'Big Play' Slay key in secondary, leads Eagles to 6-0 start

Bradley Cooper has yet to win an Oscar. The Philadelphia Eagles fan even fell short after he was nominated for a movie in which he played, well, a Philadelphia Eagles fan.

Whatever. Plenty of actors have Oscars and Cooper should have productive years ahead to win the golden statuette.

Cooper, the Jenkintown, Pennsylvania native, might want to move his from his box seat — where he watched a game this season wearing an Allen Iverson T-shirt — down to a sideline seat to catch the action.

Cooper could snag a prize more rare than an Oscar — but as just in demand for A-listers.

A football.

Not any football, of course — the ball that is caught for an interception by Eagles cornerback Darius Slay. He gave the ball from one of his picks earlier this season to 76ers star James Harden. In Sunday’s win against Dallas — which moved the Eagles to 6-0 — Slay handed the ball to rapper Meek Mill.

Slay wants to give away a few more, especially as the wins keep piling up for the only undefeated team in the NFL.

"We are one of a kind," Slay said. "We are one-percenters. To show love to guys that show love to us, come support us, why not?"

Harden met Slay after the win over Minnesota and got the football signed from "Big Play!!!" himself. Slay wears silver chains with two medallions the size of personal pizzas emblazoned with his "Big Play" nickname. He’s led the way in big plays for a secondary that has made plenty of them as the unit has become perhaps the best in the league. Slay has three interceptions, C.J. Gardner-Johnson had two off Cooper Rush last Sunday and the Eagles have nine overall headed into their bye week.

"I do love what the Eagles are doing," Harden said.

He’s not the only one. The Eagles are spreading the love throughout the secondary. Only Buffalo (11) has more picks. The Eagles are allowing 188 yards passing per game, good enough for sixth in the league. James Bradberry, a Pro Bowler in 2020 and released in May by the New York Giants, broke up four passes against Dallas and leads the league with nine deflections. Gardner-Johnson sealed the win with his second interception, even while playing with an injured left hand because, Slay said, "that’s what dogs do."

Slay then growled like a dog to laughter in the locker room.

Slay was a second-round pick by Detroit in 2013 and was an All-Pro in 2017 before the Lions traded him to the Eagles in 2020. He earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors after he had two interceptions and shut down Vikings star receiver Justin Jefferson earlier this season.

Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said Slay has helped Bradberry and Gardner-Johnson get acclimated in their first seasons with the team.

"He shows examples of why, and good and bad of what is important to him," Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said. "The players then understand why that’s important to him and to a team, and they take it to heart. So that’s one thing where when he’s talking about Slay with that, like Slay understands the value of teammates knowing that you care about them, not just on the field but day-to-day."

Slay may be one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, but he’s not a fan of D — as in, his name, Darius.

He only wants to be addressed as "Big Play" or, well, Slay and there’s a humorous highlight reel of him shooting down reporters who address him as Darius.

"I hate Darius," he says in one clip.

"If I hear the D-name, I’ve got a problem," he notes in another.

The Eagles return Oct. 30 at home against Pittsburgh.

Jalen Hurts has received most of the (rightful) praise for the Eagles’ undefeated start and Sirianni’s successful fourth-down gambles have helped his popularity soar. Most everything has gone right for the Eagles, and the secondary sure stands out — and Sirianni credits Slay.

"I don’t talk about this enough because I think Slay is one of the best team leaders I’ve ever been around," Sirianni said. "It may not always be a vocal thing. It’s just by his actions. If one of his teammates needs extra work on the side as far as getting extra reps or getting the technique down at the corner play, Slay is there working with them."