When they embraced and Shawn Andrews felt the last bit of oxygen being squeezed from his body, he figured if he was playing football and doing quite well, so should the guy who had him in a bear hug - his older brother, Stacy.
"He would always squeeze me the hardest," the Eagles' right guard said.
There will be plenty more opportunities for such displays of brotherly love now that Stacy Andrews is a teammate of Shawn's for the first time since they played AAU basketball together when they were in high school.
If Eagles coach Andy Reid keeps them at their current positions, they will present about 675 pounds of beef to opposing defensive linemen.
"If we both manage to play on the right side, then we could probably build the Great Wall of Philadelphia," Shawn Andrews said.
The Eagles made the signing of Stacy Andrews official yesterday when they introduced the 6-foot-7, 342-pound right tackle, formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals. Terms of the six-year contract were not disclosed but it's believed to be worth about $7 million a year.
Reid, who seems to be in the midst of re-vamping his offensive line, said Stacy Andrews can play guard or tackle on either side. But most of his experience is at right tackle.
Right tackle has belonged to Jon Runyan every game since 2000, but the 35-year-old Runyan is a free agent whose future is uncertain as he recovers from microfracture surgery on his right knee.
At a news conference yesterday, Reid steadfastly declined to discuss Runyan, the state of his offensive line, free agency, or any other issue involving the team. It's Stacy's day, he said, and that was that.
Shawn Andrews seems to be on the mend. Physical and emotional issues wiped out most of his 2008 season. He missed the last 14 games with a problem back that required surgery after having sat out almost all of training camp before he announced he was suffering from depression.
That's no small matter, because he's a two-time Pro Bowl choice with the ability, according to Reid, to play left tackle, if needed. Left tackle is up in the air because Tra Thomas, who played the position for 11 seasons, is a free agent.
"Oh yeah, definitely," Shawn Andrews said when asked if he'll be ready for next season. "I'm really excited. [Eagles trainer] Rick Burkholder and his staff did a great job with my rehab. I'm doing everything I can possibly do to get back and hit the ground running."
Stacy Andrews, 27, had surgery on his right knee Jan. 7 after he tore his ACL in the next-to-last game of the season. He said he is off crutches, lifting weights, and far ahead of schedule. But he's still uncertain if he will be ready for training camp.
"I'm really not sure," he said. "I'm just looking forward to getting in and rehabbing and getting better. I'm walking fine and feeling great."
Reid, who said Stacy Andrews played at a Pro Bowl caliber while with Cincinnati, seemed confident Andrews' knee will be fine. Andrews spent much of Friday going through medical evaluations before he signed.
"We feel very comfortable about his leg," Reid said. "He has been poked and pronged for the last two days. He is ready to get this thing going here with the Eagles."
Reid denied that the Eagles wanted Stacy Andrews so he could help stabilize his brother, but Stacy Andrews suggested he could be of help.
"Most definitely," he said. "Me being on this team will add a boost to his spirit, and we'll get it going here."
While Shawn Andrews, 25, was a celebrated high school player who went on to become an all-American tackle at Arkansas, his brother never played football until his junior year at the University of Mississippi, where he became a track and field all-American and established school records for the discus and hammer throw.
Stacy Andrews said his brother prompted him to give football a try.
"I regret not giving it a try in high school," he said. "I didn't want to do the same thing leaving college. I talked to Shawn and came up with the decision to give it a try."
The Bengals drafted Stacy Andrews on the fourth round in 2004. He became a starter in 2007, playing left guard before moving to right tackle after five games.
The Andrews brothers could barely contain their excitement.
"It is a pleasure, an honor, a gift," Shawn Andrews said during a teleconference from North Carolina. "It's something we talked about the last few years, and it's something that's come to fruition. It's a beautiful thing."
Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at 215-854-2743 or firstname.lastname@example.org