Anxiety could have derailed Brandon Brooks’ career two years ago.
It was then, late in his first season with the Eagles that he would wake early in the morning, well before the sun, and begin to vomit. Medicine helped control the anxiety, after doctors finally figured out what it was, and now Brooks is one the best right guards in the National Football League.
He has started 44 straight games since signing a five-year free agent contract and on Tuesday he was named to his second straight Pro Bowl, which ties him with former Eagles Evan Mathis and Shawn Andrews for the most Pro Bowl selections by a guard in franchise history.
“It’s always good to see a guy you go against every day in training camp and OTAs and stuff make his second Pro Bowl,” defensive tackle Fletcher Cox told reporters following Wednesday’s walkthrough practice. “We always talk about it – go out and be great. There’s something about that rivalry we have every day in practice. I never saw a guy want to be great like Brandon.”
It seems like forever ago that there was concern the anxiety disorder would derail Brooks’ career. Now, he’s looking like one of the best free agent signings executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman has ever made.
“That was one of the darkest, toughest times going through,” Brooks told reporters. “To be able to bounce back from that, go through that, find myself, understand what was going on and to be able to face that and continue, then with the Pro Bowls and everything, yeah. I was able to let a lot of baggage go that was eating at me and causing me anxiety.”
Brooks will line up against his former teammates for the first time on Sunday, when the Houston Texans visit Lincoln Financial Field at 1 p.m.
“I’ll be excited, probably a little emotional out there,” said Brooks. “They’re really rolling right now.”
Indeed, the Texans are currently the second seed in the AFC playoffs and sit atop the AFC South with a 10-4 record.
There are no statistics for an offensive lineman, unlike the skill position groups or defenders. It’s easy to see what Brooks does during a game if one trains their eyes to not always follow the football and see what the guys up front are doing.
“Brooks is a great guy,” said defensive tackle Treyvon Hester. “He’s well deserving of that accolade and many more. He’s not easily beaten. I’ve never seen Brooks get beat at all. To come in and work with that guy the first couple weeks and still am, giving him good looks each week to get him ready for our opponent, I see what he does, I see that kind of work ethic he takes into the week and it’s a fight-first mentality. He never gives up and he’s all about the team.”
Like the Texans, Brooks is obviously rolling, too, and he’s happy to be doing it in Philadelphia. The guard has gone on record previously about not particularly enjoying playing for Houston head coach Bill O’Brien.
“I’ll be honest, it came down to them, too, when I was (deciding where to go in free agency),” said Brooks. “As far as the money, they weren’t very far apart. I’ll leave it at that. I wanted a fresh start. I wanted to go somewhere else. I came here and it was the best decision I could’ve made.”