Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Receivers

Here are the Eagles’ top receivers from 1966-75. Unless otherwise mentioned in the text below, all the other significant pass catchers were running backs.


The Eagles starting receivers in 1966 were Pete Retzlaff (TE), Fred Hill (SE) and Ron Goodwin (FL). Retzlaff’s entire career (1956-66) was as a starter for the Eagles, first as a split end before moving to tight end in 1963. Hill played his entire career (1965-71) with the Eagles, and in 1966 filled in at SE for Ray Poage, the Eagles split end in ’64 and ’65 who missed the ’66 season with a knee injury. Goodwin also played his entire career (1963-68) with the Eagles, and was their starting flanker from 1963-66. Rookie Ben Hawkins was the #4 receiver, almost equaling Goodwin’s catches.

A new group of receivers took over in 1967. Hawkins led the team in receptions from his flanker spot, and was joined by newly-acquired veterans Gary Ballman (SE) and Mike Ditka (TE). Hawkins played for the Eagles from 1966-74, and was a starting wideout every season except his first and last. He led the NFL in receiving yards in 1967. Ballman played for the Eagles from 1967-72, and was a starter every season but his last. After 2 years as a split end, he moved to TE in 1969. Ditka sandwiched his 2 seasons with the Eagles (’67-’68) between stints with the Bears and Cowboys. He was the starting TE in ’67 (although missing 5 games), but was 2nd-team in 1968.

Fred Hill replaced Ditka at tight end in 1968, joining Hawkins and Ballman in the starting lineup.




In 1969, Harold Jackson joined the Eagles (acquired from the Rams in the Bob Brown trade) and immediately became their best player. Jackson played 4 seasons with the Eagles before returning to the Rams in the Roman Gabriel trade. He led the NFL in receiving yards in ’69 and ’72. With the addition of Jackson, Ballman moved to tight end.

All 3 starters (Jackson, Hawkins, Ballman) returned for 1970, although curiously, Ballman led the team in receptions.

With Ballman injured for much of 1971, rookie Harold Carmichael joined the starting group, as the tight end. Carmichael played for the Eagles from 1971-83, and was a starting WR in all but his first 2 seasons.

Jackson, Hawkins, and Carmichael were the top 3 receivers in 1972, although Carmichael split his time between TE and WR. Kent Kramer (an Eagle from 1971-74) was the nominal #1 tight end, although a distant 6th in receptions.

After leading the NFL in receptions and receiving yards in 1972, Jackson was traded back to the Rams. No big loss – Carmichael stepped in as the Eagles’ #1 wide receiver and led the NFL in receiving yards in 1973.

He was joined by #1 draft pick Charlie Young at TE and rookie Don Zimmerman at WR. Young was the Birds’ starting tight end for his first 4 seasons, then was traded to the Rams (see a pattern?) for QB Ron Jaworski. Replacing Hawkins in the lineup, Zimmerman was a serviceable starter for 2 seasons, and a backup for 2 more.

The Eagles used the same 3 receivers in 1974, then 2nd-year man Charlie Smith replaced Zimmerman as the #2 wide receiver in 1975. Smith was a starter from 1975-81.

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Running Backs

Here are the Eagles' 12 primary running backs from 1966 to 1975. There were quite a few others (such as 1967 #1 draft pick/bust Harry Jones), but these below are all the starters.



We start off with the tandem of Timmy Brown and Earl Gros. Brown played for the Eagles from 1960-67, and was their starting halfback from '62 to '66. Gros was the starting fullback for his 3 seasons with the Eagles (1964-66).

After backing up Brown and Gros in 1966, Izzy Lang and Tom Woodeshick took over as the starting backfield for '67 and '68. Woodeshick led the team in rushing from 1967 to 1969.

Leroy Keyes was the Eagles' #1 pick in 1969. [After an 0-12 start, the Birds won their last 2 games, thus blowing the chance to draft O.J. Simpson.] After a serviceable rookie season, Keyes had an awful 2nd year, then was moved to strong safety for his final 2 seasons with the Eagles. Leroy was 2nd in rushing behind Woodeshick in 1969.

