Fletcher Cox and Derek Barnett are gone but the bond as Eagles won't be broken

During his farewell presser, Fletcher Cox mentioned some of his brothers, including a fellow former first-rounder who will always have a 'special place' in his heart.
Derek Barnett (L), Fletcher Cox (R) Philadelphia Eagles
Derek Barnett (L), Fletcher Cox (R) Philadelphia Eagles / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

A dozen years is a long time to do anything. Think about it. Some of you watching your kids graduate this year saw them navigate first grade while Fletcher Cox navigated his first NFL season with the Philadelphia Eagles.

We're a long way from 2012, aren't we? Andy Reid was the head coach. Fletch was part of a draft class that included Mychal Kendricks, Vinny Curry, and Nick Foles. All those guys would win a Super Bowl together as would a rookie we'd meet much later, Derek Barnett.

That team didn't win a lot of games. They won four to be exact, but they had some talented guys on the roster, like former Birds linebacker DeMeco Ryans.

It has to be hard to pack a dozen NFL seasons into a 23-minute farewell. Again 12 years is a long time to do anything, but Fletch certainly did his best. He mentioned B.G., Curry, Ryans, Jason Kelce, and Lane Johnson as former teammates who had always looked out for him. He mentioned Trent Cole, Cullen Jenkins, and Darryl Tapp as his mentors.

He also mentioned Barnett and a bond that will last for a lifetime.

Fletcher Cox reflects on the unforgettable life-changing bonded that forged an unbreakable friendship.

"The reason that Derek Barnett has a special place in my heart is because Derek and I... We share a similar story, and we often talk about that story."

Two guys sitting in a locker room next to each other. That's how it began. What transpired was the beginning of friendship that was birthed from personal tragedies, and those were the 'stories' that Fletch is mentioning.

"So, early in my career, my brother passed away, and early in Derek's career, his brother passed away. So, I was there for Derek. (I leaned) on his shoulder to tell him that I knew what he was going through, to let him know that, you know, no matter what anybody says, it's going to get better. And, just me giving him those few words and the encouragement of just being there for him as always. He trusted me and (knew) that I had already been through that. That's why we have so much respect for each other."

Sometimes, we talk about Fletch's resume so much that we forget his leadership qualities and how they evolved. Once, a guy that led by example, Fletch became more of a vocal leader as the seasons wore on, but perhaps his best quality was his big brother quality. He learned that from guys like Trent and DeMeco and passed it on to Barnett, Jordan Davis, and Jalen Carter.

Yep! That's what we'll think about when we remember Fletch.

Cox is one of three Eagles who has played for Andy Reid, Chip Kelly, Doug Pederson, and Nick Sirianni. Jason Kelce and Brandon Graham are the other two. B.G., now that Kelce and Fletch have both retired is the sole remaining member of that trio.

Barnett is in Houston with the Texans, and yes, DeMeco Ryans is his head coach. It's funny how things work out, but we know they are smiling. It's hard not to do so when thinking about Fletch. He certainly did the Number 91 jersey justice.

Watch the full press conference below.

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