted 10 former college stars and tacked on 13 more undrafted free agents. That’s 25.5 percent of the 90-man offseason roster in an industry where 30 is considered to be a dirty word.

There aren’t many guarantees to offer about Philadelphia’s 2020 season. If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic has only upped the uncertainty when it comes to all things in the NFL.

There is one, however. When the Eagles are allowed to finally take the practice field again the most energetic and effusive of the bunch will not be one of the hotshot rookies, it will be the 32-year-old Brandon Graham.

Graham’s energy level is legendary around the NovaCare Complex and his personality is the biggest in the locker room with the sort of magnetism that makes anyone in BG's orbit feel a little bit better, no matter the personal issue they might be dealing with on that particular day.

“He comes in here every single day with a smile on his face,” said coach Doug Pederson last November. “He's energetic. It's an infectious personality. It's what you need.

“... He’s just a great leader of this team and somebody that I go to from time to time to kind of keep that infectious smile going and that energy going with the team.”

After 143 career games and eight seasons in which Graham has missed exactly one game in the most physical of sports, Graham does have a secret to keep his body as fresh as possible - acupuncture.

"It (acupuncture) helped me not just get through practice, but to work hard through it," Graham told ORA founder, Kim Ross during an Instagram Live chat.

ORA is a modern acupuncture and wellness space in New York that has been coaching, encouraging, and inspiring individuals from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Graham has spoken to Eagles reporters in the past about his reliance on acupuncture to get through the NFL grind.

He feels the 2011 CBA - which shortened both the number and length of practices - along with the acupuncture are the reasons the prime of his career took off and extended.

"The new CBA helped out with all the practices being cut shorter, now with the schedule and how everything has worked out, you put acupuncture in there, it's helped me gain a couple more years,” said Graham. “If things had stayed the same I probably would've retired. It's coming up, but I don't feel that way right now."

On the field, Graham has turned into one of the Eagles’ all-time greats and his strip-sack of Tom Brady in Super Bowl LII while nursing an ankle injury that ultimately needed surgery, along with a hamstring issue, is arguably the most important play in franchise history.

His impact on that game was even bigger, though.

Nick Foles had already thought about retiring before returning to Philadelphia and was dealing with a troublesome elbow issue in training camp before the 2017 season.

The Eagles and Foles downplayed the issue publicly at the time but doubt was creeping into the quarterback's mind when Graham recommended acupuncture.

"Nick Foles was a guy who I was happy I introduced it (acupuncture) to him,” said Graham. “He'd had an elbow issue that he was dealing with for years, so I said, you should try my guy. 

"After that, he was in there twice a week and he was feeling good. And so I think that after seeing him and his progress, I started pushing more and more people to try it. And that was 2017."

John McMullen covers the Eagles for SI.com and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every day on SIRIUSXM’s Tony Bruno Show with Harry Mayes, Every Tuesday and Thursday with Eytan Shander on SBNation Radio, and every weekday on ESPN 97.3 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen