Philadelphia Eagles: The 10 Players Who Should Have Never Left Town
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All too often Donovan McNabb's season ended painfully in the NFC Championship and all too often there was debate about how great he was.
Now that he is gone a new debate will unfold between those who still pledge allegiance to McNabb and those who despise him: Should the Eagles have let him leave town?
Only time will tell and truth be told, there will probably never be a clear-cut answer, which is only fitting.
McNabb holds franchise records for quarterbacks in wins, games played, completions, completion percentage (for a quarterback who played at least 30 games), attempts, yards, touchdowns, and interception percentage (for a quarterback who played at least 30 games).
He also holds a 1-5 record in NFC Championships and the Super Bowl.
It really is mind blowing how much he did for the franchise and how much he divided the fanbase. But in the end, there is nothing the fans can do.
McNabb is with divisional rival Washington and the future of the franchise in Kevin Kolb's hands.
By the end of the year, McNabb may be No.1 on this list or he may never crack the top-10. Trying to figure out his place on the list would be an educated guess.
Until McNabb's career ends and the fans see what Kolb has to offer let's turn our attention to the 10 players that were traded or lost due to free agency only to come back to haunt the franchise. There are two players who don't fit the mold of the criteria completely, but you will see what I mean when you get to them.
No.10: Keith Jackson
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Keith Jackson was a First-Team All Pro and Pro Bowler in each of his first three seasons. In his fourth season he missed both honors and then parted ways with Philadelphia.
Jackson left for Miami where he earned one trip to the Pro Bowl and then capped off his career with the Green Bay Packers in 1996 where he earned his fifth trip to Hawaii and even more importantly won a Super Bowl.
The nine-year veteran out of Oklahoma University was not tall compared to today's tight ends as he only stood at 6'2". But he was a reliable target with decent speed who helped Randall Cunningham progress as a quarterback.
It wasn't much of a coincidence that Cunningham and Jackson were both named to the Pro Bowl from 1988-'90. And when Jackson left town Cunningham never earned that distinction in Philadelphia again.
Even more alarming is the fact that after Jackson left Philadelphia in 1991, the Eagles never sent a tight end to the Pro Bowl until Chad Lewis in 2000.
No.9: Ricky Watters
It would have been great to see him in the backfield with McNabb
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Most fans don't realize that Ricky Watters led the franchise in rushing yards per game with 79.
The number doesn't sound spectacular, but when you consider that Brian Westbrook rushed for only 56 yards per contest and Wilbert Montgomery rushed for only 65.4 yards you begin to understand how good Watters was in his three years with the Eagles.
Not only did Watters run the ball effectively, but he was also an incredible threat out of the backfield as he caught 161 passes.
He also scored 32 touchdowns and never missed a game before the Eagles decided to part ways with misunderstood running back following the 1997 season when Watters was only 28 years old.
When he went to Seattle in 1998 he rushed for 1,239, 1,210, and 1,242 yards before seeing his career come to an end in his fourth and final season after only playing five games.
During that time the Eagles were led in rushing by Duce Staley in 1998 and '99 with 1,065, and 1,273 yards. In 2000, Donovan McNabb led the team in rushing with 629 yards.
It would have been fun to see Watters, and Staley in the backfield with McNabb under center.
Who knows? Maybe Watters would have extended his career playing here with Staley and maybe McNabb would have won a Super Bowl with that combo.
Despite not knowing how good it could have been, there is no denying the fact that the Eagles should have never let Watters leave town.
No.8: Jeremiah Trotter
Probably just knocked the snot out of someone
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Jeremiah Trotter is the only player on this list who left and eventually came back.
And in all honesty, the move was great for both parties.
Trotter emerged as the Eagles' starting middle linebacker in 1999 and then made the Pro Bowl roster in 2000 and 2001 before heading to Washington in 2002.
Trot wanted the big bucks, and the Eagles did not see the value in paying a middle linebacker top dollar. It's a shame the two sides didn't see eye-to-eye on this one because in 2002 and 2003 Trotter was awful in Washington and was seen a a free-lancing linebacker that benefited from Jim Johnson's defensive game plans.
Back in Philly the Eagles plugged in Levon Kirkland in 2002 and then Mark Simoneau in 2003. Both players went on to have notorious moments in NFC Championship games.
Kirkland's large backside was seen huffing and puffing as he tried to tried to track down Joe Jurevicius in the 2002 NFC Championship game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The following year Simoneau got run over by Carolina Panther running back DeShaun Foster in another NFC Championship defeat.
In 2004 Trot came back to Philly, the organization welcomed him with open arms, and the Eagles went to the Super Bowl.
It really makes you wonder what could have been if Trotter never left.
No.7: Bob Brown
It took 11 years to find another Pro Bowl right tackle
Bob Brown was drafted out of Nebraska as the second overall pick by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1964 NFL Draft.
He earned All Pro and Pro Bowl honors in three of his first five years and then demanded a trade in 1969 when his former teammate Pete Retzlaff was named GM by the Eagles. Brown went on to play two years with the Los Angeles Rams, and three years with the Oakland Raiders.
To put Brown's three Pro Bowls at right tackle in perspective consider the fact that in the 41 years Brown has been removed from the organization, an Eagle has been named to the Pro Bowl at right tackle only three times.
When the dust finally settled Brown was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Eagles looked foolish.
No.6: Jerome Brown
What could have been...
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This selection may be a little controversial because Jerome Brown was never traded, released, or lost in free agency.
Sadly, he was killed in a car accident at 27 years old in June 1992.
Maybe this is a sentimental pick, but it seems like after every player on here I begin to wonder, "What could have been?" So what bigger, "What could have been," is there be than Brown?
