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.)


  1. Hey! Tim Rossovich played Detective Noodles in the Cheech & Chong movie "Nice Dreams"!

  2. I read somewhere recently that he was buddies with Tom Selleck in college, and appeared on Magnum P.I.