Who is the best Philadelphia Eagles players of all-time and who would coach them? That’s what the folks over at NFL.com tried to answer in their “All-Time XI” series focusing on the NFC East. Adam Rank was the poor soul selected to tell us what to think about our legends, and here are the results.
1) Chuck Bednarik, C/LB (1949-1962)
2) Randall Cunningham, QB (1985-1995)
3) Brian Dawkins, S (1996-2008)
4) Reggie White, DE (1985-1992)
5) Steve Van Buren, RB (1944-1951)
6) Tommy McDonald, WR (1957-1963)
7) Al Wistert, OT (1944-1951)
8) Pete Pihos, WR (1947-1955)
9) Pete Retzlaff, WR (1956-1966)
10) Jerome Brown, DT (1987-1991)
11) Donovan McNabb, QB (1999-2009)
Coach: Doug Pederson (2016-present)
It’s hard to dispute “Concrete Charlie” as the greatest to ever play for the Eagles. Chuck Bednarik was the last of the NFL’s “Sixty-Minute Men”, playing both offense and defense. Despite the heavy toll of playing two physical positions, Bednarik only missed three games in his 14-year career on his way to collecting a bevy of awards and two NFL Championships. Brandon Lee Gowton has written extensively and more eloquently than I ever could on Bednarik’s legacy and I highly recommend revisiting that piece.
Randall Cunningham is an interesting choice behind Bednarik. The 37th overall selection in the 1985 NFL Draft, Cunningham had a rocky start that would mentally break weaker minded quarterbacks. In his rookie year he threw for only 1 touchdown to go with his 8 interceptions and completed a meager 42% of his passes. He would start 5 games and appear in 15 games in his second season where he was sacked an NFL season high 72 times. That record wouldn’t be broken until 2002, when Houston Texans rookie David Carr was dropped 76 times.
If you've never seen his highlight tapes, you're missing out.— NFL (@NFL) March 27, 2017
SO fun to watch.
Happy Birthday to the great Randall Cunningham! pic.twitter.com/4ain2qPX0V
While Carr never stopped seeing ghosts, ultimately derailing his once promising career, Cunningham evolved to thrive in the chaos. As an Eagle, he threw for 22,877 yards, 150 touchdowns, amassed a 59% win percentage as a starter and led his team to the playoffs on five occasions. A dual-threat, Cunningham added 4,482 rushing yards and 32 rushing touchdowns during his tenure with Philadelphia. Scratch that, a triple threat, Cunningham recorded the 3rd longest punt in NFL history, booming one for 91-yards.
“Now, I usually won’t put non-Hall of Famers super high on these lists. I’m making an exception for Randall Cunningham. I think he’s the most amazing player I’ve ever seen. And, if he played on the grass at the Linc instead of the turf at the Vet, maybe his career wouldn’t have flamed out in Philly. But this dude was unbelievable. I’d even say the Eagles win two Super Bowls in the 1990s if he doesn’t get hurt.” – Adam Rank
It’s of note that Doug Pederson was considered the best head coach in Eagles history. In two quick seasons, Pederson and the rest of the Eagles front office and coaching staff reversed the fortune of a snake-bitten franchise and fan base. Fourteen years of Andy Reid accumulating a 130-120-1 record with the Eagles, including 9 trips to the playoffs, 6 NFC East titles, and 1 NFC Championship didn’t stand a chance next to Pederson bringing home the Eagles first Super Bowl.
Is Doug Pederson the greatest coach of all-time? Who says “no”? What does your all-time list look like? It’s the off-season, so it’s a perfect time to look back at Eagles history and appreciate the past with new, less jaded eyes.