Best Wide Receivers in Philadelphia Eagles History
Who are the Greatest Wide Receivers in Philadelphia Eagles History?
Since their inception in 1933, the Philadelphia Eagles have had many of the greatest wide receivers to ever play football. Of their 11 Hall of Famers, 3 were wide receivers. With such an incredible history at the position, it's hard to determine who were the best in the team's history, but there are many factors that can help answer that question. This article will cover the top 10 wide receivers in Eagles history by looking at career statistics, franchise records, significant moments and games, impact on the franchise's history or future, and overall success.
Wide receivers are a much-needed position in the NFL. Since the league's inception, the game has progressed to a pass-first offense. Without the help of great receivers, teams wouldn't be able to stretch the field or create big plays through the passing game. As a lifelong football fan, and years of following the Eagles since the days of Andy Reid coaching, I hope this list honors the memory of great Eagles' receivers of the past!
10. Fred Barnett (1990–1995)
Fred Barnett was selected by the Eagles in the third round of 1990 NFL Draft. He spent the next six seasons with the team, earning a reputation for his acrobatic catches and big-play ability. In his rookie season, Barnett scored 8 touchdowns on only 36 receptions, one of which was a 95-yard touchdown, one of the longest in Eagles history.
Barnett began to surge in the NFL, with his second season showing his ability despite the lack of QB Randall Cunningham. In his third season, with the return of Cunningham, Barnett earned a Pro Bowl selection with 1,083 yards and 6 touchdowns. The following season he injured his knee and missed the majority of the year, but rebounded with the best season of his career in 1994 with 1,127 yards and 5 touchdowns. That season earned him the Comeback Player of the Year Award despite his being snubbed for his second Pro Bowl selection. Barnett was one of the most electrifying receivers in Eagles' history and was a threat to score on any given play.
Jersey Number: 86
- 76 career games
- 308 receptions
- 4,634 receiving yards
- 28 receiving touchdowns
- 1992 Pro Bowl selection
Fred Barnett's Greatest Moment
In 1990, Barnett's rookie season, the Eagles faced off against the Buffalo Bills. QB Cunningham hiked the ball from the five-yard line, stepping back into the endzone. Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith was bearing down on Cunningham for what appeared was going to be a safety, but Cunningham made an incredible ducking move to avoid the defenders and get away. Cunningham launched the ball all the way to the opponent's 40-yard line where Barnett and a Bills defender awaited a jump ball. Barnett jumped into the air and snagged the ball, turning and running away from two Bills defenders for a total gain of 95 yards. The play was listed 72nd overall in the NFL's Top 100 Plays of All-Time.
Barnett has two daughters who were on scholarship for sports at the University of Virginia. Myla was there for lacrosse and Hailey was there for crew.
9. Brian Westbrook (2002-2009)
Brian Westbrook is one of the greatest receivers in Eagles' history that never played at the wide receiver position. Despite Westbrook being a running back, he still managed to end his career at the fourth overall leader in receptions for the franchise. He was drafted in the third round of the 2002 NFL Draft and became one of the best dual-threat RBs in the NFL by his second season. Despite being part of a committee at RB, Westbrook was able to amass 426 receptions for 3,790 yards and 29 receiving touchdowns in only 8 seasons.
In 2004, Westbrook led all running backs with 73 receptions for 703 yards, catching 83.9% of all passes thrown his way. He went on that season to help the Eagles make it to their first Super Bowl appearance in 25 years. He caught 7 passes for 60 yards and a touchdown in the game.
In 2007, Westbrook had the greatest statistical year of his career. He caught 90 of his 118 targets for 771 yards and 5 touchdowns. This amazing receiving achievement, along with his great rushing ability and returning ability, helped him to lead all NFL players in yards from scrimmage for the season. He's easily the greatest scoring threat in Eagles' history, and a top receiving option regardless of his position.
