PHILADELPHIA — The locker space doors opened and music filled the space following the Philadelphia Eagles’ Week 12 win over the Green Bay Packers. Players bustled about. Some laughing. Some dancing. Some screaming out blasphemy to nobody in specific (Darius Slay, still mad he could not draw in an Aaron Rodgers interception). All quickly moving from here to there, forming a ball of kinetic energy suitable for an 11-1 group.
But 2 figures, quarterback Jalen Hurts and receiver A.J. Brown, stood stationary and stone-faced in the center of the space, like stars in a motion picture with the world blurring in the background. Both were shirtless and still in their video game trousers — the regimen of getting altered postponed for this minute. Hurts did most, perhaps all, of the talking.
Then Hurts extended an arm, they slapped hands, drew in for the one-arm hug, and went off to rejoin the pack.
“He was saying he was proud of me,” Brown stated.
A stomach health problem had actually avoided Brown from consuming for much of the preceding week. He had actually dropped 7 pounds and was tossing up a lot he popped a capillary in his best eye. He had a pricey fumble deep in Green Bay area midway through the 2nd quarter however reacted with a six-yard goal catch in the 3rd. Hurts, it ends up, was raising him up after a tiring stretch.
“I tell him all the time I’m proud of him, too,” Brown stated.
Hurts and Brown are friends going back to when Hurts attempted to hire Brown to come to Alabama. Their relationship, enhanced through the years even as they took a trip various courses through college and their early professional professions. In April, they lastly ended up being colleagues when the Eagles gotten Brown from the Tennessee Titans for the 18th and 101st total choices — a relocation Hurts promoted and assisted get to the goal.
The on-field outcomes promote themselves: Hurts is delighting in an MVP-caliber project while Brown is on speed for the very best season of his profession with over 1,300 backyards and 13 goals.
Some colleagues jokingly compare Hurts and Brown to “an old married couple,” according to quarterback Gardner Minshew, since while it’s apparent they’re close, they quarrel. Most compare them to siblings. Brown obstacles and speak to Hurts in methods no other gamer can or will, numerous colleagues stated. Hurts is similarly requiring.
“In the end, the honesty that we can have towards one another, that only allows us to excel. You want people around you that’s going to be honest with you and tell you the truth,” Hurts stated. “I think we have a bond that’s strong enough to do that. That’s what we try to do — even when it hurts.”
Their characters stand in contrast. Hurts is scheduled. Brown, more gregarious, gets disappointed that Hurts is constantly all company — constantly boning up at that enormous chip on his shoulder.
But they’re extremely comparable at their cores and have a method of stabilizing each other out. And most significantly, they function as a support group for one another — something that has actually been essential this season and over their football professions.
“For me it’s a natural bond, how they came about to where they are,” stated Willie Gillespie, Brown’s pass receivers coach at Starkville (Mississippi) High School who has actually seen their relationship up close. “They don’t take their position for granted, they both work hard, and everything they’ve got they’ve earned it.
“Certainly I believe dreams came to life when they got a possibility to play together. Like I informed A.J., ‘That’s called magnificent intervention there, friend.'”
Already committed to Alabama in the fall of 2015, Hurts said his first interaction with Brown came on social media. The two kept in contact throughout their senior years as Hurts, who starred at Channelview (Texas) High School, sought players to join him in Tuscaloosa. Hurts enrolled early at Alabama and was on campus when recruiting trips started, and served as Brown’s campus host.
“We simply struck it off,” Brown said. “I simply sort of gravitated towards him since he’s a great individual, most significantly. I believe individuals can acknowledge great individuals when they see them. You might feel that ambiance from him, and I believe it simply began with that see.”
Hurts’ efforts to convince Brown to play for the Tide were unsuccessful, but they had instant rapport and stayed in touch. Brown invited Hurts to work out with him in Starkville — an hour’s ride from Tuscaloosa — that summer.
Hurts obliged. But he wasn’t going to let Brown slide that easily for choosing Ole Miss over Alabama.
“They’d concern your house and go on YouTube and watch Alabama play. Of course Jalen would rub it in his face which example,” Gillespie said with a laugh. “It was all in enjoyable, however. Their relationship sort of developed from that and sort of become an inseparable bond.”
The summer workouts became a tradition, to the delight of the Starkville kids who got to work out with two budding collegiate stars.
“It got competitive, male. It resembled 2 siblings playing catch,” Gillespie said.
‘Man, run! Come on!’
‘Well you didn’t throw the ball early enough! You didn’t throw it far enough! Throw it on time!’
‘Well, you just catch it!’
That’s how many of their Eagles teammates and coaches describe it, appearing in both big ways and small in their daily interactions. Hurts will walk over to the section of the locker room where the wide receivers are situated, go into Brown’s locker stall without saying a word, take a pair of his socks for his own, and walk away.
“A.J. will take a look at us and resemble, ‘What he started on?’ I’m like, ‘That’s your buddy. He can do that. He’s got the power to do that.’ And [Brown] will simply discuss and tinker him and take his socks back,” receiver Quez Watkins said.
“They sit right there,” said coach Nick Sirianni, pointing to two adjoining seats in the front row of the NovaCare Complex auditorium. “They talk sometimes — and they argue sometimes.”
