PHOENIX – A.J. Brown’s exit from Tennessee got kind of messy.
But after a 1,400-yard season and a trip to Super Bowl LVII, Brown has moved on. He’ll be one of the key offensive weapons when the Eagles (16-3) face the Chiefs (16-3) at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
“I think early on, as a man, I was speaking from a place of feelings,” said Brown, who blasted the Titans organization. “I had to learn that it’s a business. It comes down to some stuff I can’t control. I tried to do everything in my power. I think that was for me, the biggest thing for me was that I didn’t have to prove that. … I have no hard feelings for (anybody) in Tennessee, the fans, or none of that.”
The trade was made over the objections of coach Mike Vrabel and may have led to general manager Jon Robinson’s dismissal during the middle of the 2022 regular season.
“Tennessee gave me my first shot so there’s much respect,” Brown said. “I still have love for Tennessee.”
After the draft-day trade on April 28, Brown started working out with Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts at Florida Atlantic University. They developed a bond that carried over into the season.
Armed with a new four-year, $100 million contract, Brown set the franchise record for most receiving yards in a player’s debut with 155 yards and 10 catches in a 38-35 win over Detroit.
Things didn’t slow down as he caught 88 passes for 1,496 yards and 11 touchdowns to help power the Eagles’ passing attack along with Devonta Smith, who finished with 95 catches for 1,196 yards and seven touchdowns.
“They both have these different abilities,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said. “A.J. plays with strength, quickness and can really go and pluck the ball in traffic. Devonta is this route runner who has a great feel, great understanding in how to attack.”
Both players have helped out one another.
“There are definitely things that A.J. picked up from Devonta and then there are definitely things that Devonta has taken from A.J. in how to use his body, how to create separation by with his body like A.J. does,” Sirianni said.
Smith and Brown also bonded quickly.
“Just helping each other out with whatever we can, whether if it’s a route or blocking or things like that,” Smith said. “Helping each other. We know if one eats, we both eat. Just being able to feed off of each other’s energy.”
Brown was initially stung by the trade.
“I definitely matured as a man and as a football player,” Brown said. “Just matured in the ways of learning that this is a business and kind of removing my feelings from it.”
Vrabel contacted Brown before the big NFC championship game against the 49ers.
“It was nothing but love,” Brown said. “They are still showing me love. I wish the whole organization does really well. I’ve got teammates and friends on that team. I want them to succeed.”
Hurts was happy the deal was done.
“I think it’s cool and I always reflect on how cool it is to play with guys that you’ve known for a very long time,” Hurts said. “Talking about A.J. specifically, our back story and background, I tried to get him to come to Alabama. It didn’t work out the first time. It worked out this time and we’ve been enjoying it.”
Brown, who played at Ole Miss, knows that Hurts will come his way against the Chiefs.
“I’m visualizing myself trying to make plays, because I know there is a lot of work that goes into it,” Brown said. “I’m not thinking about the end. I’m thinking about the work that I’ve got to put in order for (a win) to happen.”
Hurts was able to quickly gain trust in Brown’s play-making ability.
“You just fall back on your work, fall back on your preparation,” Hurts said. I was telling A.J. (on Wednesday) that it was no different from us being at FAU getting our work in there in the offseason. You really want to rely on your preparation.
“We had really good times with each other. Got on the same page with the coaches with how we wanted this offense to look, how we wanted this team to look. We just tried to carry that into the season. I don’t think anything is going to change in terms of our plan, going into the game.”
There’s no looking back for Brown.
“I’m blessed,” Brown said. “I’m fortunate. I had a really good year. I’m playing in the biggest game. I’m just trying to finish the job. I’m not really thinking about what happened in the past. I had some good years in Tennessee, too. I’m still growing. I’m still learning as a player.”
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