Jersey Number: 36
- 107 career games
- 426 receptions
- 3,790 receiving yards
- 29 receiving touchdowns
- 2004, 2007 Pro Bowl selection
- 2007 All-Pro selection
- Eagles Franchise Hall of Fame selection
Brian Westbrook's Greatest Moment
Westbrook is most well-known for a punt return that beat the Giants in 2003, but because this is focused on his receiving skills I'd say his play as a receiver came in his final season with the Eagles in 2009. The Eagles were facing the Vikings in the NFC Wild-Card game. Philadelphia led 16–14 in the middle of the fourth quarter. The Eagles were on their own 29-yard line and Westbrook caught a screen pass out of the backfield. With blockers in front, he weaved his way through defenders, breaking away from an ankle tackle and turning on the jets to escape from everyone for a 71-yard touchdown! The score ultimately sealed the game and the Eagles went on to win 26–14.
Brian Westbrook holds the NCAA career all-purpose yards record with 9,512.
8. DeSean Jackson (2008–2013, 2019–Present)
DeSean Jackson is one of the fastest wide receivers in Eagles history, clocking in a 4.35 40-yard dash. His time spent with the team in the early 2010s is one of the most exciting times for offense-lovers in Eagles' history. Not only was Jackson able to blow past defenses and score at will from anywhere on the field, but he was also a great return man for the team as well. In fact, he was the first player in NFL history to be selected to the Pro Bowl twice in a single season for two different positions, as a wide receiver and as a return man.
Jackson became a household name in Philadelphia and a fan favorite. He was even given a shoutout in the movie "Silver Linings Playbook," a film that takes place in Philadelphia, when a side character yells "DeSean Jackson is the man!" at a tailgate party. His incredible speed and cocky attitude resonated with fans. He was so fast that he would often run backwards into the endzone, or run across the field to showboat before crossing the plane of the endzone.
In the years Jackson has played in Philadelphia he has 365 receptions for 6,276 yards and 34 touchdowns. He also had 17.2 yards per reception and led the league in the category with the Eagles in 2010. He currently sits eighth in receptions and fourth in receiving yards in franchise history. He also has a chance to move even higher in the ranks because he rejoined the Eagles in 2019 via trade.
Jersey Number: 10
- 90 career games
- 365 receptions
- 6,276 receiving yards
- 34 receiving touchdowns
- 2008 All-Rookie Team
- 2009, 2010, 2013 Pro Bowl selection
- Only player in NFL history to be selected to Pro Bowl for two positions in one year
DeSean Jackson's Greatest Moment
Similar to Brian Westbrook, Jackson's greatest moment is on a non-receiving play when he beat the Giants on a punt return to cap off one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history in the Miracle in the Meadowlands. However, Jackson's greatest receiving play is almost as special. On December 12, 2010, Jackson and the Eagles faced off against their rival, the Dallas Cowboys for control of the NFC East. Early in the fourth quarter, the Eagles were on their own nine-yard line. Jackson had injured his foot earlier in the game, but he was about to show that it didn't matter one bit. Jackson ran a short out route and caught the ball about ten yards downfield, breaking off of his defender after the catch. He immediately sprinted past a second defender, juking past a third, and he was off to the races. With a final effort a Cowboy defender dove at Jackson's feet, but he easily pulled away to cap off a 91-yard touchdown! Just before he crossed the plane, he stopped at the one-yard line, turned around completely and fell backward with his arms up in celebration in front of the Cowboys and all the fans of Dallas.
DeSean Jackson is the only player in NFL history to be selected at two different positions for the Pro Bowl in a single year. He was selected as a wide receiver and a return man.
7. Terrell Owens (2004–2005)
Terrell Owens is one of the biggest personalities in NFL history. His career is most well known for his time spent in San Fransisco, but when his time there came near an end he joined the Eagles in a controversial legal battle between the 49ers and himself.