“[It will be] A.J. speaking about how he wishes to run a path like this and Jalen states, ‘I’m tossing you the ball, run the path the method I desire you to run it,'” tight end Dallas Goedert added. “Little things like that.”
“Nothing’s individual. There are no individual attacks. You’re able to talk with each other extremely candidly in such a way that other individuals might be terrified to do,” receiver/returner Britain Covey said.
There’s debate over who is the big brother. Some side with the more steady-handed Hurts, who is sometimes charged with reining in the more excitable Brown. But the majority of those polled in the locker room and out said Brown is the big brother — something even Hurts conceded after contemplating the question for a moment, allowing that Brown has experienced more “grown male things” in his life.
“I wish to state so. But he certainly attempts to be the huge sibling often,” Brown said. “I pertained to the league a little earlier. I can simply state at the minute I’ve achieved more. I believe he simply has regard for that: regard for my video game, regard for what I’ve done currently, therefore I believe that’s where the huge sibling and little sibling can be found in.”
“Where I get disturbed is I’ll resemble, ‘Have enjoyable often'” he added. “He’s like, ‘I have a good time winning.’ That’s how he is. But he’s been doing much better.”
Brown’s affection for Hurts, however, runs deep. He seen as his pal was benched in the championship game versus Georgia for Tua Tagovailoa throughout the 2017 season, lost the beginning task in 2018, and after that led Alabama to an SEC Championship win over that very same Georgia group later on that season when Tagovailoa went down with an injury.
“For him to get benched and come back in and play well in that championship game, I told him, me personally, I couldn’t have went through that. I learned something from him in that situation,” Brown stated.
“We talked that night after everything had happened. He was so calm. We just talked, and he knew what he had to do — he had to go to work. It took a tremendous amount of character to sit through that. But I think that’s just who he is, that’s how he was raised.”
Hurts reacted in kind, consisting of on draft night in 2019. Brown had hopes of entering the preliminary however slipped to the 2nd prior to being chosen 51st total by the Titans. Hurts was by his side at the draft celebration.
“He’s a person that’s been there through everything,” Hurts stated. “He never changed throughout any type of circumstance or situation. I appreciate him for that and I appreciate the bond we have and the aspirations and ambitions we have. We get to chase those things together.”
A.J. Brown loses his protector and quickly enters completion zone for a 40-yard goal catch.
Hurts called his shot.
He had actually taken a trip to Mississippi last April to go to the birthday celebration for his goddaughter, Jersee, Brown’s 2-year-old.
Like most times when they get together, the duo discovered a regional field to exercise on.
“In the middle of the throwing session, Jalen said he’s going to ask for [the Eagles] to trade for me,” Brown stated. “We were laughing and joking. We had no idea this was going to happen.”
Turns out, Hurts had actually been “putting a bug in [management’s] ear,” per Brown, to bring him on board.
Brown had actually gone beyond 1,000 backyards in each of his very first 2 seasons with the Titans, consisting of a 70-catch, 1,075-yard project in 2020 when he took a career-best 11 TDs. In 2021, he had 63 catches for 869 backyards and 5 goals in 13 video games. But with Brown reaching a deadlock with Tennessee as he looked for a brand-new offer, Eagles basic supervisor Howie Roseman worked behind the scenes to make the trade take place.
Parameters of an offer had actually been consented to prior to the opening night of the draft, however it was contingent on Brown and the Eagles working out an agreement extension. It required to get done by the time Philadelphia was on the clock with the 18th choice. Approaching select 15, the offer was up in the air. Roseman left the draft space time and once again, dipping into meeting room with a phone plastered to his ear attempting to get the offer done. Almost no one in the structure understood what was taking place, with one exception being Hurts.
“I had given him a heads up before the draft, one of a few people, in case I needed him to recruit A.J., in case it got close and we needed to get a deal done,” Roseman informed WIP radio in Philadelphia that week. “And that was really it.”
And so another chance to hire Brown emerged. Brown, however, had actually gone dark on Hurts as the draft got underway. The choice and what it indicated to his profession was too huge to permit feelings to get included, he stated.
The 2 sides settled on a four-year, $100 million extension with minutes to spare prior to the Eagles were on the clock, enabling Roseman to spring the news as he reentered the draft space.
The occurring FaceTime call in between Hurts and Brown used a look into just how much it indicated to them to be signing up with forces.
“That was just two friends in disbelief that it really happened,” Brown stated.
When Hurts was inquired about the advantages of having Brown with him in Philadelphia just recently, he joked, “Less FaceTime calls.”
But it exceeds that.
On the very first day of training school, Brown appeared using a black hat that check out “HURTS SZN” in white lettering. It was a message, Brown stated at the time, that “I’m going to be right beside him every step of the way.”
And that’s shown out. When a report emerged detailing Hurts’ has a hard time throughout a part of the offseason training program, Brown required to social networks to press back in defense of Hurts, with other colleagues leaping in.
“He can kind of move how he wants to move because he knows someone has got his back,” Brown stated.
Their relationship, and typical vision for the group, has actually gone a long method in sealing the group culture that Sirianni has actually been working to develop.
“I think we just want to be great. This is somebody that I call a friend,” Brown stated. “He knows what I want to accomplish and I know what he wants to accomplish. When you’re playing for somebody that you love, who you call family, it’s a different meaning behind it.”