The Philadelphia Eagles have been entertaining, if not successful, over the past several years. There have been no shortage of storylines from the team in the past decade, including Michael Vick's career revival and electrifying return to football, a revolving door of talented but controversial skill position players, and the failed Chip Kelly experiment. For all the talent and buzz surrounding the team, the best they've managed in the past five years is one playoff appearance resulting in a wildcard round loss to the New Orleans Saints.
The Eagles have had some legendary players in their history, including Reggie White, Brian Dawkins, and Donovan McNabb, resulting in some very competitive seasons and multiple championship appearances, but the franchise's first Super Bowl victory continues to elude them. Since the McNabb era, the team has relied heavily on free agency to build their team, but several big spending sprees and high-profile departures later have left the Eagles still in search of an identity.
All the comings and goings have left a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths and been a sharp departure from the relative year-to-year consistency Philadelphia fans enjoyed when Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb were in town. With plenty of football history in the City of Brotherly Love, let's dive into 8 players who loved being an Eagle and 7 who hated it.
15 Loved it: Brian Westbrook
While many teams thought the 5'8" Westbrook was too small to make an impact in the NFL, Eagle's coach Andy Reid thought differently, investing a third round pick in the running back out of Villanova. Westbrook went about proving the doubters wrong with a great nine-year career in Philadelphia's backfield.
Westbrook retired with the third-highest yardage total in Eagles history at 5,995. On the field, he was a threat as a runner, receiver, and punt returner, and off of it he was a soft-spoken professional with no character issues and was embraced by the city of Philadelphia. Even now, Westbrook remains a beloved figure in the Philadelphia area as fans will forever stand behind this Eagle.
14 Hated it: Cary Williams
When Chip Kelly took over the team in 2013, he put his stamp on the organization immediately with his unorthodox ways and high-tempo practices. More than a few players did not like it, and free agent cornerback Cary Williams, who joined the team around the same time, was one of them.
Following a win against the Seahawks during a successful run to open the 2014 season, Williams publicly criticized Chip Kelly's practice methods, claiming they were over-the-top and that the coaching staff was not being smart with their players. After a mediocre end to the season, Williams was cut from the team without being given a chance to restructure his deal. And that was that for Williams and Philadelphia; a place where he surely hated playing during his time there.
13 Loved it: Conner Barwin
Chalk this one up as great free agent signing by the Eagles. Conner Barwin came over from Houston and signed a six-year contract in 2013. The hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker quickly warmed to Philadelphia and it showed on the field, in the locker room, and in the community, as Barwin turned into a leader on the defense and spent his free time working with his foundation to revitalize parks in the city of Philadelphia.
Barwin was released this offseason in a predictable move to clear up cap space, but the 30-year-old is remembered as being nothing short of a class act in his four seasons with Philadelphia, and fans and players alike will miss his presence on the field in 2017.
12 Hated it: Kevin Kolb
Kevin Kolb had a rough time in Philadelphia. Drafted in the second round in 2007, he was tabbed as the next big thing in Philadelphia and McNabb's future replacement. After patiently waiting for three years, he finally got his shot in the 2010 season when McNabb was traded and Kolb named the starter. The Kevin Kolb Era did not even last a full game, as he was knocked out of the Eagle's season opener against the Green Bay Packers. His backup? Michael Vick.
Vick took the reigns and never looked back, electrifying the league and taking firm hold of the starting position. After it was clear the team was moving forward with Vick at quarterback, Kolb was traded to Arizona during the 2011 offseason. His career never amounted to much, as concussions plagued the once-promising prospect and Kolb retired in 2014.
11 Loved it: Brent Celek
A veteran tight end in the twilight of his career, Celek is one of the longest surviving Eagles on the roster. The fifth-round-pick in 2007 has seen it all, going to an NFC championship game with Donovan McNabb, watching Michael Vick return to superhuman form with the Eagles, outlasting the three tumultuous Chip Kelly seasons, and now watching the birth of a young star in Carson Wentz.
While never an incredible receiver, Celek's consistent production, good character, and relentless toughness as a blocker in the run game have endeared him to teammates and fans alike. He signed a team-friendly contract extension during the 2016 offseason, and it looks like the popular tight end will finish out his NFL career in the same city it started.
10 Hated it: Nnamdi Asomugha
One of the most head-scratchingly disappointing free agents in years, Nnamdi Asomugha joined the Eagles in 2011 after a dominant run with the Oakland Raiders earned him a reputation as perhaps the best shutdown corner in the league. After signing a five-year, $60 million deal during the notorious "Dream Team" offseason, Asomugha never returned close to the form he displayed as a Raider.
The corner frequently looked lost in the Eagles system and did not gel at all with his teammates, with reports coming out that Asomugha preferred to eat his lunch alone in his car during practices rather with his teammates. He was cut during the 2013 offseason and remains a cautionary tale to teams looking for free-agent cornerbacks. Talk about a long wolf among the team. This doesn't work in football.
9 Loved it: Darren Sproles
Another consistent fan-favorite, Darren Sproles has been a perfect fit in every Eagles scheme he's been a part of. Standing just 5'6", the shifty back is the ultimate role player, embracing his share of touches and threatening as a runner, receiver, and returner. This triple threat aspect makes Sproles one dangerous football player.
Current coach Doug Pederson loves the guy, and his veteran presence on the team fits in perfectly with the culture Philadelphia is trying to build. The 33-year-old has enjoyed a longer career than most backs due to his selective usage, and has quietly racked up the eighth-most career all-purpose-yards in league history. Sproles will return to the Eagles for one last season in 2017, before calling it quits on a remarkable career.