After 2 seasons as the #3 back, Cyril Pinder led the Eagles in rushing in 1970, teaming with rookie fullback Lee Bouggess. Woodeshick and rookie Larry Watkins rounded out the top 4.




Pinder was traded away after the 1970 season, leaving Bouggess as the team's top rusher in 1971. He was joined by halfback Ron Bull, who played his final season with the Eagles after playing for the Bears from 1962-70. As in 1970, Woodeshick and Watkins were the 3rd and 4th backs.

With Bouggess lost for the season due to injury, Bull retired, and Woodeshick traded, the Eagles featured a new set of backs in 1972. Rookie Ron "Po" James led the team in rushing, with Larry Watkins sharing the fullback job with ex-Saint Tony Baker.

James' time at the top was short, with rookie Tom Sullivan taking over the starting halfback job for the next 3 seasons. Sullivan would lead the team in rushing from 1973-75. Norm Bulaich joined the team in 1973, and was the starting fullback for his 2 seasons in Philly ('73-'74). James was the #3 back for the '73 and '74 seasons.

In 1975, Sullivan had a new running mate: Art Malone was brought in from Atlanta as the fullback. Rookie James McAlister was #3 with Po James at #4.

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When Dick Vermeil was hired for the 1976 season, he cleaned house at several positions, including running back. The only holdovers from 1975 were Sullivan and McAllister. Rookies Mike Hogan and Herb Lusk were in the mix, plus newly-acquired veterans Dave Hampton and Bill Olds.


Friday, November 25, 2016

Team Photo - 1969

1969 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES


Here is the 1969 squad, the final season for these jerseys with the double-stripes around the shoulders. There are 47 players in the photo. If I recall correctly, back then teams had 40 active players, plus a 7-man taxi squad. Starters are shown with positions below in uppercase.

Back row: Sam Baker (k-p), Lane Howell (T), Norm Snead (QB), Don Hultz (de), Mel Tom (DE), Fred Brown (te), Dave Lloyd (MLB), Gary Pettigrew (dt), Mark Nordquist (g), Mike Evans ( C), Ronnie Blye (rb), Cyril Pinder (rb), coach, coach.

Row 3: Joe Moss (coach), Charlie Gauer (coach), Chuck Sieminski (dt), Jay Johnson (lb), Dave Graham (t), Joe Carollo (T), Mike Dirks (dt), Gary Ballman (TE) Jim Skaggs (G), Wade Key (t), Ron Porter (LB), Ernie Calloway (DT), Tony Guillory (LB), Bill Bradley (s), Moose Detty (trainer), Dick Stanfel (coach).

Row 2: Bob Colonna (equip mgr), Leroy Keyes (RB), Nate Ramsey (SS), Ron Medved (s), Ben Hawkins (WR), Fred Hill (te), Floyd Peters (DT), Jerry Williams (head coach), Tom Woodeshick (RB), Adrian Young (lb), Tim Rossovich (DE), Don Chuy (g), Gene Ceppetelli (c ), Dick Hart (G), Vince Fazio (team doctor).

Front row: Irv Cross (CB), George Mira (qb), Joe Scarpati (FS), Gary Adams (db), Harold Jackson (WR), Chuck Hughes (wr), Kent Lawrence (wr), Ike Kelley (mlb), Harry Jones (rb), Bill Hobbs (lb), Al Nelson (CB).

Chuck Sieminski and Gary Adams did not make the team.

Wade Key spent the season on the taxi squad.

Notice the early-career jersey numbers for Mel Tom (58), Wade Key (55), and Ernie Calloway (57).

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Kickers and Punters

This is the 2nd post in a series where I will review the 1966-75 Eagles by position. Normally I won't be listing every player during this time span, but there aren't that many kickers, so here they are.


