Defensive end Brandon Graham instantly became a Philadelphia legend yesterday when he managed to strip-sack Tom Brady. The play came during a late fourth-quarter drive and prevented the Patriots’ from not only mounting a comeback attempt but also giving Nick Foles and the Eagles offense great field position to pad their lead. After the game, Graham said the iconic play — and the Super Bowl victory that came with it — held extra significance because they are also birthday gifts for his daughter Emerson, who turns two years old on Sunday.
Graham has been one of the best defensive players for the Eagles all season but was surprisingly ineffective during the Eagles’ first two playoff games, recording no sacks and just two tackles in playoff wins against the Falcons and Vikings. Still, Graham stepped up when it mattered most, delivering the game’s first sack and fumble just as Brady was trying to stage another one of his legendary game-winning drives. Instead, Graham delivered Philadelphia its first-ever Super Bowl and got to celebrate the win simultaneously with his daughter’s birthday.
After the game, Graham could be seen on the field holding Emerson and talking to his wife Carlyne, as all three celebrated Graham and the Eagles’ Super Bowl win. Graham even brought the two on stage for part of the trophy ceremony and he had Emerson on his lap during his post-game interview, wanting to make sure his daughter got the full winning experience during her last first few hours as a two-year-old.
Despite not being able to form full sentences, Emerson managed to steal the spotlight during her father’s press conference. Clad in a glittery green jersey, she sang an adorable rendition of “Fly Eagles Fly” while Graham attempted to answer questions. And while Emerson may be too young to remember her dad making the deciding play to secure Philadelphia’s first Super Bowl on her second birthday, it’s an experience that Graham and the rest of us won’t easily forget.