The 49ers argued that Owens' agent had missed the deadline to void the final years of his contract, but Owens argued that the date they were referring to did not apply to his situation. Owens missed out on free agency when he didn't notify the 49ers by February 21 to void the final three years of his contract. Owens had a clause in his contract to void the contract by the first week in March but a collective bargaining override, which was created in 2001, changed the date to February 21. The 49ers believed they held rights to Owens and Owens believed he was a free agent. Soon the two were working on deals simultaneously, with Owens working on a contract to join the Eagles for $49 million over 7 years, and the 49ers trading Owens to the Ravens for a second-round pick. Eventually, the players union got involved and the three teams all worked out a deal. Owens would join the Eagles, the Ravens would get their pick returned to them, and the 49ers received a conditional fifth-round pick and a defensive end in return for Owens' rights as a player. Owens officially joined the Eagles in 2004.
Owens' time with the Eagles was cut short due to money squabbles, but during his short two years with the team, Owens was an unstoppable force. In two years Owens only played in 21 total games due to injury and suspension but despite this, he finished his time in Philadelphia with 124 receptions for 1,963 yards and 20 touchdowns. To this day, Owens has the highest yards per game and receptions per game in Eagles' history. While his time with the team was short, his impact on the field was some of the most dominant at the position for any team at any point in history. One of the greatest wide receivers to ever play in the NFL had some of his best moments wearing silver and midnight green.
Jersey Number: 81
- 21 career games
- 124 receptions
- 1,963 receiving yards
- 20 receiving touchdowns
- Franchise leader in yards per game
- Franchise leader in receptions per game
- 2004 Pro Bowl selection
- 2004 All-Pro selection
- 2018 Hall of Fame inductee
Terrell Owens' Greatest Moment
On December 19, 2004, Owens was a victim of a horse-collar tackle that resulted in a fractured fibula and sprained ankle. He was likely going to be injured and unable to play for the remainder of the season, including the upcoming postseason. The Eagles made a great playoff push and were on their way to their first Super Bowl appearance in 25 years. Owens was not going to allow his only Super Bowl appearance to take place on the sideline. With the help of his personal trainer, Owens used a hyperbaric chamber and a micro-current to speed his healing process. He suited up for the Super Bowl and outplayed every Eagle on the field. He finished the game with 9 receptions for 122 yards, having more catches and yards than anyone on his team. The team ended up losing the game 21–24, but it wasn't due to any lack of determination or skill from Owens.
Terrell Owens once wore a throwback Cowboys Michael Irvin jersey while with the Eagles during a contract negotiation that led to his eventual release.
6. Pete Pihos (1947–1955)
Pete Pihos was selected in the fifth round on the 1945 NFL Draft. Despite this, he went on to finish his college career with the Indiana football program where he had great success as a fullback and went on to attend law school. Pihos was on the only undefeated team in Indiana's history. When he graduated in June of 1947, Pihos signed to join the Philadelphia Eagles. He played defensive end and fullback.
Pihos helped the Eagles make it to three straight NFL Championships in his first three seasons, losing his first and winning the following two. In the 1949 Championship, He scored the only offensive touchdown in the game. His success would continue to follow him until 1952 when he only caught 12 passes in the entire season. Despite this, he still made the Pro Bowl and made a conscious effort to train hard in the offseason. His training paid off and he had the best three statistical seasons of his career, which ended up being his final seasons.
In the last three years of his career, Pihos led the league in receptions all three years. In 1953, the year after his 12-catch season, Pihos led the league in every statistical category with 63 receptions for 1,049 yards and 10 touchdowns. Even more amazingly, this was done in a 12 game season. Pihos currently sits 6th all-time in franchise history for both reception and yards, in a time where running was the first and primary offensive strategy.
Pihos helped to change the league into a passing league. He and the Eagles showed that throwing the ball could be a winning formula and helped to change the world of football forever. In his time with the Eagles, he went to six Pro Bowls, was a five-time All-Pro, won two NFL Championships, and led the league in receptions three times and yards twice. He was the original go-to receiver in the NFL and his impact helped lead him to the Hall of Fame in 1970 and to be selected for the NFL All-1940's Team.
