Philadelphia Eagles: All-Time Jersey Numbers 16-30
This article is part two of a series. To read part one, click here.
For many players, the number on their uniform is simply that: a number. It's a quick way to identify a player on the field and, unlike a name, it's much easier for fans to pick out from the nosebleed section.
Oftentimes, the number holds a personal significance to the player, such as a variation of his college number or the number of his favorite NFL star. However, such significance is rarely conveyed beyond the locker room.
Still, there are a few instances when the significance of a player's number transcends the norm. Through exceptional play on the field, a player can cause his number to become permanently associated with his name. Some, like the Bengal formerly known as Chad Johnson, take it a step further, going so far as to assimilate their number into their public personality.
While the following fifteen Eagles haven't exactly changed their last names to reflect the digits on their chest, they have made an impact to the franchise in such a way that a part of their legacy lives on through the numbers. Here are the most memorable Eagles ever to wear the numbers 16 through 30.
#16: Norm Snead
Even though he will always be remembered as the scraps that the Eagles received from the Redskins in exchange for Hall of Fame quarterback Sonny Jurgensen, Norm Snead still managed to carve out his place in franchise history.
Over seven seasons in Philadelphia, Snead remained the team's starter. His best year came in 1965, where he posted a then-career high 78.0 QB rating and earned his second of four Pro Bowl selections.
#17: Harold Carmichael
Worn by one of the most famous wide receivers in Eagles history, the number 17 will be forever linked to Harold Carmichael in the minds of Philadelphia fans.
A giant on the field at 6'8" 225 pounds, Carmichael established himself as Ron Jaworski's go-to guy over his thirteen seasons with the team. In addition to earning his way to four Pro Bowls, Carmichael led the league in receptions and receiving yards in just his third year as a pro.
Thanks to playmakers like Carmichael, the Eagles, who hadn't reached the playoffs since their championship in 1960, were able to turn their team around and make the cut four years in a row.
#18: Ben Hawkins
Wide receiver Ben Hawkins had a relatively quiet rookie season after getting drafted by the Eagles in the third round of the 1966 draft, but made his mark on the NFL during his sophomore year.
In 1967, Hawkins established himself as a deep threat and led the league in receiving yards with 1,265, ranked third in the league with 10 touchdowns and ranked fifth in the league with a 21.4 yard average per reception.
In the days before uniform regulations were ridiculously strict, "The Hawk's" trademark unstrapped chinstrap was always visible flapping around as he tore downfield, and it even came in handy on one occasion. On a 78-yard TD reception in 1970, the slippery Hawkins was able to leave a Green Bay defender holding nothing but his empty helmet as Hawkins scampered downfield for the score.
#19: Tom Dempsey
Although most famous for his NFL-record 63-yard field goal he kicked while a member of the New Orleans Saints, kicker Tom Dempsey is still perhaps one of the most inspiring Eagles to ever don the number 19.
Born without toes on his right foot and missing three fingers on his right hand, Dempsey managed to overcome his disability and develop into a mini sensation around the league. In his three years kicking for the Eagles, he made an immediate impact, leading the league in field goal percentage (70.6%) and kicking a franchise record 54-yarder during his first year with the team.
The fact that Dempsey so successfully overcame his disability quickly became an inspiration for players everywhere, including Eagles quarterback Roman Gabriel:
"Tom inspired people. No one talked about it. Tom certainly never talked about it. But you could feel it. You saw what he overcame to make it to the NFL, and it just said so much about him."
Source: The Eagles Encyclopedia by Ray Didinger & Robert S. Lyons
#20: Brian Dawkins
As one of the most beloved Eagles of the modern era, safety Brian Dawkins has turned the number 20 into a sacred object among Eagles fans. In fact, when Dawkins left the team via free agency in 2009, team owner Jeff Lurie stated that, as long as he was the owner, no Eagles player would ever again wear Dawkins' jersey number, saying "It's inconceivable that anybody would wear number 20."
Known for his unparallelled football instincts and devastating hits, "Weapon X" racked up a total of seven Pro Bowl selections and six All-Pro honors during his thirteen years in Philadelphia. He currently ranks second in franchise history (behind kicker David Akers) for most games played with a whopping 183.
One of Dawkins' most memorable performances came in 2002 against the Houston Texans, where he became the first player in NFL history to record a sack, an interception, a forced fumble and a touchdown reception in a single game.
#21: Eric Allen
As one of the most productive members of the Eagles' "Gang Green" defense of the early 1990's, cornerback Eric Allen produced a memorable seven seasons with the team.
A five-time Pro Bowler with the Eagles, Allen established himself as an interception machine, racking up a total of 34 picks. His most famous one came during the Eagles' 1993 matchup against the New York Jets.
With Philadelphia down by two points late in the fourth quarter, Allen stepped in front of quarterback Boomer Esiason's would-be first down pass and returned the pick 93 yards for the game winning touchdown. Steve Sabol of NFL Films would later go on to call the play the "Greatest Interception Return in NFL History."
