Over the past several seasons, the Philadelphia Eagles have seen a number of long-tenured fan favorites leave the team. Dawkins, Runyan, McNabb, Westbrook...the list goes on and on. And after 12 years in midnight green, kicker David Akers is nowhere to be found at Eagles training camp, having signed a three-year contract with the 49ers.
Akers has been enormously successful for the Birds, racking up nearly 300 field goals and an 81.9 field goal percentage. With 1,325 points, he is by far the Eagles all-time scoring leader.
The 36-year-old Louisville alumni has had his fair share of memorable moments with the Eagles. There was a fight with a handful of Giants players, several game-winning field goals (some of which were in the postseason) and of course the infamous game against the Raiders back in 2005.
After tearing his hamstring in the first half, Akers was understandably forced to leave the game. But with the Eagles in need of his services, Akers returned in the second half to make two extra points and a game-winning 28-yard field goal. He immediately fell to the ground, writhing with pain as his teammates mobbed him in celebration.
Akers, having made his fifth Pro-Bowl last year, has seen little decline in his game. In 2010, he had an 84.2 field goal percentage, above his career average. Unfortunately, the highlight of his season was missing two key field goals in the first round game against the Green Bay Packers. It was later reported that Akers' had discovered just a few days before the game that his six-year-old daughter had a malignant tumor.
After the game Reid had said, "We can count. Those points would have helped."
Akers reportedly was hurt by his coach's comments, and it may have been a contributing factor to his parting ways with the organization.
But, despite the sour ending to his Eagles career, Akers made sure to thank the fans one last time. The former longest-tenured Philadelphia athlete will have a billboard placed on I-95 that says the following:
"Thanks Philly for blessing me for 12 years and for your support on and off the field!
-May God bless you all, David Akers"
The gesture was an incredibly classy move by a man who has shown nothing but loyalty to his teammates, the fans and the city.
So far, the Birds' new kicker, Alex Henery, and new punter, Chas Henry are impressing their coaches in Lehigh Valley. Special teams coordinator Bobby April said, "we're very happy we have them."
But as the season progresses, both Henery and Henry will need to adjust to the high-pressure NFL system. There will surely be a learning curve for both players and their performance and progression this season will be a very interesting storyline to watch.
Although Akers has taken his talents to San Francisco, he will always be remembered as one of the key contributors to last decade's era, in which the Eagles made numerous NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl appearance.
However, with his departure, it's clear that this is now officially the start of a new era in Eagles football. Let the games begin.