Jersey Number: 35
- 107 career games
- 373 receptions
- 5,619 receiving yards
- 61 receiving touchdowns
- 1950-1955 Pro Bowl selection
- 1949, 1952-1955 All-Pro selection
- Eagles Franchise Hall of Fame selection
- 1970 Hall of Fame inductee
- NFL 1940's All-Decade Team selection
Pete Pihos' Greatest Moment
In 1949, the Eagles faced off against the Los Angeles Rams in the NFL Championship game. The Eagles were the defending champions and the game took place in their opponent's own backyard in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. With the fanbase of the Rams raving, and the weather slamming the game with torrential downpours, the outlook for the Eagles' passing offense looked incredibly bleak. The field became an absolute mud pit. In the second quarter, Pihos ran right up the middle of the field splitting two defenders. His quarterback threw a dart right between two men, with Pihos catching it just behind them. The two defenders collided and fell to the ground as Pihos ran into the endzone untouched, scoring the only offensive touchdown of the game!
While Pihos is known for his receiving ability, he also played defense and even scored a defensive touchdown in 1952.
5. Zach Ertz (2013–Present)
Zach Ertz is the third receiving option on this list that is not a wide receiver. Ertz is a tight end who was drafted in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Since that day, he has dominated on the Philadelphia Eagles as one of the NFL's best tight ends. Ertz has been one of the most highly targeted receivers since he joined the NFL. In fact, since targets have been a recorded statistic, Ertz has the most targets in Eagles' history. He also has the most receptions in a single season for any Eagles player and holds the NFL record for most catches by an NFL tight end in a season.
Ertz has only played seven seasons with the Eagles but currently dominates in multiple receiving categories for their franchise. He's first all-time in targets, second in receptions, fifth in receiving yards, and eighth in receiving touchdowns. NFL teams have started to target athletic tight ends like Ertz to offer more offensive weapons on the field. He was part of the team's only Super Bowl and currently has three Pro Bowl appearances.
Ertz didn't begin his career as a superstar, despite his incredible talent. When he was drafted he was named the third tight end by then-coach Chip Kelly. Kelly wanted to implement a three-tight end system similar to the New England Patriots, but as the years went on Ertz began to eat up more and more targets. After only starting 15 games in his first 3 seasons, Ertz started to take over in 2016. He started 12 of his 14 games and has never given up his starting role since. His hard work has led to him being a legend in Philadelphia Eagles history. In Ertz's time with the Eagles, he has 525 receptions for 5,743 yards and 35 touchdowns.
Jersey Number: 86
- 106 career games
- 525 receptions
- 5,743 receiving yards
- 35 receiving touchdowns
- 2017-2019 Pro Bowl selection
- Super Bowl LII Champion
- Most receptions in a single season for a tight end (116)
- Most receptions in a single game in Eagles history (14)
- Most receptions in a single season in Eagles history (116)
Zach Ertz's Greatest Moment
In Super Bowl LII, the Eagles trailed the Patriots 32–33. With four minutes left to go in the game, the Eagles faced a fourth down with one yard to go. Quarterback Nick Foles found Ertz right on the line of scrimmage where Ertz was tackled but reached out to get the first down. The play likely saved the game for the team and set up a great drive that reached the 11-yard line. On third down, Ertz lined up wide to the left and ran a short in-route. Foles found Ertz and he caught the ball at the seven-yard line and sped past a falling defender to score what would be the game-winning touchdown! Ertz finished the game with 7 receptions for 67 yards and 1 touchdown. Those two catches helped to solidify one of the greatest Cinderella stories in NFL history as the Eagles won their first Super Bowl in team history.
Ertz was one of the top-rated tight ends in the country coming out of Monte Vista High School, which is only one hour north of Stanford where he went to college.
4. Tommy McDonald (1957–1963)
Tommy McDonald was selected in the third round of the 1957 NFL Draft. He was originally selected as a running back and rarely saw the field in his first season outside of kick returns. However, when McDonald got a chance to play the wide receiver position, he amazed the team, having two catches in his first game, both for touchdowns. McDonald wasn't a large player by any means. He stood at only 5'9" tall and weighed only 178 pounds. Despite his small frame, he only missed 3 games in his first 11 years. His size allowed him to be quick and agile, making acrobatic catches that often led to the endzone. Between 1958 and 1962, McDonald had 56 touchdown receptions in only 63 games. He also caught a pass in 93 consecutive games.
