Monday, June 28, 2021

RIP - Tuufuli Uperesa

Tuufuli Uperesa, who played briefly for the Eagles in 1971, passed away on June 21, 2021 at age 73. He was born in American Samoa in 1948, and died there as well. 

 
Uperesa, an offensive lineman, was the Eagles' 16th-round pick in 1970. After a season on the taxi squad, he played 2 games as a backup tackle in 1971.  He also played for 4 teams in the CFL from 1973-77. 
 
 
I remember seeing Uperesa listed in the Eagles' 1971 yearbook. It was a small, TV Guide-sized booklet that I bought (or got for free) at the Merit gas station on City Line Avenue in the Overbrook section of Philadelphia just before the 1971 season.
 
Unfortunately, I can't find it now. I last saw it in November 2011 when I scanned a few pages for this Eagles' blog post, but I've moved a few times since then and I don't know where it is. I have the 1972 and 1973 yearbooks, full-sized magazines titled "Eagle One" and "Eagle Two", but the 1971 yearbook is not with them. 
 
 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Harold Carmichael - WR

As we leave the 1960s-era Eagles behind, let's take a look at the key Eagles from the 1970s, starting with Harold Carmichael.
Harold was the Eagles' 7th-round pick in 1971. Yes, SEVENTH! The Birds wasted their first 6 picks on DE Richard Harris, G Henry Allison, K Happy Feller (who drafts a kicker that high?) and 3 other guys who didn't even play, before selecting Carmichael. It's no wonder the team sucked so bad in the early-1970s. 
 
Carmichael played for the Eagles for 13 years, and was a starting wide receiver in all but his first 2 seasons. He started 6 games as a rookie, but it was as a tight end, filling in for the injured Gary Ballman. He also started 2 games in 1972. 
 
Why all the time on the bench? The Birds already had Harold Jackson and Ben Hawkins as wideouts. Jackson led the NFL in receiving yards in his first (1969) and last (1972) seasons with the Eagles. He also led in receptions in '72. 
 
After the 1972 season, Jackson was traded to the Rams for quarterback Roman Gabriel. Did they miss the league's top WR? No! Carmichael took Jackson's place, not only in the Eagles' lineup, but as the NFL's leader in catches and receiving yards! 
 
Carmichael made the Pro Bowl 4 times (1973, 1978-80), and started all but one game from 1973 to 1981. He missed 7 games 1982, but returned for 15 games in '83, his final season in Philly. 
 
He finished his career with 2 games for the Cowboys in 1984. 
 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

RIP - Leroy Keyes

Leroy Keyes, the Eagles' 1st-round pick in 1969, passed away on April 15, 2021 at age 74.

Keyes finished 3rd and 2nd in the Heisman voting in his final 2 seasons at Purdue, then for the Eagles he played halfback for 2 seasons, and strong safety for 2 more before being dealt to the Chiefs.  
 
 
 

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

RIP - Irv Cross

Irv Cross, a cornerback for the Eagles and Rams in the 1960s, passed away on February 28, 2021 at age 81.
Cross was drafted by the Eagles in 1961, and became the starting right cornerback midway through his rookie year after Tom Brookshier suffered a career-ending broken leg. 
 
Irv was a starting corner through the 1965 season, then was traded to the Rams. He played 3 seasons with the Rams, then returned to the Eagles for his final NFL season (1969) in the deal that sent Bob Brown to LA. 
 
After coaching for the Eagles in 1970, Cross became a broadcaster, first locally in Philadelphia, then joining the CBS team in 1971 where he remained for 21 years. 
  
 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

RIP - Cyril Pinder

We just discussed Cyril Pinder on this blog 4 posts ago, but now I learned he passed away on January 23, 2021 at age 74.
The Eagles may not have been a very good team from 1966-75, but they had no shortage of colorful player names on the roster: King Hill, Izzy Lang, Floyd Peters, Joe Lavender, and Cyril Pinder, among others. 
 
Pinder was drafted by the Eagles in 1968, to replace the departed Timmy Brown. After sharing the load with Lang and Leroy Keyes for 2 seasons, Cyril was the team's leading rusher in 1970. He brought that tidbit to the bargaining table before the following season, and was promptly given a ticket to Chicago. 
 
He played for the Bears and Cowboys from 1971-73, as well as Chicago's WFL team in 1974-75 before retiring.  
 

Monday, January 18, 2021

John Meyers - DT

John Meyers was the Eagles' starting right defensive tackle from 1964-67. He played in all 56 games during that time, starting all but three. 
 
He was the Rams' 3rd-round pick in 1962, but played the '62 and '63 seasons for the Cowboys, playing every game those 2 seasons at right D tackle. He started every game as a rookie, and 7 in 1963. 
 
After the 1963 season, he was traded to the Eagles along with kicker Sam Baker and guard Lynn Hoyem for flanker Tommy McDonald. 
 
Meyers was released during training camp in 1968, and replaced in the lineup by 2nd-year man Gary Pettigrew, who had been the starting right end as a rookie. Still, it seems odd that he was released outright, given that he was a 4-year starter, and only age 28. The team chose to go with rookie Mike Dirks and the unproven Frank Molden (who had missed the previous 2 seasons, and started no games as a rookie in 1965) as the backups at defensive tackle.
There were no cards issued by Topps or Philly Gum for John Meyers. This is a custom card created by RetroCards, in the 1962 Fleer style. (It's out of focus because I enlarged a thumbnail.)
 
 
Where's Waldo John?

That wraps up the player reviews for those whose Eagles' career started in the 1960s (or 1950s, for Pete Retzlaff). Next we will look at the players who began their Eagles' career in the 1970s, in order of most games as an Eagle. (Harold Carmichael will lead off the list.) 

