Top 10 Philadelphia Eagles of the Super Bowl Era
How I Picked the Top 10 Players
I have been a Philadelphia sports fan my entire life (51 years and counting now), and the Eagles are my favorite team. My father and brother took me to games at old Veterans Stadium when I was little, and I have had my own season tickets since I graduated college in 1990. That means that I have seen a lot of Eagles football and I've certainly formed some pretty strong opinions about the team. Naturally, a list of the top 10 Philadelphia Eagles is something that I feel very strongly about.
When creating a list of the greatest players of a team in any sport, you need to establish certain criteria or it simply becomes a list of your favorite players. With that in mind, here is how I came up with my list.
- I may be old, but I'm only one year younger than the Super Bowl. As a result, I decided that this list would only include players from the Super Bowl era (1967-present).
- Even though it's hard to compare statistics from 40 to 50 years ago to what players are doing today, I relied heavily on the numbers.
- I only considered what a player did while he was a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.
- I had to put aside any grudges I may hold against certain players who left my team.
Since this list only includes players from the Super Bowl era, NFL Hall of Fame players and Eagle greats like Chuck Bednarik, Tommy McDonald, Pete Pihos, Steve Van Buren, and Al Wistert are not on this list. Maybe someday, I'll make that old-timers' list, too. For now, I'm concentrating on players that I actually saw play.
As I mentioned before, I relied on the statistics to help me make this list, so only one player on the current Eagles roster makes my list. Sure, players like Malcolm Jenkins and Fletcher Cox are stars, but they haven't done quite enough to earn their place in the Top 10. Similarly, I hope that Carson Wentz is someday sitting at No. 1 on any list of the greatest Eagles. But let's give him a chance to win his first Super Bowl himself before we start entertaining those thoughts.
10. Eric Allen
- Played cornerback for the Eagles from 1988 to 1994
- Tied for most interceptions (34) by an Eagle
- Most interception return touchdowns (5) in franchise history
- Eagles Hall of Fame Inductee: 2011
Eric Allen isn't a member of the NFL Hall of Fame, but he probably should be. Allen only played seven seasons in Philadelphia, but they were incredible seasons. He made the Pro Bowl five times and was an All-Pro selection three times. His 34 INTs are tied for the most in Eagles history. He also holds the team record of five interception return touchdowns, including an NFL record four in 1993. His most memorable play was against the New York Jets on October 2, 1993. His 94-yard interception return for a touchdown was called, "the greatest interception return in NFL history" by Steve Sabol of NFL Films. Allen played a few more years with Oakland and New Orleans and ended up with 54 interceptions and nine touchdowns.
9. Randall Cunningham
- Played quarterback for the Eagles from 1985 to 1995
- Third in passing yards (22,877) and sixth in rushing yards (4,482) in Eagles history
- Once dubbed "The Ultimate Weapon" by Sports Illustrated
- Eagles Hall of Fame Inductee: 2009
Once dubbed "The Ultimate Weapon" by Sports Illustrated, Randall Cunningham revolutionized the quarterback position. Cunningham was a human highlight reel during his 11 seasons in Philadelphia, with his ability to throw a football nearly the length of the field, outrun defenders and even punt the football 91 yards. He is third in passing yards (22,877) and sixth in rushing yards (4,482) in franchise history. Cunningham finished his career with stints in Minnesota, Dallas and Baltimore and is still the NFL's all-time rushing leader among quarterbacks with 4,928 yards.
8. Harold Carmichael
- Played wide receiver for the Eagles from 1971 to 1983
- The all-time Eagles franchise leader in receptions (589), yards receiving (8,978) and Touchdowns (79)
- Eagles Hall of Fame Inductee: 1987
Harold Carmichael is the all-time Eagles franchise leader in receptions (589), yards receiving (8,978) and touchdowns (79). As a matter of fact, when he retired, his 590 receptions were the sixth most in NFL history. He played 13 seasons and 180 games, while earning four trips to the Pro Bowl for the Eagles, before finishing his career with Dallas. Fortunately for Eagles fans, they didn't have to see Carmichael in the hated Cowboys colors for long. After just two games and one reception for 7 yards, he decided he just didn't look right in any other uniform other than the Eagles and retired.
