Philadelphia Eagles: 30 greatest players in franchise history
By John Buhler
Picking just 30 was close to impossible, but we did our best. Here are the 30 greatest players in Philadelphia Eagles franchise history.
The Philadelphia Eagles began playing football way back in 1933. They came into the NFL as a replacement for the bankrupt football team known as the Frankford Yellow Jackets. Outside of the 1943 NFL season when they briefly combined with the in-state rival Pittsburgh Steelers to form the Phil-Pitt Steagles, the Eagles have been a prominent fixture in the American NFL lexicon.
Philadelphia won its first two championships back-to-back in 1948 and 1949. A decade later, The Birds would capture their third NFL championship in 13 years, winning it all in 1960. Then, it took 57 years for Philadelphia to win its fourth-ever championship on the gridiron. The Eagles won Super Bowl LII over the New England Patriots in Minneapolis just this past February.
While Philadelphia has had several outstanding teams, one thing has been a common thread with this NFL franchise: the fans. Philadelphia has one of the most rabid fan bases in sport. Eagles fans are a fiercely loyal bunch, who embody the us versus them mentality probably better than any team in the NFL.
Though the fans and the overall pageantry make the Eagles one of the most iconic franchises in the NFL, we have to talk about the players for a second. Narrowing this list down to just 30 all-time great Eagles was immensely difficult. When a team has an 85-year history, some excellent players are going to miss the cut. That’s just how this sort of thing goes. Without further ado, here are the 30 best to play on the gridiron in the City of Brotherly Love.
Honorable Mentions: Shawn Andrews, Billy Ray Barnes, Bill Bradley, Tom Brookshier, Hugh Douglas, William Fuller, Bill Hewitt, Wes Hopkins, Keith Jackson, Ron Jaworski, Charlie Johnson, Lane Johnson, Sonny Jurgensen, Bucko Kilroy, Chad Lewis, Evan Mathis, Terrell Owens, Floyd Peters, Asante Samuel, Lito Sheppard, Clyde Simmons, Darren Sproles, Tra Thomas, Bobby Thomason, Leonard Weaver, Carson Wentz, Brian Westbrook, Norm Willey, Alex Wojciechowicz, Charle Young
Back in 1986, the Eagles took a chance on an outside linebacker from UTEP in the eight round of the NFL Draft. It turned out to be one of the better draft selections the Eagles have ever made in terms of value. That player would end up being multi-time All-Pro outside linebacker Seth Joyner. He was excellent in his eight years with Philadelphia.
Joyner carved out a starting role with the Eagles as a second-year player in 1987. While he was a solid starter for the Eagles, Joyner really hit his stride with The Birds in his late 20s. Beginning in 1991, Joyner would make his first of three consecutive All-Pro teams. He made three of the next four Pro Bowl squads, including his first year in Phoenix with the 1994 Arizona Cardinals.
Joyner would go on to play 15 years in the NFL with four different teams. He would finally be a Super Bowl champion, as the 1998 Denver Broncos defeated the Atlanta Falcons down in Miami in Super Bowl XXXIII. That would also be Joyner’s final professional game. Interestingly, that was also John Elway‘s final NFL game.
In eight years with the Eagles, Joyner made three All-Pro teams and two Pro Bowl rosters. He appeared in 120 of his 195 NFL games in Eagles uniform. This allowed Joyner to make the Eagles’ 75th Anniversary team. He ended up with 875 tackles, 37.0 quarterback sacks, 21 forced fumbles, 17 interceptions, eight fumble recoveries and five defensive touchdowns while starring for Philadelphia.