The Play That Defined Brian Westbrook

Brian Westbrook was many things during his days as an Eagle: explosive runner, dynamic receiver, one-man highlight reel, go-to weapon and team leader are just a few of the hats that he willingly wore.

He was one of the most professional and dedicated players I’ve ever seen. Even during his contract squabbles, he remained classy and didn’t resort to lowbrow tactics.

You hear terms like “team player” thrown around a lot, but those two words best describe Westbrook. He always did what was asked of him even when he didn’t agree. It’s not ideal being the main runner in an offense that passes 65% of the time, but Brian took it all in stride and did the most he could with the limited amount of touches he received.

Intelligent, selfless players are a dying breed in the NFL. More and more guys crave the spotlight and their own stat sheets. They obsess over personal goals just so they can achieve a bonus that will fatten their wallets. Westbrook wasn’t one of those guys. He understood the most important thing in pro football was winning, not team records and trips to the Pro Bowl.

On December 16, 2007, Westbrook showed in one single play what he was all about. The Eagles were saddled with a disappointing 5-8 record and facing the heavily favored 12-1 Cowboys in Dallas. No one gave the undermanned Birds much of a shot to win, but late in the fourth quarter they found themselves clinging to a 10-6 lead.

With just over two minutes to play at the Cowboys 25-yard line, Donovan McNabb handed the ball to Westbrook, who broke into the clear with an easy path to the endzone. What happened next was his defining moment:

So long #36. You will be missed.

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