A Tale of Two Eagles Cornerbacks: ‘I’m Not Always Serious’

Darius Slay

Getty Darius Slay runs in a touchdown for the Eagles in Detroit during the 2021 season.

For everyone about to cue up the “Odd Couple” theme music, don’t do it. James Bradberry and Darius Slay might not be as unalike as previously advertised. Nah, they probably are. That’s a good thing.

Slay was at the post-practice interview enthusiastically crooning Usher melodies into the microphone, while Bradberry was trying to tune out images from his two seasons with the New York Giants. Not due to performance, of course – it was … well, complicated. “I’m here now, that’s all that matters,” Bradberry said.

Meanwhile, the two starting cornerbacks for the Philadelphia Eagles have the potential to be the greatest duo in franchise history. Five Pro Bowls between them, plus the respect of their peers. One problem: they haven’t proven anything as they continue to build chemistry and learn each other’s quirks.

“I think he definitely loosens up the room, but I would say, away from the cameras and stuff, I’m pretty loose, too,” Bradberry told reporters. “I’m not always serious, of course. When I’m in meeting rooms, when it’s time to learn, when I’m on the field trying to get better and whatnot [yes], but I would say that I’m not always uptight. I’m not serious all the time.”

Meanwhile, Slay would rather sit at home than not have fun at work. Is he a jokester? Yes. Is he unprofessional? Never. It’s all about striking that balance.

“I don’t know if all of ya know but I’m always having fun,” Slay told reporters. “You gotta have fun out here, man – if you take it too serious the game will get old too fast, so that’s why I’ve been playing 10 years because I love it. I love coming to work. I love enjoying the guys, hanging around, if everybody took it too serious at work, I’d get bored and then just go home.”

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Bradberry, Slay Forging That Relationship

Bradberry and Slay may seem like polar opposites personality wise, but the way they approach the game is too similar to mention. They are buttoned-up professionals, locked in the film room, and not afraid to mentor their future replacements.

“I would say all the DBs hang out together,” Bradberry said. “Of course, we spend a lot of time out here at training camp, but we spend a lot of time in the meeting rooms, and we also spend a lot of time in the locker room – and also we’re in the caf [cafeteria] so the chemistry’s going pretty well.”

Slay wanted to single out one particular young cornerback he’s been chirping extra hard at. Zech McPherson – the second-year player, fourth-round draft pick- is the guy that the four-time Pro Bowler sees carrying the torch.

“He’s just grinding, working hard,” Slay said of McPhearson. “I’m trying to teach him everything I know because one of these days he’ll be taking my position. That’s the goal for me as a veteran guy. I want a younger guy to be the next me or even better.”

Dennard Wilson Praises ‘Intelligent Player’

Eagles defensive backs coach Dennard Wilson has made his opinion known on Slay: he loves him, cherishes the way the veteran cornerback inserts his will on the room. Great.

But Wilson holds Bradberry in equal regard – a player he tried to recruit to the New York Jets in 2020 – and he loves having both him and Slay under his tutelage in Philly.

“James is a very intelligent football player. He’s a fast processer,” Wilson said. “He’s another guy who wants to be the best he can be. My coaching style is like this, I want guys to be good on my watch. If you don’t want to be good, it’s hard to play for me. Because I’m going to push you. Those guys love to be pushed. They love doing the little things correct.”

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