Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Linebackers

Here are most of the Eagles' starting linebackers from 1966 to 1975.

Dave Lloyd was the Birds' starting middle linebacker from 1963 until 5 games into the 1970 season, when he was replaced by Tim Rossovich.

Mike Morgan was the Eagles' starting left linebacker from 1964-67.

Harold Wells (no card) was the starting right linebacker from 1965-68.

Adrian Young was the Eagles' #3 draft pick in 1968, and played left linebacker from 1968-71, although missing most of 1971 due to injury.  By the way, that's not Young's picture on his card.  It's Eagles' 1968 punter Rick Duncan.

Ron Porter was acquired from the Colts in 1969, and was the starting right linebacker for 3 years, and the left-side starter during his 4th and last season with the Birds.

Tim Rossovich was the Eagles' #1 pick in 1968.  After 2+ seasons as the starting left end, he moved to MLB after 5 games in 1970, and remained there through the 1971 season.

Steve Zabel was drafted as a tight end in 1970. He moved to linebacker in his 2nd season, and was a starter for his last 4 seasons in Philly - mostly on the left side but occasionally filling in at MLB.


After Rossovich didn't pan out following 1971, the Eagles brought in a host of middle linebackers in 1972.  Ex-Charger and Steeler Chuck Allen started 8 games in '72, while Zabel started the other 6 games. (MLBs Dick Absher and Bill Cody worked on special teams.)

In 1973, Allen, Absher, and Cody were out, and ex-tight end Marlin McKeever and Dick Cunningham were in. McKeever made 11 starts in the middle, while Cunningham started 2 games. (I can't find my 1973 Dick Cunningham card, so my new Fred Whittingham 1966 custom card is filling in nicely!)

The Eagles finally put an end to their 4-year middle linebacker carousel by trading for Bill Bergey prior to the 1974 season.  Bill solidified the middle for many seasons to come.

Frank Lemaster and John Bunting played on the wings, giving the Birds a nice linebacking corps, something they were missing since Maxie Baughan was traded after 1965.

(When Dick Vermeil arrived in 1976 he went to a 3-4 defense, with LeMaster moving inside next to Bergey.)

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Eagles who also played in the WFL


So I was browsing the 'WFL Rosters' link at the bottom of the right sidebar on this blog, and found these Eagles who also played in the World Football League (1974-75).

The names in green were starters for the Eagles.
Players below the solid line near the end of the list were Eagles after their WFL days. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The D-Line

Here are the Eagles' defensive lineman (mostly starters) who had football cards in the Topps or Philly Gum sets of the time.

Don Hultz played for the Eagles from 1964 to 1973. The starting left defensive end from '65-'67, he was replaced by #1 draft choice Tim Rossovich in 1968, but regained a starting spot (at LDT) when Rosso was moved to MLB midway through the 1970 season.

Floyd Peters was the starting LDT from 1964-69, except for missing 2/3 of 1968. He made 3 Pro Bowls during his time in Philly.

John Meyers was acquired from the Cowboys after the 1963 season, and started at right tackle from 1964-1967.

Rookie Gary Pettigrew replaced the veteran Bobby Richards at right end to start the 1966 season. After 2 years there, Pettigrew moved inside to RT, starting most of 1968-71 there. After a season on the bench, Gary was the starting left tackle in 1973, and was traded to the Giants after 4 games in 1974.

Mel Tom joined the Eagles as a linebacker in 1967 and was soon converted to a defensive end. He started all but 1 game at right end from 1968 to 1972. After 4 starts in 1973 he was dealt to the Bears.

Tim Rossovich was the Birds' top pick in 1968, and when he wasn't eating glass or setting his hair on fire, he played left end for 2-plus seasons. After 5 games in 1970, he was moved to MLB, replacing the veteran Dave Lloyd.

Ernie Calloway started 8 games at left tackle as a rookie in 1969. After 5 games there in '70, he moved to left end (replacing Rossovich) with Hultz returning to the starting lineup at tackle. In '71 he was a swingman – sharing left end with rookie Richard Harris and right tackle with Pettigrew. He started 5 games in 1972, and that was the end of his career. (I have a recollection that he was traded to the Chiefs, but the record doesn’t show any playing time there.)

Like they did 3 years earlier, the Eagles took a defensive end with their #1 pick in 1971. Richard Harris started 10 games at left end as a rookie and 13 more in his sophomore season. With Pettigrew and Calloway both gone by 1973, Harris started 10 games at right tackle, then played his remaining 4 seasons with the Bears and Seahawks.

Will Wynn was a 7th-round pick in 1973 and started 8 games at right end (replacing the departed Mel Tom). After 27 starts at left end from '74-'75, Wynn started every game on the right side in 1976. After the season, coach Dick Vermeil decided Wynn wasn't "his kind of player" and sent him packing.

Other short-term starters:

Randy Beisler (normally a guard) started 8 games at left D tackle in 1968, his 3rd and last season with the Eagles.

After 11 years with the Patriots, Houston Antwine finished his career with 1 season in Philly (1972), starting 9 games at right tackle as the Birds patched their D-line.

Long-time Jet Gerry Philbin shared the left end job with fellow import Dennis Wirgowski. It was Philbin's final season after 9 with the Jets.

After 3 seasons with the Patriots, Dennis Wirgowski finished his career with 8 starts for the Eagles in '73.

With Pettigrew and Harris leaving after 1973, there were no defensive lineman remaining from prior to 1973.  

Joe Jones started 13 games at right end in his 1st season with the Eagles, and 5 more in 1975.

Defensive tackle Bill Dunstan started 7 games in ’73, 7 games in ’74, and 14 games in ’75.

Ex-Bill Jerry Patton started all 14 games at RDT in 1974, his only season in Philly.

Other Eagles’ draft picks Mitch Sutton (7) and Willie Cullars (1) made a few starts in 1974.

Rich Glover played 1 season (1975) with the Eagles, starting all 14 games at left tackle.

Blenda Gay started 8 games at right end in ’75, and ’13 games at left end in 1976. He was shot and killed in a domestic dispute just after the ’76 season.

The ’74 to ’75 Eagles was the era of ”The $400 Defensive Line” (what with waiver pickups costing $100).

Dick Vermeil began a major housecleaning along the D-line, bringing in Manny Sistrunk and Carl Hairston in 1976, and in 1977 switching to a 3-4, with rookie nose tackle Charlie Johnson joining the team.

                             (Rossovich also started 25 games at MLB from 1971 to 1972.)