Ranking the Top 10 Fan Favorites in Philadelphia Eagles Franchise History
Throughout the Philadelphia Eagles’ franchise history, there have been a number of players who’ve donned green and made us fans extremely proud.
While other players like Terrell Owens have enjoyed tremendous success, they’ve also proved to be nothing more than a distraction and team cancer.
However, this is more about the good than the bad.
So with that being said, let’s see why and how this group of 10 has set themselves apart from the rest.
10. Tommy McDonald
Although Tommy McDonald only spent seven years of his 12-year career in Philadelphia, he is still beloved amongst Eagles fans.
As a third-round pick out of Oklahoma, this wide receiver was one of the premier deep threats of his time.
During the 1961 season, McDonald led the league in receiving with 1,144 yards and 13 touchdowns, despite being limited to a 14-game schedule.
McDonald is best known for his contributions to the 1960 championship team—a year which he accounted for 13 of the team’s 29 total touchdowns.
During his stint with the Birds, the big-play wideout earned All-NFL First Team honors in 1960 and 1961. He also made five Pro Bowls.
McDonald finished second in franchise history with 66 touchdown receptions despite playing in only 88 games. His 19.2 yards per catch ranks as tops in Eagles franchise history and earned him the distinction of being on the Eagles Honor Roll.
9. Wes Hopkins
Wes Hopkins was a second-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1983 NFL Draft.
He started 14 games at safety during his rookie season and played a huge role in Philly’s vaunted “Gang Green” defense.
Along with fellow safety Andre Waters, who also earned consideration for this list, the duo combined to form one of the most intimidating and devastating safety tandems in NFL history.
Hopkins finished his 10-year career right where he started it. He earned one trip to the Pro Bowl in 1985 and also the Ed Block Courage Award in 1988.
The former Southern Methodist product played in 137 games and recorded a total of 30 interceptions, 12 sacks and a single touchdown for the Eagles.
8. Donovan McNabb
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After entering the league as a highly criticized draft pick, McNabb managed to put together a successful and productive 11-year career with the Philadelphia Eagles.
McNabb left the franchise as the all-time leader in career wins, pass attempts, pass completions, passing yards and passing touchdowns.
His contagious personality made him the face of the franchise for over a decade and earned himself a role in Campbell’s Soup commercials.
His winning attitude off the field also translated to victories on it.
While in his prime, McNabb was in the class of elite quarterbacks.
He led the Eagles to four consecutive divisional crowns (2001-2004), five NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl appearance.
Philadelphia fans will probably remember McNabb as one that could never deliver a ring, but his accomplishments should not be viewed as shortcomings.
7. Steve Van Buren
As one of the fastest and strongest running backs of his time, Steve Van Buren led the NFL in rushing for four of the eight seasons he played—including three consecutive years between 1947-1949.
He was an All-Pro selection for the first seven years of his career and helped the Philadelphia Eagles win back-to-back league titles in 1948 and 1949.
The Eagles held a record of 58-30-3 during Van Buren’s time in Philadelphia.
Although his career ended prematurely due to a knee injury, Van Buren is still tops in Eagles history with 69 rushing touchdowns and is third in franchise history with 5,860 rush yards.
The Hall of Famer is also a member of the Eagles Honor Roll, the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, the NFL 1940s All-Decade Team and has his jersey retired at Lincoln Financial Field.
6. Chuck Bednarik
Chuck Bednarik was the first overall selection of the 1949 draft and was known to be the last true two-way player in the NFL.
Aside from playing center, Bednarik also starred at linebacker as well. His double duty earned him the distinction as one of the NFL’s “60 Minute Men”—an honor designed to acknowledge those who played both offense and defense on a regular basis.
Since Bednarik is a Bethlehem, Pennsylvania native, his homegrown roots make him Philadelphia’s very own. Not only was he raised in the region of Lehigh, but he also attended the University of Pennsylvania as well.
During his 14-year career with the Philadelphia Eagles, Bednarik was selected to the Pro Bowl eight times and earned 10 All-Pro honors. He was also chosen as a member of the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, the NFL 1950s All-Decade Team and the Philadelphia Eagles Honor Roll.
His No. 60 is one of the few numbers the Eagles have retired.
