The Philadelphia Eagles franchise just lost one of their greatest defensive backs in team history. Late last night, Tom Brookshier passed away at the age of 78, and when the news officially broke this morning, it shocked both his former team--the Birds--and fans that have fond memories of his playing days and those who have simply heard of his performances in Eagles history books. Despite being selected in the 10th-round of the Draft in 1953 (a round so late that it no longer exists), the 6-foot Cornerback wound up playing through a consistent 7-year career in Philadelphia. Besides his rookie season that included 8 interceptions (which then stood among the top interception records for the franchise), he was never flashy or particularly thrilling to watch, but delivered in every way he could.
A 2-time Pro-Bowl selection and a listed player on a pair of All-Pro squads, Brookshier (pictured) also earned the rare privilege of having his number retired by the team, meaning no future player will be given his jersey digits (40). His defensive play assisted the Eagles in capturing the NFL title in 1960 (one of the years he was named as an All-Pro), and he finished his career with 20 interceptions and 8 fumble recoveries. Because tackling statistics were not available in his playing days, they are not specifically known, but it has been estimated that Brookshier averaged about 6-10 tackles per game, proving he was a solid defender. In fact, his NFL career came to a close because of a tackle he made; while bringing down an opponent, he sustained a compound leg fracture.
After his post-1961 retirement from the league, Brookshier pursued a broadcasting job, and successfully latched on to various networks as a color commentator and play-by-play analyst. He was also inducted into the Eagles' Honor Roll for his outstanding efforts with the organization, and will truly be remembered for what he brought to Philadelphia as both a player, media member, and kind-hearted person.
"Tom Brookshier is one of all-time greats, both for what he did on the field and for the kind of man he was off the field. I will always remember him for his booming and bright personality," said Eagles' head coach Andy Reid. "He had an uncanny love for life, a love for his family and a love for the game of football, especially for the Philadelphia Eagles. He bled green and I will always cherish our conversations and the relationship that we fostered throughout my tenure in Philadelphia. Our deepest condolences go out to his wife, Barbara, and the rest of the Brookshier family."
Thomas Jefferson Brookshier (December 16, 1931 - January 29, 2010)