7. Nick Foles
- Played quarterback for the Eagles from 2012 to 2014 and from 2017 to 2018
- Won the MVP Award in Super Bowl LII, while leading the Eagles to their only Super Bowl Championship in franchise history
- Has the highest career quarterback rating in team history (93.2)
- Threw for the most yards in a game (471) and the most touchdowns (NFL record-tying 7) in a game in Eagles history
The man who delivered the first Lombardi Trophy to the Eagles franchise and won the MVP award in Super Bowl LII has to be on this list. Nick Foles also has the highest career quarterback rating in team history (93.2) and the team's highest single season quarterback rating (119.2 in 2013). He's 9th in passing yards (8,703), 8th in touchdown passes (58) and has the lowest career interception percentage (0.63 in 2013) in Eagles history. Foles threw for the most yards ever in a game for the Eagles (471 on 12/23/18 vs. the Texans) and the most touchdown passes in a game (7 on 11/3/13 at Raiders), which tied him for the most ever in NFL history. His 27 touchdown passes and only 2 interceptions in 2013 was the best TD-INT ratio in NFL history at the time. His 119.2 quarterback rating in 2013 was 3rd all-time, trailing only Aaron Rodgers' 122.5 rating in 2011 and Peyton Manning's 121.1 rating in 2004. Then, in 2015, Chip Kelly traded him.
The Eagles brought Foles back as the backup to Carson Wentz in 2017 and Foles proceeded to lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl title after Wentz got hurt in Week 14 of that season. Foles completed 28 of 43 passes for 373 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT in the Super Bowl. You probably also remember his famous play call (Philly Philly) and touchdown catch, which made Foles the first player to both throw and catch a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl. There's even a statue of him outside Lincoln Financial Field, commemorating that play call.
Honestly, the only reason Foles isn't near the very top of this list is that he was only with the Eagles for five seasons and he was never really the unquestioned starter during his time with the team. But Nick Foles will forever be a hero in the City of Brotherly Love for all of the magical things he did during his relatively brief time with the Eagles.
By the way, you can't hear it in the video above, but Foles actually called that trick play.
6. Brian Westbrook
- Played running back for the Eagles from 2002 to 2009
- Eagles all-time leader in yards from scrimmage (9,785)
- Third in rushing yards (5,995) and fourth in receptions (426) for the Eagles
- Upon his retirement, he was one of only six players in NFL history with 30+ rushing touchdowns and 30+ receiving touchdowns
- Eagles Hall of Fame Inductee: 2015
Brian Westbrook was a two-time Pro Bowler, who is best known for his game-winning 84-yard punt return touchdown at Giants Stadium in October 2003. Radio announcer, Mike Quick dubbed it, "Miracle at the Meadowlands Two". He is the Eagles' all-time leader in yards from scrimmage (9,785), third in rushing yards (5,995), fourth in receptions (426), 14th in receiving yards (3,790), fourth in rushing touchdowns (37), third in overall touchdowns (68) and seventh in scoring (410 points). If all of that isn't enough, upon his retirement, Westbrook was also one of only six players in NFL history with 30+ rushing touchdowns and 30+ receiving touchdowns in his career. Not bad for an undersized kid from a small Philadelphia college, better known for basketball.
5. Donovan McNabb
- Played quarterback for the Eagles from 1999 to 2013
- The winningest quarterback in Eagles history
- The franchise leader in passing yards (32,873) and touchdowns (216)
- Led the Eagles to Super Bowl XXXIX
- Eagles Hall of Fame Inductee: 2013
Donovan McNabb simply had to be No. 5 on this list. When he was inducted into the Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Fame, McNabb said, "Number 5 will always love you" during his acceptance speech on the field at halftime. So yeah, No. 5 is perfect for Donovan.
He led the team to five NFC East division titles, five NFC Championship Games and an appearance in Super Bowl XXXIX. Things went poorly for McNabb in that Super Bowl, while "coughing up" the game, but he is still considered the greatest quarterback in Eagles history. He is the winningest quarterback in team history. McNabb is also the all-time franchise leader in pass attempts (4,746), completions (2,801), yards passing (32,873) and touchdown passes (216). He was a six-time Pro Bowler in his time with the Eagles, before ending his career with a season in Washington and his last season in Minnesota.