KICKERS:

#38 Sam Baker - Baker joined the Eagles (from the Cowboys!) in 1964, and was their placekicker for the rest of the 1960s. He was also the punter through the 1968 season.

#3 Mark Moseley - The "Last of the Straight-on Kickers" was a 14th-round pick in 1970. He kicked only one year for the Eagles, partly because after the punter was lost for the season with injuries, Mark doubled up on the punting as well, and it messed him up. Regrettably, the Eagles lost patience after just 1 season, and Moseley was sent packing. He later went on to a long career with the Redskins from 1974-86.

#52 Dave Lloyd - I recall that after long-time middle linebacker Dave Lloyd lost his job to converted defensive end Tim Rossovich midway through the 1970 season, Lloyd kept himself busy for the rest of the year by kicking off (no FG or XP), thus lightening Moseley's load (after Mark was called upon to be the replacement punter).

#1 Happy Feller - The Eagles burned a 4th-round draft pick on Happy Feller in 1971. His stay was shorter than Moseley's. By mid-season the Eagles signed Tom Dempsey, and activated him for the final 5 games, replacing Feller. (I have his 1973 card as shown in the link, but can't find my 1973 binder right now.)

#19 Tom Dempsey - Dempsey previously kicked for the Saints, including a record 63-yard field goal in 1970. In a classic "What have you done for me lately?" move, the Saints cut him before the following season. The Birds picked him up during 1971, and he played the final 5 games in 1971 and every game through the end of 1974.

#16 Horst Muhlmann - The former Bengals kicker played for the Eagles for 2 1/2 seasons, beginning in 1975.


PUNTERS:

#10 King Hill - Hill joined the Eagles in 1961, and in addition to being the #2 QB through 1968, he was also the team's punter through the 1963 season. With the arrival of Sam Baker in 1964, they shared the punting chores for 3 seasons, roughly 65/35 in favor of Baker.

#38 Sam Baker - Baker shared the punting chores with Hill from 1964-66, and was the only punter from 1967-68. He relinquished the punting to rookie Bill Bradley in 1969.

#32 Rick Duncan - Duncan (pictured here on Adrian Young's 1971 card) punted in 1 game in 1968. He was also in Eagles' camp in 1971, but did not make the team.

#28 Bill Bradley - "Super Bill" was the team's free safety and punt returner from 1969-75. He was also the punter in '69, '70, '72, and for 4 games in '73.

#36, #12 Tom McNeill - McNeill was the team's punter in '71 and '73, and for 2 games in 1972. (In summary, Bradley and/or McNeill handled the punting from 1969-73, with some punting by Moseley late in 1970.)

#37 Merritt Kersey - Kersey assumed the punting job for 1974 and 2 games in 1975. It was his only NFL experience.

#6 Spike Jones - Jones took over the punting in game #3 in 1975, and stuck around through the 1977 season.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

1974 Pre-Season Roster

I found this tri-fold pre-season roster in the same folder as the Prudential Guides posted earlier. (The other 3 panels were additional info about the players (weight, college, years pro), and the back cover.


                                                               SIX quarterbacks!

 
           Several players in the 60s and 70s wore the same number (1 green, 1 white).

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Jersey and Helmet Styles

Here are the various styles of jerseys and helmets used by the Eagles during this blog's time period.

 Jerseys:

For most of the 1960s, the Eagles wore a plain green jersey, with small numbers on the sleeves.


At some point prior to 1966, narrow and wide stripes were added to the sleeves.


From 1966 to 1969, the jerseys had double striping around the shoulders. Topps showed this jersey as late as 1973 on some cards.


In 1970 the team went back to the early-1960s look. Just solid green, with no striping.


In 1972 they added a black outline to the numbers.


A major change occurred in 1974, adding lots of stripes to the sleeves and moving the numbers up on top of the shoulders. As time went on, these jerseys became see-through.


 Helmets: The Eagles wore green helmets with silver wings prior to the 1969 season.


