With several Philadelphia Eagles players putting down the pigskin, a new generation for the Birds is emerging. But, of the former stars, who will be remembered?
Sure, some will find themselves on car dealership commercials, as high school football coaches, as ESPN analysts or speaking to children day camps about perseverance and leadership. However, all of them will covet—secretly or blatantly—the opportunity to walk through the glass double doors underneath the creamy white canopy in Canton, Ohio. The Hall of Fame cements legends, clearing the fog of time to show this one man will not be forgotten; he will not fade away.
Who will be the hall of famer that you watched? The one my Dad would always point to and say he had a ticket to Canton.
Naturally, I’d like every Eagle who has ended his career to be fastened onto the wall of fame. From a realistic view though, I’ll have to narrow my lens and highlight some true all stars.
A disclaimer: I’ll probably get rather nostalgic and sappy.
Brian Dawkins will return and end his career as an Eagle. His stats speak volumes of dedication and passion: 1,131 career tackles, 37 forced fumbles, 37 interceptions, 175 deflected passes, Nine-time Pro Bowl selection, NFL 2000s All-Decade Team, Philadelphia Eagles 75th Anniversary Team. The man was a monster on the field, a tremendous leader and set a good example. He could and would knock anyone senseless but never in a Dunta Robinson or Jerome Harrison type of way.
He battled through the awful NFC title losses and eventually Super Bowl loss. He stood as the backbone of our defense for 10 years, redefining the free safety position for Philadelphia and the NFL, and set that one record where he recorded a sack, interception, fumble recovery and touchdown reception against the Houston Texans. Dawkins will be crystallized in every Eagles fan’s heart.
I have mixed feelings about claiming Brian Westbrook deserves a spot in the hall of fame. I want him there, but his injury riddled past puts a damper on his chances. Westbrook was one of the most dynamic dual-threat running backs to play football. His 2006 and 2007 seasons will standout in Eagles’ history as times when B-West shouldered the team.
He was our best running back and wide receiver nearly his entire tenure in Philadelphia and opened Andy Reid’s playbook like no other. That’s his ticket in. No other running back has affected a team’s passing game like Brian Westbrook did—even though the receivers on the team were rather subpar, so that helped him out.
Nevertheless, B-West was the shiftiest, quickest ball of muscle the Eagles ever had and controlled game’s tempo while redirecting the defense toward him. He was a game changer and playmaker.
Donovan McNabb deserves the hall of fame. I’m jumping into this argument rather late, but I wanted to get my opinion out there.
McNabb led Philadelphia like a true warrior. I know he lost four NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl. But he also was throwing to receivers like Todd Pinkston—who lost every other pass in the lights—and Freddie Mitchell—one of the Eagles’ biggest busts—and an undersized James Thrash. He created victories and created moments for the Eagles. Remember when he scrambled for 14 seconds against the Cowboys before completing a 60 yard pass to Mitchell? Or playing on a sprained ankle while completing 22-27 passes against the Cardinals?
When the Eagles gave McNabb a decent receiver in TO, we went 13-3, and McNabb played lights out. He served as a leader who didn’t leave the Eagles searching for more money. He was a prototype for running quarterbacks. He leads the Eagles in career wins, pass attempts and completions, passing yards and passing touchdowns despite the lack of a playmaker wide receiver most of his tenure—that’s a franchise quarterback.
McNabb did struggle with accuracy and under/overthrowing receivers, which cost us plenty of timely touchdowns. But I’m still hesitant to heap all the blame of every loss on him. Maybe it’s because I grew up wanting to be like him or thought the receiver’s shouldered more blame than they were being allotted. The flipside is that it doesn’t matter what he’s done or not done; what matters is no Super Bowl. But keep in mind Ron Jaworski, Randall Cunningham, Warren Moon and Dan Marino didn’t win a ring either; that’s some good company.
There are other Eagles’ players who deserve a shot to be immortalized in NFL history. These are the ones I would elect. However, ultimately, my voice doesn’t have much sway in the votes. Perhaps I can write to Michael Wilbon and tell him what I think.
But tell me who would you canonize in the NFL literature at Canton, Ohio?