4. LeSean McCoy
- Played running back for the Eagles from 2009 to 2014
- The all-time Eagles leader in rushing yards (6,792)
- Has the most rushing yards and touchdowns in a season for the Eagles
LeSean McCoy might have only played six seasons and 90 games as an Eagle but he is still the all-time leading rusher in franchise history, with 6,792 yards. He is third in rushing touchdowns (44) and ninth in total touchdowns (54). McCoy also had some of the most spectacular individual games and seasons in Eagles history. He had the most rushing yards in a season (1,607 in 2013) and the most touchdowns in a season (20 in 2011) for the Eagles. His most memorable game was on December 8, 2013, when he rushed for 2017 yards against the Detroit Lions on a snow covered field. It was hard to even see the field that day, with the driving snow, but McCoy looked like the only player on the field who wasn't wearing ice skates. It's too bad Chip Kelly traded him for next to nothing before the 2015 season or there is no telling how many all-time Eagles records McCoy would hold.
3. Jason Peters
- Played left tackle for the Eagles from 2009 to the present
- Nine-time Pro Bowl selection
- Was an undrafted tight end when he came into the league in 2004
Jason Peters is the only active Eagle on this list and the only offensive lineman. The reason for that is simple. Jason Peter is one of the greatest offensive linemen to ever play the game of football. Period. Considering the fact that he plays the premier position of Left Tackle, only makes his accomplishments greater. It's even more amazing when you realize that Peters was an undrafted tight end when he came into the NFL. It's hard to apply any statistics to offensive linemen, since the NFL doesn't even consider sacks allowed to be an official stat, but Peters was universally considered the best Left Tackle in the NFL during much of his time with the Eagles. He went to nine Pro Bowls and was a two time All-Pro first team pick and four time All-Pro second team pick. It is widely assumed that 2019 will be his last season in the NFL before he retires. If that's the case, then five years from now he will be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame as a unanimous first year selection.
2. Reggie White
- Played defensive end for the Eagles from 1985 to 1992
- Eagles all-time career leading in sacks (124)
- Defensive Player of the Year (1987)
- Eagles Hall of Fame Inductee: 2005
- Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee: 2006
I know what you're thinking. How in the world can Reggie White not be No. 1 on the list of the greatest Philadelphia Eagles? Let me explain.
Yes, White was one of the greatest NFL players of all-time. He was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice (1987 and 1998). White went to 13 Pro Bowls and was a 13-time All Pro. His 198 career sacks are second in NFL history behind only Bruce Smith (200). But he only played for the Philadelphia Eagles for eight years. That means only 7 of those 13 Pro Bowls were in Philly. Only 124 of his sacks and one of his Defensive Player of the Year awards were while he was wearing the kelly green uniforms of the Philadelphia Eagles. Those 124 sacks are still, by far, the most in Eagles history though. And his 21 sacks in 1987 still stand as the most in a season by an Eagles player. It's just that when considering who the greatest player ever to wear an Eagles uniform was, you can only look at what they accomplished for this team. That is where White comes up just a bit short.
Reggie White was an all-time great in the NFL, but he is only second among Eagles players.
1. Brian Dawkins
- Played safety for the Eagles from 1996 to 2008
- Eagles franchise leader in games played (183)
- Tied for most interceptions (34) in franchise history
- One of only five players in NFL history to record at least 30 interceptions and 20 sacks in a career
- Eagles Hall of Fame Inductee: 2012
- Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee: 2018
Brian Dawkins is the very embodiment of a Philadelphia Eagle. His leadership on and off the field were unparalleled for the franchise. Philly fans love their defense and Dawkins was a legend. In most NFL cities, the quarterback is the star and leader of the team. In Philly it was Brian Dawkins. He also redefined the safety position in the NFL. When legendary Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson got Dawkins, he realized just how special he could be. Dawkins could cover like a cornerback, hit like a linebacker, and blitz like a defensive end. In short, there was nothing he couldn't do on the defensive side of the football. Actually there was nothing he didn't do on the defensive side of the ball.
During his 13 seasons in Philadelphia, Dawkins went to eight Pro Bowls and was a five-time All-Pro selection. He finished his Eagles career in 2008 as the franchise leader in games played (183) and tied for the most interceptions (34). Dawkins is one of only five players in NFL history to record at least 30 interceptions and 20 sacks in a career. He also forced 37 fumbles.