For 1969 home games, and all games in 1970 to 1973, they wore white helmets with green wings. The colors were reversed for away games in 1969 - green helmets with white wings.


They went back to green helmets in 1974, this time with two-tone wings.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

1960s' NFL Pamphlets

I found these in a box in my house recently. These are 34-page football guides measuring 4" x 8", issued by the Prudential Insurance Company in 1966 and 1967, which I got in those years.

The 1966 issue pre-dates any football cards I collected, making it the first football-related item I acquired. I don't remember where I got them, maybe they were distributed to us at a Cub Scout meeting.

The inside contains a 1-page pre-season scouting report (including partial roster) for each team. The first few pages features then-Eagles' tight end Pete Retzlaff demonstrating all the exercises included in the "President's Council for Physical Fitness Program", so that we young lads could grow up big and strong.

 I have only shown the covers and the Eagles' pages.

The 1966 edition contains only the 15 NFL teams at the time (no Saints). Without the AFL teams, there are more pages devoted to the exercises, as well as the NFL schedule.


The 1967 edition includes NFL and AFL teams (except for the yet-to-be-formed Bengals), so the exercises section is abbreviated, and there is no schedule section.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Quarterbacks

This is the first post in a series where I will review the 1966-75 Eagles by position. I'm starting off with the quarterbacks, because (as Warren Beatty says in the movie "Heaven Can Wait"), "Well, I AM the quarterback". Normally I won't be listing every player during this time span, but I am for the QBs because there are so few of them.


#16 Norm Snead – After the 1963 season, the Eagles traded popular QB Sonny Jurgensen to the Redskins for Norm Snead. Even to this day the trade makes no sense. Sonny made the Pro Bowl in 1961 (his 4th season, but 1st as a full-time starter), and led the NFL in passing yardage in ’61 and ’62. Sonny made 4 more Pro Bowls during his time with the Redskins, and led the NFL in completions and passing yards 3 times. He played for Washington through the 1974 season.

Meanwhile, Snead (a 2-time Pro-Bowler in his 3 seasons with the ‘Skins) made 1 Pro Bowl with the Eagles, but threw 20+ interceptions 4 times, leading the NFL in that category twice. He also became the focus of the fans’ dissatisfaction, and as I recall, was run out of town on a rail after the 1970 season.


#10 King HillAs kids, we thought “King Hill” was a funny name for someone. After 3 seasons with the Cardinals, this #1 overall pick in the 1958 draft was acquired by the Eagles, and was their backup QB from 1961 until he was traded midway through the 1968 season. Hill only started more than 4 games once (6 in 1963), and was used primarily as the punter for his first 3 seasons in Philly.


#3 Jack Concannon – Jack was the #1 overall pick in the 1964 AFL draft, but he chose to sign with the Eagles, who drafted him in the 2nd round. He played sparingly in his 3 seasons with the Eagles, and was traded to the Bears before the 1967 season for veteran tight end Mike Ditka.


#4 Benjy Dial – Dial attempted 3 passes in 1 game in 1967 as the #3 QB. It was his only NFL experience.


#7 John Huarte – Huarte was the Birds’ #3 quarterback in 1968, and played in 2 games (starting 1) in his only season with the Eagles.


#10 George Mira – With Hill and Huarte both gone by 1969, the Eagles acquired ex-49ers backup George Mira to back up Snead. George started 1 game, and his 32% completion percentage showed why he was a backup.


#11 Rick Arrington – Rick was a free-agent rookie in 1970, and was with the Eagles for 3 seasons. He started 1 game in ’70 and 4 games in ’71. He made no starts in ’72, having dropped to #3 on the depth chart behind Pete Liske and rookie John Reaves. I recall there was some talk in 1972 of converting him to a tight end, but that never materialized.


