Hurts ready for Super Bowl

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Brandon Graham laughed as he recalled all the doubters who rushed him during the offseason and blurted out the same question — the main concern, really — about the state of the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback.

“What’s Jalen going to do?” said Graham, the strip-sacking defensive end.

Yes, it’s hard to remember now, but Jalen Hurts was a bit of a mystery headed into his second full season as the starting QB. His solid 2021 season was marred by a poor playoff performance against Tampa Bay (that included two crushing interception) and reports of a rough go at organized team activities.

So the question raised around Philly really was, what’s Jalen going to do?

“I don’t know how many times I got that from fans, even some media people,” Graham said. “‘I don’t know, the X-factor factor is Jalen. We don’t know what Jalen is going to do.'”

How about take the Eagles to the brink of their second Super Bowl championship?

Hurts launched the Eagles from preseason 30-1 odds to win the Super Bowl to staking them as 1 1/2-point favorites against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl.

As the seconds ticked down in the NFC championship victory over San Francisco, Graham and Fletcher Cox embraced Hurts on the sideline. Just a couple of defensive stalwarts who wanted to thank the quarterback that made it all happen.

“I was just telling him, I appreciate him because of all the things that he had to overcome this year,” Graham said. “You didn’t see him get rattled not one time. Man, I’m going to fight for a guy like that every time.”

The only true setback this season was a sprained right shoulder that cost Hurts two games. He still is playing through it; Hurts was a modest 15-of-25 passing for 121 yards and ran for 39 yards and a touchdown against the 49ers. The 24-year-old Hurts has downplayed the severity of the injury from the beginning. He simply said Thursday, “I’m getting there.”

The AFC champion Chiefs are prepared for Hurts at full speed.

“This is the Jalen Hurts Show at the end of the day,” defensive end Frank Clark said. “If you can stop what he’s doing, you can possibly slow them down. But he’s playing some great football.”

Hurts is appreciative of the magnitude of the moment. Mahomes and Hurts are both Texas natives. They are both NFL MVP finalists. And they will be the first Black QBs to face off in a Super Bowl.

Hurts said he tried to live up to the trail blazed in Philadelphia by fellow Black quarterbacks such as Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick and Randall Cunningham. While they are the most notable names, Rodney Peete and Vince Young were also Black starting QBs in Philly.

Hurts was honored to match up with Mahomes.

“I think it’s history. I think it’s something that’s worthy of being noted,” Hurts said.


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