I was never more disappointed in the Philadelphia Eagles than when they low-balled Dawkins in contract negotiations and let him leave via free agency in 2009. It was reported that even team owner, Jeffrey Lurie was upset with GM Joe Banner for not keeping Dawkins an Eagle for life. After three years in Denver, Dawkins retired from football and Lurie righted a wrong and hired Dawkins in an advisory role within the organization. This was especially important because, although Dawkins never got a ring during his time as a player, he received a Super Bowl ring as a member of the Eagles front office in 2017.
Brian Dawkins was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame in 2018 in his first year of eligibility. And now, he's on the top of this list of the Top 10 Philadelphia Eagles Players of the Super Bowl Era. I'm sure he's proud of both accomplishments.
Now that we've taken a journey through my Top 10, let's take a look at a few Honorable Mentions. These are the players who I initially thought just had to be on the list, but the more I thought about it and the more I dove into the stats, they just didn't make the cut for the Top 10. I've listed these players in alphabetical order.
- Played kicker for the Eagles from 1999 to 2010
- Eagles Hall of Fame Inductee: 2017
David Akers made 5 Pro Bowls and is the career points leader for the Eagles (1,323). Unfortunately for him, there is simply no way a kicker is making any Top 10 list I ever create. However, Akers will forever be a legend in Philadelphia for his trolling of Cowboy fans during the 2018 NFL Draft in Dallas. Not bad for a kicker.
- Played defensive tackle for the Eagles from 1987 to 1991
- Eagles Hall of Fame Inductee: 1996
Jerome Brown was a dominating defensive tackle on one of the greatest defenses in the history of the sport. The 1991 Eagles finished No. 1 against the run, No. 1 against the pass and No. 1 overall. Brown was a big reason for those rankings, but he only played 5 years and made 2 Pro Bowls before his untimely death at the age of 27 in 1992. What a shame. Ultimately, Brown's death was the first domino to fall in all of those great defensive players leaving the Eagles, mostly due to owner Norman Braman refusing to pay them.
- Played defensive end and linebacker for the Eagles from 2005 to 2014
Trent Cole's 85.5 sacks are the second most in Eagles' history. He was also a stout run defender. Cole made 2 Pro Bowls and was a second team All-Pro once. Interesting tidbit: The Eagles drafted Cole with a fifth round draft pick in the 2005 draft, that was obtained from the Washington Redskins for receiver James Thrash.
- Played wide receiver for the Eagles from 2008 to 2013 and 2019 to the present
DeSean Jackson just resigned with the Eagles this offseason and caught 8 passes for 154 yards and 2 touchdowns in the first game of the season. Those 2 touchdowns were over 50 yards, so only Jerry Rice, with 36, has more 50-plus-yard touchdowns than Jackson's 31. He also has the 4th most receiving yards (6,117) in Eagles history. Plus, he is tied with Darren Sproles with the most punt return touchdowns (4) in team history. Welcome back, D-Jax. What was Chip Kelly thinking?
- Played quarterback for the Eagles from 1977 to 1986
- Eagles Hall of Fame Inductee: 1992
Known affectionately as "The Polish Rifle," Ron Jaworski threw for the second most yards (26,963) and second most touchdowns (175) in franchise history. He also took the Eagles to their first Super Bowl after the 1980 season. His failure in that game is all that kept him off the Top 10 list.
- Played running back for the Eagles from 1977 to 1984
- Eagles Hall of Fame Inductee: 1987
Wilbert Montgomery was in my original Top 10, but he just got nudged out at the last second. Montgomery has the second most rushing yards (6,538) and second most rushing touchdowns (45) in franchise history. He also rushed for 194 yards in the 1980 NFC Championship Game, against the hated Dallas Cowboys, that propelled the Eagles into the first Super Bowl in team history. His 42-yard touchdown run, on the second play from scrimmage in that game, set the tone for the win and cemented his place in Eagles lore.
- Played wide receiver for the Eagles from 1982 to 1990
- Eagles Hall of Fame Inductee: 1995
Mike Quick was an incredibly talented receiver, who made 5 Pro Bowls and has the third most receiving yards (6,464) and third most touchdowns (61) in franchise history. He led the NFL in receiving yards in 1983 with 1,409 and finished second in the NFL in 1985 with 1,247. He also has the longest receiving touchdown in Eagles history on November 10, 1985 when he caught a 99-yard touchdown pass from Ron Jaworski to beat the Atlanta Falcons in overtime. Quick is currently the color commentator for Eagles radio broadcasts.