We in the media take advantage of athletes. All the time. Every day. Since the transformation of what makes news, from the scriptuals' oh-so-sophisticated commentary (say, 10 years ago) to from-the-tap player quotables (since, like, Twitter) you can hang 90 percent of a given beat writer or radio guy's daily accomplishments in the closet of the men and women they cover.

Needless to say, we owed Fletcher Cox one. Still do. Even after Thursday.

Cox returned to NovaCare for the first time yesterday since leaving to tend to the typical gamut of family matters that follow an untimely passing, like that of his cousin, Melvin Baker, 21, who died in a car wreck. Cox was excused from the first two days of what was, for everybody else, a mandatory minicamp.

Upon his return, he probably needed to vent. Not a stretch to think that maybe Cox, the Eagles No. 12 overall pick in April, played pillar of support for the rest of his family. Thursday was his time to lean. To use the media as a sounding board. To claim his half of the "give" in what's so often only "take."

Cox passed.

You wanna talk about toughness? Talk about Cox. Even from the detached vantage point of watching a web videos from your home office (as I did), Cox's focus was unmistakable. He didn't stutter, didn't shift. Thoughts flowed with a strong continuity.

Not at all what you'd expect of a guy who'd just lost someone so dear.

Said Cox (per PhiladelphiaEagles.com): "We did everything together. We rode four-wheelers. We rode horses. Everything. You know, just... When I ate, he ate. We'd go to my momma's house, we'd go to his momma's house. We'd always just have a great time."

Nor from someone who recognized, and acknowledged, his own mortality.

Said Cox: " ... I was talking to Coach Washburn about it, if I would've been at home. I would've been in the car with him. (Reporter: Really?) Yeah. So God has a plan for me."

Awfully mature.

Awfully juicy, too. At least that's thhe knee-jerk of the sports writer after hearing something like that. You feel an itch to extrapolate, to tease out something worth using in a column, to draw conclusions about his leadership and perspective and how it might translate on Sundays -- and our daily blogging, talk radio programs, videocasts, whatever. Don't. Please.

Get the irony here, in that what I'm doing could be considered the very thing I'm crusading against. I'd argue there's a difference, and "active silence" -- my term for talking to people about what they shouldn't be talking about, in anticipation of something they're definitely going to be talking about -- is nobler. But I hear you. Won't bicker back. Not really the point.

What is? Singularly. In a vacuum. Isolated from our reflexes and agendas, everything.

Fletcher Cox went through a pretty rough time, and by dumb luck (or God's gifts, or whatever) sidestepped a tragedy he wouldn't be around to grieve over. Here's to hoping he gets through the one he just did. Per his comments, we're sure he will.