The NFL has changed in many ways over the years, but the biggest change has been in its biggest people, who have gotten bigger and bigger.
Is bigger better? Apparently the NFL thinks so, and that includes the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles added a couple more hefty offensive linemen to their roster this season when they signed Stacey Andrews (342 pounds) and traded for Jason Peters (340 pounds). They join an o-line that already had plenty of poundage and now the Eagles have one of the biggest lines in the league.
It’s not just the Eagles, of course. What used to be an exception is now the rule—to be an offensive lineman in the NFL you have to weigh at least 300 pounds and you probably have to be a good bit over that.
In the past, if a lineman weighed that much he was just a big, fat guy who could barely get out of his three-point stance. Now, with a combination of year-round conditioning and training, not to mention genetics, 300-pounders are agile athletes who run as fast as linebackers did a generation ago.
How much has it changed? Well, consider the Eagles’ offensive line from their Super Bowl team of 1980. The Eagles had a terrific line back then that included two All-Pro tackles, Jerry Sisemore and Stan Walters, as well as a center, Guy Morriss, who was a Pro Bowl alternate a couple of times. That line weighed a total of 1,308 pounds, or about 262 pounds per man.
Now put the 2009 Eagles’ o-line on the scale—they weigh a total of 1,668 pounds, or about 334 pounds per man. That’s a difference of 72 pounds per man, and that’s a big difference in more ways than one.
Here’s another way (weigh?) of looking at it: The heaviest man on the 1980 Eagles, tackle Stan Walters, was 275 pounds, which is 46 pounds less than the lightest lineman on the 2009 team, guard Todd Herremans (321 pounds).
The movement to bigger blockers began during the 1980s, when the Washington Redskins’ offensive line—known as the Hogs—started to dominate the game. All NFL teams started to look for bigger linemen, including the Eagles, who did have two 300-pounders on their roster in the 1980s, a couple of journeymen reserves named Frank Giddens and Tom Jelesky, both of whom lasted just two seasons with the team.
The first 300-pound offensive lineman drafted by the Eagles was Antone Davis of Tennessee, a 325-pound tackle whom coach Rich Kotite selected after sending two first-round picks to Green Bay to move up to the eighth overall spot in 1991.
Davis was a bust, considering what the Eagles gave up for him, but he did lead the 300-pound parade. The next year, Kotite added two more big guys (drafting 307-pound William Boatwright and signing 310-pound free agent Eric Floyd) and that’s been the trend ever since.
Here’s a comparison between the Eagles offensive lines of 1980 and 2009:
Left tackle: Stan Walters (275) Jason Peters (340)
Left guard: Petey Perot (261) Todd Herremans (321)
Center: Guy Morriss (255) Jamaal Jackson (330)
Right guard: Woody Peoples (252) Stacy Andrews (342)
Right tackle: Jerry Sisemore (265) Shawn Andrews (335)