I can remember poring over Eagles' rosters in the late 1960s and seeing one player (Hart) listed as "No College".
"What???? How can this be? How can some Joe walk off the street directly into a starting NFL job, having no previous pro or college experience? Were the Eagles' offensive line options that bleak?"
Between their 1st-round selection of Bob Brown in 1964, and taking Jerry Sisemore and Guy Morriss with 1st and 2nd round picks in 1973, the Eagles' success at drafting offensive linemen was suspect:
1965 - Ray Rissmiller (T) - #2 pick was lost to the Saints in the 1967 expansion draft.
1966 - Randy Beisler (G) - #1 pick was a part-time player for 3 years, then traded to the 49ers.
1967 - John Brooks (G) - taken in 2nd round, then cut; no NFL playing time.
1968 - 4th-round guard Len McNeil cut; G Mark Nordquist (#5) and C Mike Evans (#9) played a few years with the Eagles.
1969 - Bob Kuechenberg (G) was taken in the 4th round, then cut during training camp. He went on to a 14-year career with the Dolphins, including SIX Pro Bowls.
1969 - Wade Key was a 13th-round pick who played for the Eagles through 1979.
1970 - Ira Gordon was a guard taken in the 8th round. He was cut that summer, and played for the Chargers for 6 seasons.
1971 - Henry Allison was a 2nd-round guard who lasted only 2 seasons.
1972 - 2nd-round tackle Dan Yochum didn't make it past his first training camp.
1972 - Guards Tom Luken (3rd) and Vern Winfield (6th) were serviceable at best.
So anyway, after spending 1966 on the Eagles' taxi squad, Hart joined the starting lineup at left guard as a 24-year-old rookie in 1967, replacing the retired Ed Blaine. He played for 4 seasons, then lost the 1971 season due to a knee injury. Traded to Buffalo, he played briefly with the Bills in 1972 until another knee injury sidelined him again.
I recently learned he also played in the WFL in 1974. Also, I learned that he wasn't just your average Joe off the street in 1967. Hart (who was on the 1955 Little League World Championship baseball team) had played minor-league baseball for the Braves from 1961-65 before switching to football.
Manning the left guard spot as a rookie in 1967:
With the WFL Charlotte Stars in 1974:
Hart was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.
Another blog post about Hart's high school baseball and track exploits, as well as minor-league baseball and pro football careers.