Darius Slay announces he will wear No. 24 for Eagles in honor of Kobe Bryant

Darius Slay is the newest member of the Philadelphia Eagles, who finally find the No. 1 cornerback the team has longed for since Asante Samuel played for the franchise from 2008 to 2011. While expectations will be high for Slay (especially given the three-year, $50 million extension he signed for the Eagles), he’ll have to live up to them with a new jersey number. 

Rodney McLeod has manned the No. 23 (Slay’s number with the Detroit Lions) for the past four seasons in Philadelphia. Slay had other plans for his next jersey number, choosing No. 24 in honor of the late Kobe Bryant. 

“I’m going with that 2-4 man,” Slay said in an Instagram Live video (via John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia). “I’m going Kobe mode. Black Mamba. Rest in peace to the GOAT. One of my favorite players. I’ll look good in 24.”

Bryant, a graduate of Lower Merion High School just outside Philadelphia, grew up in the Philadelphia area and was a noted Eagles fan. When the Eagles visited Los Angeles during Week 14 of their 2017 championship shown, Bryant spoke to the team in advance of their first-place showdown with the Rams. 

“I think the character of this team is special and that’s what wins championships,” Bryant said. “You have certain moments when you go up and down, but when the spirit of the team is a strong one, a collective one … then you have something that’s truly special.” 

Bryant also had the Instagram story seen around the world when the Eagles defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII, showcasing how every Eagles fan felt when the franchise snapped their 57-year championship drought. 

Slay will look to channel his inner Kobe Bryant mentality as the new leader of the Eagles’ secondary. He has earned three consecutive Pro Bowls and has recorded multiple interceptions in each of the past six years. Slay has 347 tackles, 104 passes defensed and 19 interceptions in his seven-year career. 

Living up to the hype the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL (in terms of average annual value) will be difficult, but a much-improved Eagles secondary will go toward a long way toward Slay exceeding expectations in Philadelphia. 

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