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Former Eagles don't always return home to a friendly nest

LeSean McCoy is the latest former Eagle to return to Philly the season after departing.

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

It is always odd to see a player who was an icon for one team in another team's uniform, from Johnny Unitas as a Charger to Brett Favre as a Viking, there always player/team combos that just don't sit right. Eagles fans are no stranger to this feeling. Reggie White's first game as a Packer was at home against the Eagles, and in 1997 he made his only return trip to Philly, but by then we were used to it. We were spared seeing him in a Panthers jersey in 2000. The sight of Randall Cunningham in a Cowboys jersey is the stuff of nightmares for those of us who grew up watching him. Recent years have given a new generation of fans those same feelings, and Sunday they will be revisited when LeSean McCoy comes to town with the Buffalo Bills.

Terrell Owens

The table was set for Terrell Owens to be a hero in Philadelphia. For one shining season he was, and then it predictably all fell apart. After years of stubbornly refusing to add a legitimate top wide receiver, Andy Reid and the Eagles brought out the big guns when they acquired Owens after the 2003 season. The results were spectacular. With an actual threat on the outside and deep to work with, Donovan McNabb had the best season of his career and the Eagles strolled to another division title and top seed in the NFC. Owens heroically returned from a devastating broken ankle suffered late in the season to catch 9 passes for 122 yards in the Super Bowl. He had Philadelphia in his hands, and then he threw it all away. He complained about his contract a year after signing it, and returned to the petulant ways that made him unwanted in San Fransisco and available to the Eagles in the first place. After he was suspended to end the 2005 season, he was released and signed with, of all teams, the Dallas Cowboys.

In Week 4 of the 2006 season he returned to Philly and was given a venomous reaction by the fans. TO laughed it up, but it was the Eagles who had the last laugh. Visibly upset with not catching a pass in the first half, Owens was held to just 45 yards on 3 catches for the game, while Hank Baskett caught 3 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown, Reggie Brown had 4 for 79 yards and a TD and Donovan McNabb threw for 354 yards. With the Cowboys in position to tie the game in the final minute, Lito Sheppard returned a Drew Bledsoe pass 102 yards for a touchdown, sealing victory in another chapter of the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry.

Brian Dawkins

When his contract was up after the 2008 season, Brian Dawkins was already an Eagles legend. When the Eagles lowballed him a contract offer and he instead signed with the Denver Broncos, fans were understandably upset. They were upset that a franchise icon was allowed to walk away for nothing. They were upset that the team, long considered cheap by fans, lowballed him. And they were upset and remained upset that there wasn't anyone waiting in the wings to fill the void.

In his first year with the Broncos, Dawkins returned to Philly in December in a game with playoff implications for both teams. The Broncos were 8-6 and in the thick of a fight for wild card spot. The Eagles were 10-4, a game up on the Cowboys. The atmosphere was going to be electric regardless of who the opponent was. When Dawkins was introduced, the Linc went absolutely and deservedly nuts.

In the game, the Eagles got out to a 10-0 lead and led 20-7 at halftime before Denver stormed back to tie it at 27 all with 6 minutes to play. Dawkins recorded a game-leading seven tackles, but Weapon X's efforts weren't enough as the Eagles kicked a game-winning field goal with seconds to spare, bookending the game with jubilation by Eagles fans.

Donovan McNabb

You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. Donovan McNabb, one of the most polarizing Philadelphia athletes, lived too long.

A year after letting Brian Dawkins walk, Andy Reid let another icon go, trading Donovan McNabb to the Redskins. Even the biggest McNabb fans had to wince. In Week 4 of the 2010 season, McNabb returned to the Linc and already things were backfiring. The trading of McNabb kickstarted the Kevin Kolb, era, but Kolb was injured in the first game of the season and Michael Vick took over as the starter.

With the national media stereotypically speculating that fans would boo him, McNabb entered the field to a chorus of cheers. Then both he and the Eagles gave no one anything to cheer about. Vick was injured in the first quarter and Kolb took over, and the Eagles mustered only 12 points. McNabb was intercepted by Nate Allen, who the Eagles selected in the draft with the pick acquired in the trade with Washington. Despite a lackluster performance that saw him go 8-19 for 125 yards the Redskins prevailed 17-12.

Andy Reid

It ended poorly, but for the majority of Andy Reid's time in Philly the Eagles were a very good team. When he returned in Week 3 of the 2013 season, fans didn't forget all the good times. Reid, who led the Eagles to their second Super Bowl appearance and an additional four NFC Championship Games, who won more than twice as many regular season games as any other coach in Eagles history, he got the standing ovation he deserved when introduced before the game.

And then at the end, like he had done so many times before, he walked off Lincoln Financial Field a winner, 26-16. The Eagles turned the ball over 5 times, and proving that old dogs can learn new tricks, the Chiefs ran 11 times and passed only 7 times in the last 11:31 of the game before taking three kneel downs. Finally Eagles fans got to see Andy run the ball at the end of the game, they just didn't like the result.

DeSean Jackson

He might be the last on this list but DeSean Jackson isn't first or even second talented wide receiver the Eagles released for reasons other than his play. Before there was Jackson there was Terrell Owens, and before Owens there was Cris Carter. Nor was he the first to join the Redskins. But he was the first to play against the Eagles and have everyone leave happy.

In Week 3 of the 2014 season, Jackson and the Redskins had a shootout with the Eagles. Jackson did his part, torching the Eagles secondary with five catches for 117 yards and a touchdown of 81 yards. He got physical with some players in a game that had a memorable brawl, and the Eagles won 37-34. That salient detail may have been lost on Jackson, who the day after the game posted a photo of his touchdown on Instagram with the hashtags #CashMoney and #0neOfone. He got his touchdown, the Eagles got the win, so everyone went home happy.

That won't happen on Sunday when LeSean McCoy plays the Eagles. Like everyone but TO he'll likely get a warm reaction, but he wants to win just as badly as anyone.