PHOENIX — When the Tennessee Titans traded their No. 1 wide receiver, A.J. Brown, to the Philadelphia Eagles during the 2022 NFL Draft, he cried.
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He was drafted by the Titans in the second round of the 2019 draft and immediately became their top wideout. They advanced to the AFC championship game his rookie season, and got back to the playoffs the next two years. He envisioned a long career with Tennessee.
So when he learned he was being dealt to Philadelphia for the No. 18 overall pick (which Tennessee used to take receiver Treylon Burks) and a third-round pick, Brown broke down.
But soon thereafter, he received a call from his soon-to-be quarterback Jalen Hurts, whom Brown was already close friends with.
“As soon as he called me, we got to laughing and the tears went away,” Brown told the media last week. “I was ready for a new start.”
Brown immediately became Hurts’ and the Eagles’ top wideout, setting a franchise single-season record with 1,496 receiving yards in the regular season, which ranked fourth in the NFL. He also collected a career-high 88 receptions, 11 of which were touchdowns (matching his career high), and earned his second Pro Bowl berth.
More important than any of that, however, is the fact that he’ll appear in his first Super Bowl on Sunday.
“This is why we play the game,” Brown told the media last week. “I’m not playing for any individual awards. I’m playing the game to be the best and hold the trophy up at the end. Right now, we’re right here. We’re at the door. We just have to go take it.”
On Monday, Brown was asked about his journey to the podium seat he was in during Super Bowl Opening Night.
“I had plans and God had other plans,” Brown told Sports Spectrum. “I try not to lean on my own understanding. I read the Bible a lot because that’s how I fight my problems. I’m not trying to stand up here and be a perfect guy because I’m not; nobody is. But I just lean heavily on my faith and try to let Him direct my paths.”
Sports Spectrum then asked him if there was a particular Bible verse he has leaned on.
“Romans 8:18,” he said. “‘The pain you have been feeling cannot compare to the joy that is coming.'”
Throughout his time in the NFL, Brown has often put his faith on display, even while in uniform. He sports a big cross drawn in eye black under each eye for most games, and he’s been known to pray on the field.
No better feeling when I put my armor of God on. Confidence come from the man the man above! I fear nothing 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/eYyOrecH3k
— AJ Brown (@1kalwaysopen_) September 20, 2022
He’ll likely do the same Sunday when he takes the field at State Farm Stadium for Super Bowl LVII against the Kansas City Chiefs. Brown will then be a focal point during the game for the Chiefs defense to stop. The Eagles boasted the No. 3-ranked regular-season offense for yards (389.1) and points (28.1), and they were ninth in passing yards (241.5). Those are marked improvements over 2021, when they finished 14th in total yards (359.9), 25th in passing yards (200.2) and 12th in scoring (26.1)
Brown is certainly a big reason for the offensive improvement, and a large factor in Hurts’ career year (3,701 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, six interceptions). That’s what Philadelphia was hoping for when it made the blockbuster trade, and sent Brown on a path he wasn’t planning for, but is certainly grateful for.
“I’m blessed just to be playing in the Super Bowl,” he said Monday night.
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