#22: Timmy Brown
A three-time Pro Bowler, Timmy Brown solidified himself as one of the top return men in franchise history over eight years with the team.
His 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown is the longest in franchise history and he remains the only Eagle (and only one of nine NFL players) to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in a single game.
Not just a prolific kick returner, Brown also had significant talent as a halfback. His 1962 season was one of the most productive by any player in team history, as Brown racked up 2,306 all-purpose yards and scored 78 points. He also produced two 99-yard kick returns that year, one off of a missed field goal and another off of a Redskins kickoff.
#23: Troy Vincent
Although he began his career as a Miami Dolphin, cornerback Troy Vincent is most remembered for his eight seasons as an Eagle, where he earned his way to five Pro Bowls.
Vincent's leadership was unparallelled, as evidenced by his perennial team captain status and his service as president of the NFLPA. His role in the deadly Eagles defense of the late 1990's resulted in 28 interceptions.
In 2010, Sports Illustrated named Vincent the best NFL player to ever wear the number 23.
#24: Sheldon Brown
Although not a superstar like many of the players on this list, cornerback Sheldon Brown nevertheless produced a solid eight-year career in Philadelphia and won the hearts of many Eagles fans with his hard-hitting play.
Although he never managed to get selected to a Pro Bowl, Brown toiled faithfully alongside fellow starter Lito Shepperd for years. His big moment came in the 2006 NFC Divisional Playoff game against the Saints. On the opening drive, halfback Reggie Bush was in the process of hauling in a floating pass when Brown burst into the backfield, delivering a devastating hit that left Bush crawling around for several minutes.
Brown's hit would later go on to be dubbed the "hit of the year" by many football analysts and remains one of the most talked-about hits in Eagles history.
#25: Tommy McDonald
Drafted in the third round of the 1957 draft, wide receiver Tommy McDonald was one of the integral parts of the Eagles offense that led the team to its 1960 championship.
A perennial Pro Bowler by his sophomore season, McDonald led the league in touchdown receptions twice (1958 and 1960) and receiving yards once (1960).
He is one of only 18 Eagles to receive a bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
#26: Lito Sheppard
During his seven years as an Eagle, cornerback Lito Sheppard established himself as one of the most exciting pieces in Jim Johnson's prolific defense.
Sheppard's knack for timely interceptions saved the Eagles from more than one defeat. In fact, Sheppard's game-winning pick six against the Cowboys in 2006 marked the first time in history that an NFL player had returned two interceptions for over 100 yards.
Before his injury-plagued season in 2007 that led to his eventual trade to the Jets, Sheppard had earned two Pro Bowl honors and one All-Pro selection as an Eagle.
#27: Quintin Mikell
From a humble beginning as an undrafted rookie, safety Quintin Mikell scratched and clawed his way to a starting position on the team after contributing as a special teams ace for four seasons.
Although solid in his four years as a starter, Mikell will probably be most remembered for his outstanding special teams play in 2005, which secured a narrow 20-17 victory over the Chargers. Late in the fourth quarter, Mikell managed to block a field goal attempt by kicker Nate Kaeding. The ensuing live ball was scooped up by Eagles cornerback Matt Ware, who scampered 65 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
A consistently underrated player, Mikell was honored with his first Pro Bowl selection in 2009. If re-signed before the beginning of the 2012 season, Mikell will be one of only two Eagles left from the original Super Bowl XXXIX squad.
#28: Bill Bradley
The multi-talented Bill Bradley served the Eagles not only as a free safety, but also as a punter and kick returner during the dark years of the early 1970's.
In 1972, Bradley became the first player ever to lead the league in interceptions in consecutive seasons, with 11 in 1971 and 9 in 1972. The feat has been matched only once since.
After an eight-year career as a jack-of-all trades, the three-time Pro Bowler took his skills to the coaching circuit. He currently coaches defensive backs for the UFL's Virginia Destroyers.
#29: Harold Jackson
After landing in Philadelphia via a trade with the St. Louis Rams, wide receiver Harold Jackson quickly emerged as one of the top pass-catchers in the NFL.
Jackson was able to make an immediate impact on the team. His first season, 1969, was one of his best as an Eagle. Jackson led the NFL receiving yards with 1,116 and contributed nine touchdowns through the air.
He earned two of his eventual five Pro Bowl selections as an Eagle and went on to become one of the most productive NFL receivers of the 1970's, leading the league in receptions (432), yards (7,724) and receiving touchdowns (61).
#30: Brian Mitchell
The last great kick returner for the Philadelphia Eagles, Brian Mitchell had an extremely productive career as a Redskin before landing in Philadelphia via free agency. Although Mitchell had already accumulated the majority of his accolades before his three-year stint with the Eagles, he still managed to make history during his short time with the team.
In a 2002 game against the 49ers, Mitchell returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown, making his career total a record-breaking 13 return touchdowns. He went on to set a second record that game for most kick return yards in a single game with 206.
Mitchell finished his career ranking as the NFL's second all-time leader in total yardage (23,330), surpassed only by Jerry Rice.