5. Brian Westbrook
For the younger generation of football fans that missed out on Barry Sanders, we have Brian Westbrook.
For those who don’t remember, Westbrook was the ultimate make-you-miss expert that could do it all.
He could run in between the tackles, catch screens on the outside, motion out as a wide receiver and return punts while being extremely efficient in pass-protection.
As a third-round pick from nearby Villanova, Westbrook played his entire career with a chip on his shoulder and a connection to Philly.
Even though injuries ended his tenure as an Eagle, his accomplishments still earned him a spot on the team’s 75th Anniversary Team.
While the emergence of LeSean McCoy has eased the loss of Westbrook, his place in Eagles lore should not be compromised.
4. Randall Cunningham
It was a rough beginning for a quarterback that began his career by throwing one touchdown and eight interceptions. However, Randall Cunningham was able to run away with the hearts of fans by using his feet.
Thanks to his unrivaled ability to escape pressure, Cunningham was deemed the “Ultimate Weapon” and paved the way for other mobile signal-callers like Michael Vick and Cam Newton.
His dual-threat presence introduced a new dynamic to the art of quarterbacking and the NFL.
Cunningham’s big arm and scrambling ability made him a threat to score at any given moment and kept defenses on their heels.
The former UNLV star has provided the Philly Faithful with a variety of highlights that include 91-yard punts, end-zone-to-end-zone touchdown completions and countless breathtaking dives for six.
3. Jon Runyan
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When Jon Runyan signed a six-year, $30 million contract in 2000, it made him the highest paid offensive lineman of his time.
Although he came with this distinction, Runyan still played his heart out for the Philadelphia Eagles by never missing a game.
His constant presence helped stabilize an offensive line that was adjusting to Donovan McNabb as a second-year quarterback.
Runyan won over the Philadelphia fan base as a blue-collar player who always played through the pain and took no possession lightly.
Sometimes his efforts and iron-man mentality were viewed as dirty play. However, one could argue it as smarts and savvy.
His battles with New York Giants defensive lineman Michael Strahan remain as an NFL Classic and a beautiful battle to watch.
As a player that made his living by doing the dirty work in the trenches, it would be an absolute shame for me to exclude him from this list.
2. Reggie White
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The man voted by ESPN Sportsnation as the greatest player in Philadelphia Eagles franchise history finds himself at No. 2 on this list.
After the United States Football League disbanded, Reggie White was drafted in the first round of the NFL Supplemental Draft.
During his eight-year tenure in Philadelphia, White collected an astounding 124 sacks and became the team’s all-time sack leader.
In 1987, White recorded 21 regular-season sacks in only 12 games. This number remains as a franchise single-season record and the highest average for sacks per game (1.75).
After he signed with the Green Bay Packers as a free agent in 1993, the Minister of Defense had left the Eagles organization with more sacks than games played.
White was so universally loved that he became the first player in NFL history to have his jersey number retired by multiple franchises.
1. Brian Dawkins
Brian Dawkins is still Weapon X
I have never seen a professional athlete who was more in touch with his team, city and community than Brian Dawkins.
And while he played the final three seasons of his 16-year career in Denver, the Wolverine will be forever remembered as a Philadelphia Eagle.
Ever since his rookie season, the City of Brotherly Love has embraced the hard-hitting safety that wore his heart of his sleeve. Fans fell in love his intensity, leadership and passion.
Dawkins was a mainstay in the Eagles secondary for 13 years and earned seven trips to the Pro Bowl while wearing green. He was voted to the franchise’s 75th Anniversary Team and is a member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team.
Not only did he give the Eagles 898 tackles, 21 sacks, 33 forced fumbles and 34 interceptions, but was also a consummate professional off the field as well.
Dawkins’ philanthropy work includes but is not limited to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, where he acted as a regional spokesman and the Burn Prevention Foundation. The Clemson product has also been known to host annual golf tournaments to raise awareness and money for the causes he fights.
For any fan who has ever watched Dawkins play, it should come as no surprise to hear that the man tackles every endeavor with aggression and pride.
Dawkins’ retirement means the NFL will enter the 2012 season with one less leader and one less humanitarian representing its’ brand.