Every year when the Pro Football Hall of Fame announces its latest class, we just shake our head.
No, they can’t induct every worthy candidate immediately, but for a franchise that’s been around for nearly 90 years, the Eagles are woefully under-represented in Canton, Ohio.
Even with Brian Dawkins and Harold Carmichael both getting enshrined in the last few years, there are still only seven Hall of Famers who spent more than half their career with the Eagles: Dawk and Harold along with Reggie White, Steve Van Buren, Chuck Bednarik, Tommy McDonald and Pete Pihos.
So while we congratulate former Eagles coach Dick Vermeil and one-time USFL Philadelphia Stars linebacker Sam Mills on becoming part of the Hall’s Class of 2022, let’s take a look at 11 Eagles who deserve consideration for football’s greatest honor.
Eric Allen: Criminally, E.A. has never even been a Hall of Fame finalist. During the 13-year period from 1988 through 2000, he was simply the best cornerback and most complete cornerback in football. Only Rod Woodson had more interceptions than Allen during that span, and he spent a few of those years playing safety. E.A. had nine pick-6’s – 7th-most in NFL history and more than all but one corner in the Hall of Fame. Six Pro Bowls, 54 regular-season interceptions and four more in the playoffs. Let’s get him into Canton!
Maxie Baughan: The greatest linebacker in history who’s not in the Hall of Fame. Baughan made nine Pro Bowls during his 12-year career with the Eagles and Rams and was 1st– or 2nd-team all-pro seven times. He was the Eagles’ 2nd-round pick in 1960 and started on the NFL Championship team and made his first Pro Bowl team as a rookie. He had 18 interceptions and 24 unofficial sacks and is one of only five eligible nine-time Pro Bowlers at any position not in the Hall of Fame.
Bill Bergey: Bergey was already a very good player with the Bengals, but he blossomed when he got to Philly in 1974, making four Pro Bowl teams, 1st-team all-pro twice and 2nd-team all-pro three more times. Bergey retired after the 1980 Super Bowl, finishing his career with 27 interceptions, 18 ½ unofficial sacks and 21 fumble recoveries. His 27 INTs to this day are 11th-most in NFL history by a linebacker.
Harold Jackson: When Jackson retired in 1983, he was one of only three players in history with 10,000 receiving yards. The other two – Don Maynard and Lance Alworth – have both been in the Hall of Fame for over 30 years. During the 13-year span from 1969 through 1981, Jackson had over 1,500 MORE receiving yards than anybody else in the NFL. Pro Football Reference’s Hall of Fame monitor ranks him higher than numerous Hall of Fame WRs, including Carmichael and Tommy McDonald.
Seth Joyner: The only player in NFL history with 50 sacks and 25 interceptions, and the most feared outside linebacker of his generation. His 27 interceptions including the postseason are 12th-most ever by a linebacker. And to do it all as an 8th-round pick? Joyner ranks 5th in NFL history in sacks and 7th in interceptions among players drafted in the 8th round or later. Joyner, who today works for NBC Sports Philadelphia on Eagles pregame and postgame, has inexplicably never even been a Hall of Fame finalist.
Sean Landeta: In his incredible 21-year career, which included two stints with the Eagles, Landeta made 1st-team all-pro three times and was named to two Pro Bowl teams and averaged 42 yards per punt in an NFL-record 18 consecutive seasons. He never averaged less than 42 yards per punt in a season in which he punted more than six times. Landeta played on two Super Bowl champions and set NFL records for most punts and most punt yards until they were broken by Shane Lechler. The Pro Football Reference Monitor has Lechler and Landeta as the top two potential Hall of Fame punters.
Pete Retzlaff: A 22nd-round draft pick in 1953, Retzlaff piled up 452 catches for 7,412 yards and 47 touchdowns in his 11 seasons with the Eagles and ranked 6th in NFL history in receiving when he retired. He starred on the 1960 NFL Championship team and to this day still ranks 2nd in franchise history in receiving yards, behind only Harold Carmichael. Pro Football Reference’s Hall of Fame Monitor lists Retzlaff as the highest-rated tight end – or end – in history who’s not yet in the Hall of Fame.
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Asante Samuel: With any prospective Hall of Famer, I ask, “Was he ever the best at his position over a five-year period?” From 2006 through 2010, Samuel had 36 interceptions, more than any other NFL player. Ed Reed was close with 32, but among corners, only Hall of Famer Charles Woodson (30) was within 10. Asante had 51 career INTs but including his seven in the postseason, including an NFL-record four returned for TDs, he had 58. And that’s tied for 11th all-time among cornerbacks, and his 10 pick 6’s are 5th-most ever. The ultimate defensive playmaker.
Clyde Simmons: So overlooked because he played across from Reggie White, but Simmons was a flat-out stud in his own right. Had 121 ½ sacks as a 9th-round pick, and during the heyday of the Gang Green defense – from 1989 through 1992 – he actually had MORE sacks than White and more than any other defensive end in the league. When he retired, Simmons ranked 10th all-time in sacks, and eight of the nine ahead of him are already in the Hall of Fame. And to those who believe Simmons’ production was a product of the double teams White was getting, he added 44 ½ sacks after leaving the Eagles. AND he was a beast against the run.
Troy Vincent: The Pennsbury High School graduate was one of the most complete cornerbacks of his era, and in the late 1990s and early 2000s he was as productive as any corner in the league. Vincent finished his career with 47 interceptions and four more in the postseason, but he was also a physical presence, a sure tackler, a willing run supporter and a good blitzer. He made five straight Pro Bowls from 1999 through 2003, and during the four-year span from 1999 through 2002 – the first four years the stat was kept – he had an NFL-high 83 pass knockdowns, including an NFL-record 27 in 2001, second-most ever recorded in a season.
Al Wistert: One of the great Hall of Fame omissions is Wistert, a two-way lineman who was a four-time 1st-team all-pro and two-time 2nd-team all-pro during his nine-year career with the Eagles. He was named to the team of the decade for the 1940s, captained two Eagles NFL Championship teams and had his number 70 retired. Wistert also taught and coached at Riverside High in South Jersey while he was playing for the Eagles. A legend.