8 Hated it: Brandon Boykin
Brandon Boykin is an athletic freak who excited Eagle's fans when he was drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 draft. His career seemed to be off to a good start, with some exciting plays his rookie season and six interceptions in 2013, but things went downhill for him fast.
During the Chip Kelly tenure, Boykin saw less and less playing time and clearly did not like the coach, criticizing his methods and going as far to say Chip Kelly was uncomfortable around "grown men of our culture." Unhappy with his role on the team, Boykin was traded to the Steelers, where he failed to make an impact and was later released. So, was it really Chip Kelly here or did Boykin simply flop as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles?
7 Loved it: Jeremiah Trotter
A fixture in the middle of Jim Johnson's defenses of the early 2000s, Jeremiah Trotter loved the Eagles organization, and the organization loved the hard-hitting middle linebacker. Despite being released and resigned several times over his career, the four-time Pro Bowler insisted nothing compared to his time in Philly.
“I thank God every day that I spent a majority of my career in Philadelphia,” Trotter said in an interview. “You talk about a first-class organization; you talk about a fan base that is the greatest in the National Football League...that’s my home."
Trotter was inducted into the Eagle's Hall of Fame last year. Trotter and the Eagles may have seen a few ups and downs over the years but presence in Philadelphia will remain with the team.
6 Hated it: DeMarco Murray
When the Eagles brought in their rival Cowboy's superstar running back during the 2015 offseason, it was hailed as an amazing move by analysts and Eagle's fans. The team both bolstered their weak running back situation and stuck a dagger into Cowboy's fans hearts as they poached away their hard-running star.
However, Murray's year under Chip Kelly was nothing short of a complete disaster. Kelly insisted on running Murray to the outside with a variety of poorly designed shotgun sweep and zone-read plays that frustrated Murray and fans alike. After a disappointing 702 yard season, the former rushing leader was traded for the Titans and is currently much happier with his role there as a bruising downhill runner.
5 Loved it: Donovan McNabb
Let's be clear: Donovan McNabb has had more than his share of rough treatment by the Eagles media and fanbase. However, the resilient quarterback unquestionably made his mark as one of the team's all-time greats with an electrifying career.
Booed from day one, McNabb displayed mental toughness not many have and managed to overcome a ton of adversity during his career. With a great relationship with coach Andy Reid and enough Philadelphia fans in his corner, McNabb led the Eagles to five NFC championship games.
"Number 5 will always love you," he told cheering fans as his number was retired at a game in 2013. Despite never getting the Eagles the Super Bowl win he desperately craved, McNabb's 11 years with the team are full of plenty of good memories for both him and the fanbase that remembers him fondly.
4 Hated it: Terrell Owens
Owen's career with the Eagles was brief, flashy, and full of controversy and drama. The 49ers signed with Philly in 2014 and quickly became a fan favorite with the Eagles during their Super Bowl run. However, the relationship went south quickly as he questioned Donovan McNabb's fitness in their loss to Tom Brady and the Patriots.
The offseason got worse as Owens and his new agent, Drew Rosenhaus, demanded a new contract in what was a toxic negotiation period. Owens continued to publicly voice his displeasure. Owens was suspended, and later deactivated for the remainder of the season. The following offseason, he was released and went to the rival Dallas Cowboys.
Owens said in an interview if he could do it all again he would never have signed with the Eagles.
3 Loved it: Michael Vick
Michael Vick is one of the most compelling sports stories in the 21st century. He was a beloved superstar in Atlanta before news of his involvement in a dog fighting ring went public and he was sentenced to prison. Roundly blasted by fans and media alike, the Eagles made the controversial choice to give Vick a second chance in the NFL following his release from prison in 2009. The rest is history. Vick got his shot when starter Kevin Kolb went down with an injury during the 2010 season and, surrounded by playmakers on offense, led the Eagles on one of their most exciting seasons in team history and was named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
While eventually losing his job to Nick Foles, Vick enjoyed a solid stint with the Eagles and has Andy Reid and owner Jeffery Lurie to thank for resurrecting not only his football career but his public perception as well. While some may never forgive him, Vick came clean, apologized for his crimes, and has been a changed man ever since.
2 Hated it: LeSean McCoy
Brian Westbrook's replacement, McCoy's running style reminded many of Barry Sanders. With his physics-defying cuts, explosive speed, and big play ability, "Shady" McCoy was a centerpiece of the Eagles offense for several years.
As happened with many Eagles players, however, things soured under Chip Kelly, who eventually traded away McCoy to the Buffalo Bills during the 2015 offseason. Kelly and Shady never had a good relationship, with McCoy insinuating that Chip could be racist based on the way he got rid of "all the good black players". The rocky relationship resulted in an almost complete lack of communication during the offseason where McCoy was traded, resulting in McCoy feeling blindsided and disrespected by the trade.
McCoy's feud with Kelly turned what was a promising Eagles career into a rocky one, and the talented running back has long since moved on from Philadelphia.
1 Loved it: Brian Dawkins
Ask any Eagles fan to name their top three favorite all-time players, and you can guarantee they will all mention Brian Dawkins at some point. Nicknamed "Weapon X", the passionate, hard-hitting safety truly embraced and embodied the city of Philadelphia during his thirteen years with the team.
Dawkins' list of accolades is impressive, with nine Pro Bowl appearances and six All-Pro nods, but his aggressive play, energy, and character endeared him to fans and elevated him to legendary status. Dawkins devoted his time in Philadelphia to building relationships with fans and teammates, and no one in the entire city can speak ill of Number 20.
Dawkins is not only an example of an Eagle player embracing his city, but stands out across sports as having one of the most unique and passionate relationships with his city and his fan base.
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