#14 Pete Liske – After Snead was sent packing, the Eagles thought they had their next starting QB in Lions’ taxi-squadder Greg Barton. Barton’s NFL resume up to that time (and to this day!) was 1 attempt and 0 completions in a game in 1969. Way to set the bar high, Eagles! No matter, after the Eagles had traded for his rights, Barton shunned the idea of starting for the Eagles and went off to play in the CFL.

Plan B was a hastily-arranged trade with the Broncos to get Pete Liske. Pete had started 9 games for Denver in the previous season, but the Broncos were going with ex-Packer Don Horn and draft pick Steve Ramsey. Liske played 2 seasons in Philly – starting 10 games in ’71 and 7 games in ’72. He then returned to the Canadian League, where he had played from 1965-68.


#6, 7 John Reaves – The Eagles made Reaves their #1 pick in 1972, and he started half the games for them, all losses. He hung on for 2 more seasons as Roman Gabriel’s backup.


#5 Roman Gabriel – Enough of the Pete Liske/John Reaves show!!! In June 1973 the Eagles made a bold move and traded All-Pro wide receiver Harold Jackson, running back Tony Baker, two #1 picks, and a #3 pick to the Rams for 11-year veteran and 3-time Pro-Bowler Roman Gabriel.

Gabe brought competence to the team’s QB department, something they lacked since 1963. Roman made the Pro-Bowl team again, and sparked the Eagles’ improvement from 2-11-1 to 5-8-1. He started every game, and led the NFL in passing yards (3219) and TDs (23). Gabriel rained 6 TD passes down on rookie TE Charlie Young, and 9 to WR Harold Carmichael, who had replaced Jackson in the starting lineup. Roman was the starter for three seasons, and the #2 man for another two.


#10 Mike Boryla – Rookie Mike Boryla was the team’s #2 QB in 1974 (with Reaves at #3) and also in 1975. He started 3 and 5 games in his first two seasons. In 1976 (Dick Vermeil’s 1st season) Boryla started the first 10 games, with Gabriel starting the final 4 games. In 1977 the Eagles acquired Ron Jaworski and Boryla was let go.


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Eagles Through the Years

Let's start with an overview of the Eagles for this time period. (Buckle up, it isn't going to be pretty!)
Well, at least we are starting off on a high note. At 9-5, 1966 was their last winning season until 1978.

 
Even the addition of the expansion Falcons (1966) and Saints (1967) didn't help the Eagles. The botching of the "O.J. Simpson sweepstakes" in 1968 was the low-light of that season.  The Eagles started off going 0-11, then won 2 of their last 3 games, losing the #1 overall draft pick (Simpson).


 
There were some bright spots here and there (QB Roman Gabriel, WR Harold Jackson, S Bill Bradley), but there were too many not-so-bright spots (Norm Snead, Leroy Keyes, etc.)

Introduction

Welcome to my new Philadelphia Eagles blog! I'm going to take a walk through the lean years prior to the dramatic turnaround that started in 1976 with the arrival of coach Dick Vermeil, culminating in their 1980 Super Bowl appearance.

I started watching Eagles' football (and football in general) in 1970. Oddly enough, I began collecting football cards in 1967 (almost by accident - I was looking for late-summer baseball cards at a new store, and found football cards instead), but didn't pay any attention to the teams or games until 1970. 

So my Eagles' knowledge is strongest in the 1970-75 period, but I have some peripheral interest in the earlier years because of my card collection, and will be adding to that knowledge as I do research for this blog.

I will also mention that even though I didn't see any Super Bowls until SB V (Colts vs. Cowboys), I had watched those ESPN SB highlight shows that they ran every year leading up to the Super Bowl so many times that I can probably recite the starting SB lineups for the Packers, Chiefs, Raiders, Cowboys, Dolphins, etc.  In fact, a few years ago I bought the DVD box set of the first 10 Super Bowls.

My plan is to have posts about a specific year, individual player profiles, analysis of players at each position over the decade, and other trivia tidbits as I find them. Oh, it will also be an excuse to post my Eagles' cards as well.