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August 20, 2020

John McMullen: Former Eagle Nigel Bradham's only sin was telling the truth

Opinion Eagles

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290922_Eagles_Lions_Nigel_Bradham_Kate_Frese.jpg Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham.

You're with us or you're against us.

That's the motto of the often-provincial Philadelphia sports world and Nigel Bradham stepped outside that line by telling the truth earlier this week.

The ex-Eagles linebacker signed in New Orleans this offseason after four successful years with the Eagles, which included three consecutive postseason berths and a Super Bowl LII championship. He arrived in 2016, though, the same year as Doug Pederson and Jim Schwartz in the aftermath of the Chip Kelly implosion.

"It’s definitely a different type of environment, a different culture because the last two organizations I went to wasn’t really a winning organization," Bradham said this week when asked why he chose to sign with the Saints.

A quick temperature check on Buffalo and everyone was OK but Philly?

The ever so measured immediately took Bradham’s comments as disrespect to the Eagles and pointed toward the veteran’s release coupled with his Twitter Avatar picturing him holding the Lombardi Trophy as all the evidence they needed.

A jilted ex was the narrative, the only possible explanation unless you're not a fan of revisionist history or ignoring the hole in the donut when it comes to modern Eagles football.

Jeffrey Lurie always got criticized for saying "we're kind of the gold standard," during the Andy Reid era. While that is a very haughty and self-aggrandizing thing to say for an organization that hadn’t won a Super Bowl at the time, the truth is that the Eagles were respected around the league and in the conversation for the silver standard behind the New England Patriots.

When Reid's shelf life in Philadelphia expired, however, Lurie, shifted gears and tried to stay ahead of the curve by hiring Kelly, the flavor of the month from the college ranks with the new ideas that were going to reinvent professional football.

Tempo was Kelly's snake-oil and he was a one-trick pony, incapable of adjusting to any adjustments made toward him.

The worst part came when the die was cast and Kelly made his last move by attempting to seize personnel control from Howie Roseman in 2015. Lurie infamously settled the coup by exiling his most trusted football advisor and handing Kelly the keys to his empire.

It was the biggest mistake Lurie has made in what has been a successful quarter-century run atop the Eagles.

At the time, the thinking behind the decision seemed specious, described as a necessary step to see what the owner really had in Kelly, a grifter propped up by a constituency that doesn't know what it doesn't know, namely that while innovation is by definition new, not everything new is innovative.

By 2016 Kelly was gone and Roseman was back, a 180 Lurie didn't even officially announce in an attempt to slowly press rewind hoping no one would notice.

Plenty did, however, and they also remember this organization wanted Adam Gase and Ben McAdoo before "settling" on Doug Pederson, a choice former league executive Mike Lombardi described as a person who "might be less qualified to coach a team than anyone I’ve ever seen."

Are you starting to get the point?

When Bradham arrived in 2016 it wasn't an extension of the Reid Eagles yet, it was an unproven entity coming off the Kelly S@#$ show and down to No. 3 and potentially four if you believe the Tom Coughlin hype on its wish list.

Pederson and everyone else brought in, including Bradham, turned this back into a top-five organization which brings us full circle.

Bradham actually loved his time in Philadelphia, revered Pederson and Schwartz, and if it wasn't for self-inflicted wounds like concealed firearms at airports, roughing up cabana boys, or failing to call out of work when he's not feeling well Bradham would likely still be leading the Eagles' unproven LB corps right now, albeit with a reworked deal.

“We built that atmosphere of winning with coach Pederson and I was the first free agency class he had,” Bradham explained to NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Clark. “I love Philadelphia always & forever.”

The Saints, on the other hand, are already a ready-made contender the day Bradham arrived.

"When you come to a place where it’s known for winning and known for being in the postseason, you see the different type of culture that they have and the different type of expectations that they have naturally and what they expect out of you as a player," Bradham said of his new team.

Those who practice revisionism often want to avoid the truth but they can’t change it.


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John McMullen is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media and also contributes Eagles and NFL coverage for PhillyVoice and SI.com. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com.

Follow John on Twitter: @JFMcMullen

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