McDonald's dominance on the field and big-play ability led to him being one of the Eagles' best receivers and an induction into the Hall of Fame. He currently leads the franchise with 19.2 receiving yards per catch. During his time with the Eagles, he had 287 receptions for 5,499 yards and 66 touchdowns. He was selected for five Pro Bowls over that time period, and he was also part of the Eagles' 1960 NFL Championship team, catching a touchdown in the game. That team was the only team that Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers ever lost to in a championship game.
McDonald led the league in many statistical categories throughout his career. He led the league in touchdowns twice and in yardage once. In 1961, McDonald finished the season with 1,144 yards and 13 touchdowns, leading the league in both statistical categories. During that season he also set the franchise's single-game record for yards in a game against the New York Giants with 237 yards. He's not only one of the greatest Eagles' wide receivers of all time, but one of the NFL's best receivers also.
Jersey Number: 25
- 88 career games
- 287 receptions
- 5,499 receiving yards
- 66 receiving touchdowns
- Most yards per catch in Eagles' history (19.2 yards per catch)
- 1958-1962 Pro Bowl selection
- 1998 Hall of Fame inductee
Tommy McDonald's Greatest Moment
Tommy McDonald and the Eagles faced off against Vince Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers in 1960. At the time, no one knew that Lombardi and the Packers would go on to be one of the greatest dynasty teams of all time, but the Eagles knew that the team was perfectly coached and dangerous. McDonald caught a pass deep from quarterback Norman Van Brocklin in the second quarter to take the lead over the Packers 7–6, shaking off a would-be tackler inside the five-yard line as he went. The play helped the Eagles win their third championship and first in 11 years! The win would also go down as the only loss in Lombardi's championship career.
McDonald was the last non-kicker to wear a helmet without a facemask. He is also the smallest player inducted in the NFL Hall of Fame.
3. Pete Retzlaff (1956–1966)
Pete Retzlaff was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the 22nd round of the 1953 NFL Draft, but he never made the team. He went to serve two years in the Army, and when he returned his rights were sold to the Philadelphia Eagles. Retzlaff had never caught a single pass in college, but the Eagles were desperate for talent and moved him to the end position anyway. He started his career slowly, only catching 22 passes in his first two seasons with the team, but in 1956 he began his dominant career. His third season with the team Retzlaff led the league in receptions with 56. He went on to be selected to five Pro Bowls and was a part of the 1960 championship team.
Retzlaff's consistency throughout his career led to him being one of the best receivers in Eagles' history. He currently sits third in receptions, second in receiving yards, and fifth in receiving touchdowns in franchise history. He was also the league's most valuable player in 1965 when he was awarded the Bert Bell Award.
Retzlaff's success didn't end there. He went on to be the president of the NFL Players Association from 1962-1964. He was well respected around the league for his talent and his intelligence. From 1969-1972 he served as the Eagles' vice president and general manager. He was one of the most involved players in Eagles' history, and had his number retired by the team and was inducted into the Eagles' Hall of Fame.
Jersey Number: 44
- 132 career games
- 452 receptions
- 7,412 receiving yards
- 47 touchdowns
- 1958, 1960, 1963–1965 Pro Bowl selection
- 1965 All-Pro selection
- 1965 Bert Bell Award recipient
- Jersey number 44 retired by the Eagles
- Eagles Hall of Fame inductee
Pete Retzlaff's Greatest Moment
Pete Retzlaff headed into the NFL as a running back who never caught a pass in college. After three years of failing to make a roster, Retzlaff landed with the Eagles with Norman Van Brocklin as a new quarterback. Van Brocklin claimed Retzlaff ran routes like his friend Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch, who he had played with in Los Angeles. With Van Brocklin's training, Retzlaff began to train himself on how to catch the football with his hands instead of his body. Coupling this new skill with his already great route running talent led to Retzlaff leading the league in receptions in 1956 and catapulting his career into the future.
Despite his illustrious career catching the football, Pete Retzlaff never caught a pass in college.
