The Boyertown Area Times
Cox not wrong to imply ‘17 Eagles remain franchise standard
The pressure was coming at him from multiple directions, and for a rare point in his Eagles career, Fletcher Cox was caught in a trap.
One of just five Eagles regulars to have been on both the 2017 and 2022 NFC championship teams, the legendary lineman was nicely fighting off natural questions about the comparisons and similarities, before the blind-side hit came.
So, Cox was asked, who would win?
“Who do I think would win?” he said. “Oh, man.” Then after a second or two of thought, he added, “probably the 2017 team.” Huh? Hmmm. Wow. And where was Joe Namath to guarantee a Super Bowl win when one was in order?
The man is entitled to his opinion, and Cox deserves praise for speaking from his experience, not a script. And anyone trapped behind a microphone and facing half-an-auditorium full of nosy questioners can be backed into a misfired answer. Yet not only did Cox stop and give that question some thought before quietly delivering his response, he was provided one final chance at the end of the interview to do the reverse-walk routine. Instead, he stood right up, half-smiled and walked away to let it hang there.
What does it mean? Two things: It means that for as long as there have been football games cataloged by Roman numerals, there has been something said during the ramp-up that intrigues. It also means that the 2017 Eagles did what the 2022 Eagles are only planning to do, which is the central purpose for installing scoreboards in coliseums.
Had Cox gone there — had he said, “Look, that team won it all, so that’s the Eagles standard until someone else proves otherwise” — who would have argued?
The 2011 Phillies might feel they were the more talented group, but the 2008 Phillies had been showered with half a ton of confetti that argued otherwise. As Fred Shero once said, “Win today and walk together forever.” The 2017 Eagles won and that gave Fletcher Cox not only the right to begin that walk-athon but, should he ever be so moved, to break into a Mummers strut.
Both the 2017 and 2022 Eagles were great and are never going to play one another, so there is nothing to be gained from the go-position-by-position interpretive dance in an effort to determine who was the better left tackle, Jordan Mailata or Halapoulivaati Vaitai. But it was a little revealing that Cox was not willing to declare his current team as the best in an 11thyear career destined to land
him in the Eagles Hall of Fame, even for just the way it would have resonated about the NewsControl Compound. And didn’t Brandon Graham declare, just a day earlier, that the current Eagles have substantially more talent than the only team in franchise history to win a Super Bowl?
“They will have different talent in different ways,” Cox said. “Obviously, we had elite receivers back then. We have elite receivers now. We had a really good tight end back then. We have a really good tight end now. It’s really hard to compare those two teams. There were so many different personalities. That’s the biggest thing that this team has. The personalities are way different from the 2017 team to this team.
“They’re really good teams. The biggest thing about it is that we have really good players and really good dudes, really good
teammates. I think that’s really the most important part of what has gotten us to this point. Because nobody in that locker room thinks they’re better than the next person. And when you get there, it’s hard to beat.”
Cox also knows the 2017 Eagles were so hard to beat that Tom Brady couldn’t do it with a Lombardi prize available. Maybe the Eagles’ defensive tackle just has a different attachment to a group he played with at age 27 than he does five years and a quarter-of-a-step slower than he has been at 32. Maybe it’s a generational thing.
“This is a newer generation, right?” Cox said. “You’ve got younger guys. Back then, we had some older guys that had been around the league for a while. Now there’s some guys who are in their second or third year in the league that are doing this, obviously. So it’s just different. It’s 2023, so the personality is
The 2017 team felt disrespected, with many showing up in German shepherd masks as a show of underdog pride. And those Eagles were five-anda-half-point dogs in the Super Bowl. This year, the Eagles are favored by 2.5 points and should Jason Kelce be handed a microphone at a parade he would be wrong to call out the world for not believing.
Cox believes, too, which is why he also spent plenty of time Friday praising Jalen Hurts and the offense and his teammates and his coaches. That will be lost in the breeze of typical Super Bowl hype. He didn’t say the Eagles were going to lose. He just implied that they haven’t won yet.
No matter how much pressure he was under, he wasn’t wrong.