By Mark Eckel, Player Engagement Insider
For Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox the second time was even better than the first.
Cox, the Eagles’ stellar defensive lineman, was named to his second Pro Bowl after the 2016 season and was more excited than he was when he was selected to his first just a year ago.
“For me it’s my second one now,’’ Cox said of making the Pro Bowl team. “To get that second one, I was really excited about it, even more excited than I was for the first one to be honest with you. I was just really, really excited when they told me I made it. I got the call from (Executive vice president of football operations) Howie (Roseman) and I was pretty pumped.’’
Cox made his first Pro Bowl after the 2015 season, his fourth in the league, which led to a nice new contract during the offseason that paid him a guaranteed $64 million.
The money aside, the defensive lineman who made the switch back to a 4-3 tackle after spending three seasons as a 3-4 end, didn’t let the new contract affect his play. There was no complacency, or time to rest on his laurels for Cox.
Instead, he went out in 2016 and showed why the Eagles paid him the way they did. He was their best player.
Cox finished the season with 50 tackles, 10 for a loss, to go with six-and-a-half sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Just before the Eagles’ final game of the season, a win over the NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys, he got the word he was going back to the Pro Bowl.
“Sure it means a lot,’’ Cox said. “For those guys to vote me in, we all compete against each other, and for them to vote for me means a lot to me. It all comes down to really the group picking the players. We vote as a group, as a team, so the players see who has been dominating, who you pay extra attention to when you play them, so it’s really an honor.’’
Cox’s first Pro Bowl was spent in Hawaii and the teams were split up and picked by former NFL stars Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders. This year the game has gone back to the NFC vs. AFC and has been relocated to Orlando, Fla.
“Last year was Hawaii and it was awesome going to Hawaii,’’ Cox said. “Everything will still be good. It’s just nice to get together with the other guys (from other teams). It will be a good time.
“It’s always good to see the guys you know, who you maybe don’t get to see too often during the season and you get to hang out a little, have some fun.’’
While Cox just finished his fifth year with the Eagles after being the team’s first-round pick out of Mississippi State in the 2012 draft, he just turned 26 years old last December.
“A lot of guys in the locker room don’t believe my age, they have to go ask the coaches,’’ Cox said. “Because of how many years I’ve been in the league, they’re surprised. They say ‘I just got out of college and I’m 24.’ So, I guess I surprise a lot of people.’’
There’s a good chance Cox’s second Pro Bowl won’t be his last. But he’s just happy he’s gotten to the two so far.
“Guys have told me just because you make one, it’s hard to make it again,’’ he said. “Some guys end up dropping off, or something. Hopefully, I can keep competing and make some more moving forward.
“Hopefully, I’ll play in a lot of these. But hopefully one day I’ll get to play in a Super Bowl and I won’t be able to go.’’