2. Mike Quick (1982–1990)
Mike Quick was selected 20th overall in the first round of the 1982 NFL Draft. While he didn't start a single game as a rookie, Quick burst onto the scene in his second season with the Eagles, leading the NFL in receiving yards with 1,409. He went on to surpass the 1,000-yard mark in the following two seasons and became a perennial Pro Bowler during his first five seasons. Quick began to slow down in his career after that, having it cut short due to severe patella tendinitis. However, the end of his career didn't end his time with the silver and midnight green.
Quick went on to become the Eagles' color commentator for local Eagles' broadcast stations in 1998, where he has remained ever since with Philadelphia broadcast legend Merrill Reese. Anyone living in the Philadelphia area knows Quick's voice when they listen to the games every Sunday and hear his input.
It's no secret that Quick is a fan favorite in Philly, and had his career not become marred with injuries he would have a bust in Canton today. Between 1983 and 1985 Quick was arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL, averaging nearly 68 catches for 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns. Despite his injuries only allowing him to play in a full season twice, he currently sits ninth in receptions, third in yards, and fourth in touchdowns in franchise history.
Jersey Number: 82
- 101 career games
- 363 receptions
- 6,464 receiving yards
- 61 receiving touchdowns
- 1983-1987 Pro Bowl selection
- 1983, 1985 All-Pro selection
- 1983 NFL receiving yards leader (1,409 yards)
- Single-game record for the longest play (99 yards)
- Eagles Hall of Fame inductee
Mike Quick's Greatest Moment
In 1985, the Eagles were in overtime with the Atlanta Falcons, tied 17–17. The Eagles were backed up as far as they could be, inside their own one-yard line. With Quick lined up to the right, quarterback Ron Jawarski threw to him. Quick caught the ball and squeezed between two defenders who were only inches away from him. From there he had nothing but grass ahead of him and he sprinted down the field to win the game while tying the NFL record for the longest play in history.
Mike Quick has been a color commentator for the Eagles since 1998. His 99-yard touchdown is the longest play in overtime history.
1. Harold Carmichael (1971–1983)
When it comes to making lists it can be hard to choose the top spot at times, but that isn't the case with Harold Carmichael. Carmichael was a physical specimen of power and size. Standing at 6'8" and weighing in at 225 pounds, Carmichael looked down on everyone. He was selected by the Eagles in the seventh round of the 1971 NFL Draft and began his career as a tight end, getting little production but still leading all tight ends with 20 receptions. The following season, Carmichael was moved to wide receiver and in his third year he broke out.
In 1973, Carmichael led the league in receptions and yards with 67 catches for 1,116 yards. He also finished fourth overall in the league with 9 touchdowns. He remained consistent over the next three years, though his production did fall due to poor quarterback play, but he became dominant once again with the arrival of quarterback Ron Jawarski in 1977. After that season he was selected to three straight Pro Bowls, averaging 50 receptions for 920 yards and 9 touchdowns over that time.
Carmichael played all but one season with the Eagles, racking up incredible statistics that lead the franchise by a mile. Carmichael is first in receptions, yards, and touchdowns in Eagles' franchise history, with only his receptions currently being in danger of being surpassed anytime soon. He leads the number two yardage leader by 1,500 yards and the second place touchdown leader by 13. Carmichael had a long successful career with the Eagles and he continued on his success after his retirement in 1984. Since 1998, Carmichael has been the Eagles' Director of Player and Community Relations. He was selected to the Eagles' Hall of Fame in 1987 and is a member of the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team. He was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in 2020.
Jersey Number: 17
- 180 career games
- 589 receptions
- 8,978 receiving yards
- 79 receiving touchdowns
- 1973, 1978-1980 Pro Bowl selection
- 1973 NFL receiving yards leader (1,116 yards)
- 1973 NFL receptions leader (67)
- 1980 NFL Man of the Year
- Eagles Hall of Fame inductee
- 2020 Hall of Fame inductee
- 1970s NFL All-Decade Team selection
Harold Carmichael's Greatest Moment
Despite being the greatest wide receiver in Eagles' history by a mile, Carmichael was snubbed from the Hall of Fame until 2020. His greatest moment is finally getting the credit he deserved after being passed by many other Eagles greats for the golden jacket.