 
But first, a re-cap of the players reviewed so far:
There are 52 players here. If I was going to have an Eagles' fantasy team for the 1966-69 period, this one is fairly solid. There are a few stars here and there, and most positions have above-average players. The middle linebacking looks a little thin, but Rossovich could also play there. Honestly, the quarterback, outside linebacker, and guard positions could use an upgrade, but these are the Eagles we have to work with for that time period.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Alvin Haymond - CB

Alvin Haymond played for the Eagles just for one season (1968), as their starting right cornerback. 
 
Haymond was drafted by the Colts in 1964, and was their top kickoff and punt returner for his 4 seasons in Baltimore. In '65 and '66 he led the NFL in punt returns and return yardage. He was only a regular starter for one season (free safety in 1966). 
 
Before the 1968 season he was traded to the Eagles for halfback Timmy Brown. He played 11 of 14 games for the Birds (starting 9 games), and was also their primary return man. 
 
After one season he moved on to the Rams (in one of 4 Eagles/Rams trades that off-season). 
 
He played 3 seasons for the Rams and one each for the Redskins and Oilers, but only started 1 game in those 5 seasons. However, he continued to be a top-notch return artist, leading the NFL in punt return yardage in 1969 and kick return yardage in 1970.
Haymond was already a Los Angeles Ram when this 1969 card was issued.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Jack Concannon - QB

Jack Concannon played for Boston College, and was the #1 overall pick in the 1964 AFL draft by the Boston Patriots. He was also the Eagles' #2 draft pick in the 1964 NFL draft. He chose to sign with the Eagles. 

Jack played sparingly in his 3 seasons with Philadelphia. He only played in 7 games (1 start) in his first 2 seasons. In 1966 he played in 11 games, but only had 2 starts. Not a very good showing for such a high draft pick, when your only competition is the under-achieving Norm Snead and journeyman backup King Hill. (Although Hill was also a first-overall draft pick - for the Cardinals in 1958.) 

Just before the 1967 season, the Bears' owner/head coach George Halas was looking to unload tight end Mike Ditka, who had become a thorn in his side.  Ditka was dealt to the Eagles, who offered the Bears their pick of any of their 3 quarterbacks. The Bears chose third-stringer Concannon over the other two n'er-do-wells. 

Concannon played for the Bears for 5 seasons, starting most of the games in '67 and '70, and a handful in '68 and '69. A broken collarbone curtailed his 1968 season, and he lost the starting job to Bobby Douglass in 1969. 

He started the first 3 games in 1971 then suffered a knee injury, which ended his stint as the Bears' starting QB. 

Jack spent the 1972 and 1973 seasons on the Cowboys' taxi squad, then made 2 starts for the Packers in 1974 as their 3rd-string QB behind John Hadl and Jerry Tagge. 

In late-October 1975, the Lions lost both Greg Landry and Bill Munson in the same game. The Lions signed Concannon to back up 3rd-string QB Joe Reed for the remainder of the season. He played in 7 games (no starts). 

Concannon passed away in 2005 at age 62. 

 Concannon only had one card as an Eagle (1965), but his 1968 card shows him in an Eagles' jersey.

 
Where's Waldo Jack?

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Cyril Pinder - RB

Cyril Pinder was the Eagles' 2nd-round pick in the 1968 draft. He played in every game in his 3 seasons with the Birds (1968-70), starting 5, 4, and 8 games as he alternated with halfbacks Izzy Lang ('68) and Leroy Keyes ('69), and fullback Tom Woodeshick ('70). 

In 1970 he led the Eagles in rushing with 657 yards, but was traded to the Bears for 2 draft picks during training camp in 1971 because of contract squabbles. The Bears needed some insurance against Gale Sayers' ailing knees. (Ironically, the Eagles replaced him with Ronnie Bull, acquired from the Bears in the same off-season.) 

Pinder played for the Bears for 2 seasons (starting 10 games), then was released in mid-September 1973. Weeks later the Cowboys picked him up and he provided backfield depth through the end of the season. 

Cyril joined the WFL's Chicago team in 1974 and rushed for 925 yards. He was on the team in 1975, until it folded after 5 games.

This 1971 card in Pinder's only Topps card. By this time he was already with the Bears. 

 

Where's Waldo Cyril?

Thursday, July 2, 2020

"Di'ka!"

Mike Ditka played tight end for 12 seasons (1961-72) in the NFL. Iron Mike revolutionized the position.

He was the Bears' #1 pick in the 1961 draft, and played his first 6 seasons with Chicago, starting every game. He made the Pro Bowl in his first 5 seasons, and was Rookie of the Year in 1961. Frequent clashes with owner/head coach George Halas got him traded to the Eagles before the 1967 season for quarterback Jack Concannon.

In 1967 Ditka played 9 games (starting 6), but missed the last 5 weeks of the season while injured. In 1968 he played in 11 games, but only started 6. He was injured for a time, but was also suspended in November for criticizing his coach.

After the 1968 season he was traded to the Cowboys for a bag of beans. For 2 seasons, he played behind 6-year starter Pettis Norman, then behind Billy Truax in 1971.

Ditka started every game during the 1972 season, his last before retiring. He played in 9 post-season games with the Cowboys, including 2 Super Bowls.

Mike was an assistant coach for the Cowboys from 1973-81, the Bears' head coach from 1982-92, and the Saints' head coach from 1997-99.

Ditka was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988, the first tight end to be so honored.

With #89 already taken in Philadelphia, Ditka chose to flip the digits.


Here are his 2 cards while a member of the Eagles.