In five seasons with the Eagles he registered 29.5 sacks as a defensive tackle and earned All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors in the two years prior to his death.
Thanks to Brown's incredible play in the middle, the Eagles were able to take Reggie White out of the defensive tackle position and move him to defensive end. It's not like White was struggling as a defensive tackle, but it allowed White to showcase his true talents and it made the entire team better.
Despite the Eagles having some of the best defenses in the league in the '90s and 2000s, Philadelphia has only seen one Pro Bowl defensive tackle since Brown's death in 1992.
No.5: Terrell Owens
He was really, really good
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You can call Terrell Owens a cancer, headache, or distraction.
I will call him great as he caught 77 passes for 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns in only 14 games in 2004.
Following an ankle sprain and fracture in his leg, T.O. bounced back to play in Super Bowl XXXIX, which marked the franchise's second trip to the big game.
The year also marked the best season in Donovan McNabb's career, but it was all overshadowed when Owens demanded more money in 2005. He was an outcast among many of the fans and players despite his obvious on-field abilities and was eventually kicked off the team after seven games.
The Eagles won two games after his departure and never returned to the Super Bowl.
Philadelphia fans suddenly cared more about having players that displayed great character instead of having players that gave them the best chance to win a championship. It was a sad way to see something so promising end.
T.O. continued to put up big numbers when he left Philadelphia with the exception of his one-year stop in Buffalo while the Eagles have continued to find someone who can replace him.
And if you think DeSean Jackson has been able to fill the shoes of T.O., think again. In Owens' three, he played against the Cowboys as an Eagle he caught 13 passes for 208 yards and hauled in three touchdowns.
Jackson has played five games against the Cowboys, which is two more than Owens for you non-math whizzes and has caught only 16 passes for 246 yards and caught one touchdown.
No.4: Sonny Jurgensen
Finished a Hall-of-Fame career with the Redskins.
Sonny Jurgensen was drafted in the fourth round of the 1957 NFL draft, which ultimately translated into the 43rd overall selection.
It's not like the guy was a stiff, but he had to ride the bench since Norm Van Brocklin was busy winning games and a championship.
Kinda sounds like our current-day situation minus the fact that McNabb never won a championship.
Anyway, Jurgensen finally gets his shot in 1961 after playing backup for four years and ends up going 10-4, and leads the league in completions, passing yards, and touchdowns. The successful season earned Jurgensen All Pro and Pro Bowl honors.
The next two seasons saw Jurgensen go 5-15-2 and it was bye-bye.
Jurgensen was traded to the Redskins where he went on to have a Hall-of-Fame career.
Meanwhile back in Philadelphia, the Eagles were in the midst of a 17-year playoff drought.
Maybe we should have held onto that Jurgensen guy.
No.3: Tommy McDonald
Better known for pass-catching skills and not striking a pose.
As if losing future Hall-of-Famer Sonny Jurgensen after the 1963 season wasn't enough, Philadelphia thought it would be brilliant to send future Hall-of-Famer Tommy McDonald out the door following that season as well.
If you get frustrated with Joe Banner and Andy Reid, can you imagine how pissed you would be that offseason?
In seven seasons with the Eagles, McDonald was named to five Pro Bowls led the league in receiving yards once and receiving touchdowns twice.
Following McDonald's and Jurgensen's departures the Eagles enjoyed only one winning season over the next 10 years and only one season in which they won more than eight games.
I'm not sure why receivers have a tough time in Philadelphia, but given their bad luck I guess no one should be surprised to find out the next player on this list is also a wide receiver.
No.2: Cris Carter
Just got done scoring another one of those touchdowns
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Head Coach Buddy Ryan once said, "All (Cris Carter) does is catch touchdowns."
The comment stemmed from the fact that in Carter's three years with the Eagles he caught 89 passes and yet somehow found the end zone 19 times. That means every 4.6 catches resulted in six points for the Eagles.
Everyone saw the talent he possessed, but those same people also saw a drug problem that not only threatened to derail the receiver's career, but his life as well.
Can you imagine if the Eagles were able to help Carter stay clean and he played his entire career in Philadelphia?
Donovan McNabb to Cris Carter has a nice ring to it.
Heck, Bubby Brister to Cris Carter sounds great.
After Carter left Philadelphia in 1989, he went on to catch 1,012 passes, for 12,449 yards, and 111 touchdown receptions, and eight Pro Bowls.
Can someone please tell me why this guy isn't in Canton. Anyone?
No.1: Reggie White
God told him Green Bay was the place to be. God was right.
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I knew Norman Braman was a complete knucklehead when he decided not to offer Reggie White a new contract in 1993, but I wasn't sure how bad it was until I did a little Google search, and some reading on Wikipedia.
Apparently, Braman runs a bunch of car dealerships and is fighting against the Florida Marlins building a new stadium and is willing to take his fight to the Supreme Court.
He's that guy.
And it clearly explains why he thought it would be a good idea to let one of the greatest defenders in NFL history walk away from Philadelphia.
In White's eight seasons with the Eagles he registered 124 sacks. Clyde Simmons is second on the list with 76 followed by Hugh Douglas with 54.5.
Seriously Braman? You let this guy walk?
He anchored the league's best defense, which defined the team and connected the fans to the organization.
The Eagles floundered around mediocrity when White left, while the Hall-of-Famer went on to Green Bay where he won the Super Bowl in 1996.
Assuming Terrell Owens and Cris Carter make the Hall of Fame, this would mark the sixth player on the list who once played in Philadelphia, parted ways at least midway into their career, and then landed in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Oh the pain of being an Eagles fan.