Harold Carmichael is the tallest wide receiver in NFL history at 6'8".
Who is the Best Philadelphia Eagles Wide Receiver Ever?
Harold Carmichael is the greatest wide receiver in Philadelphia Eagles history. Standing at 6'8" and weighing in at 225 pounds, Carmichael towered over his competition during his career with the Eagles. He leads the team in every major statistical category for receiving and was honored by the team as part of their team Hall of Fame in 1987. The rest of the NFL caught up in recognizing Carmichael in 2020 when he was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
When Carmichael finally got inducted he said "I feel like I’m dreaming. I don’t know what to feel. I feel so numb. The first thing I thought about was growing up and the people that I was around and it just went from Jacksonville, Florida up to New Jersey now and just thinking about all the people that I would like to share this with. Because it wasn’t just me by myself, there were times when I wanted to quit but people said keep going. This is such an honor, something that everybody that played in the NFL, are playing in the NFL, this is where they want to get and it’s a blessing to me to be able to be a part of it, the gold jacket guys.”
Cris Carter (1987–1989)
The story of Cris Carter and the Eagles isn't of greatness, but what could have been. Carter was drafted by the Eagles in the fourth round of the 1987 supplemental draft. Carter went on to play three seasons with the team, racking up 1,450 yards and 18 touchdowns over that time.
After the 1989 season, and just as Carter was emerging as a star in the league, head coach Buddy Ryan cut Carter in a move that surprised the entire league. Carter has since made it known that the move was due to his own issues that caused a fallout between Ryan and himself. Carter was dealing with drug addiction, specifically cocaine, ecstasy, and marijuana. Today, Carter attributes his turnaround in life to Ryan because of that move, saying it was his lowest moment in life and a wakeup call. Carter went on to have a Hall of Fame career with the Minnesota Vikings.
Ben Hawkins (1966–1973)
Ben "The Dangling Chinstrap" Hawkins was drafted by the Eagles in the third round of the 1966 NFL draft. He spent eight years with the team and during his time there, he caught 261 passes for 4,764 yards and 32 touchdowns. His rookie season he dropped many balls during the season. He had been hyped to be a much better player than he was, and when the boos began to rain in, Hawkins knew he had to focus up. In 1967, his second season, Hawkins led the league in receiving yards with 1,265 yards. He added an additional 10 touchdowns and led the league in yards per game with 90.4. Hawkins currently sits 11th all-time in franchise history for receiving yards.
Hawkins was known as "The Dangling Chinstrap." When he was in college he would regularly leave his chinstrap unhooked so that between plays he could lift his helmet to help himself catch his breath and get air in his helmet. When he made it to the NFL, he was so used to this that he never strapped his chinstrap. The name carried on. Hawkins said this habit led to his helmet being knocked off multiple times and he believes the rules stating you must fasten the strap in today's league are specifically because of him.
Jeremy Maclin (2009–2014)
Jeremy Maclin was a staple of the Eagles' offense in the early 2010s. He was selected 19th overall in the 2009 NFL draft. He was paired with DeSean Jackson and the duo made up a deadly receiving core for quarterback Michael Vick. During Maclin's time with the Eagles, they were one of the best offensive units in the NFL, boasting a top 5 offense in four of his six seasons with the team. During his time with the team, Maclin had 343 receptions for 4,771 yards and 36 touchdowns. Considering he was the fourth offensive weapon in the lineup behind Jackson, Vick, and running back LeSean McCoy, that's pretty impressive!
Maclin is 10th all-time in franchise history for receptions and receiving yards, despite losing the entire 2013 season to a torn ACL. The following season Maclin returned and had his best season with the team, with 85 receptions, 1,318 yards, and 10 touchdowns. He went to the Pro Bowl that year and was awarded the Ed Block Courage Award by his teammates for his inspiring return to the game of football after such a devastating injury.