Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Philadelphia Eagles

As promised (although more than a year late) the winners of Super Bowl LII – The Philadelphia Eagles. Here is the 1968 edition, about as far from a Super Bowl champion as you can get.

The Eagles started off the 1968 season by losing their first 11 games (by a combined score of 310-144). I don't think tanking was a thing back then, like it is in the NBA now. (The Philadelphia 76ers intentionally tanked 3 consecutive seasons, and still managed to screw it up – drafting a series of players with known injury histories. Only Joel Embid remains as a tanking prize, and he can’t stay in the lineup for extended periods. But I digress.)

The Eagles could have stayed the course with their unintentional tanking, by making it all about “playing the youngsters to see what we have to build for the future”, but noooo, they had to go and win 2 of their final 3 games, thus blowing their chance for the #1 overall draft pick in 1969 (O.J. Simpson).

Instead they settled for the 3rd pick, and chose Leroy Keyes, a running back from Purdue. Even THAT was a screw-up, as the Steelers selected Joe Greene with the very next pick. Keyes had 2 poor seasons as a running back, followed by 2 less-than-serviceable seasons as a strong safety before they finally cut him loose.

1968 was the first year Topps issued cards for NFL players since 1963, so their first series cards have old photographs for the NFL players (and presumably newer photos for AFL players). In the 2nd series, new photos are seen.

Norm Snead was the team's quarterback from 1964-1970, acquired from the Redskins in a questionable deal for Sonny Jurgensen.

Gary Ballman was acquired from the Steelers just before the 1967 season for fullback Earl Gros and guard Bruce Van Dyke. He was a starting wide receiver in '67 and '68, and the starting tight end from 1969-71.

Mike Ditka was also acquired just before the 1967 season, from the Bears for 3rd-string QB Jack Concannon. He was the starter in 1967, but spent most of 1968 either injured or suspended for his skirmishes with the coaching staff. Ditka was traded to the Cowboys before the 1969 season.

Sam Baker came over from the Cowboys in 1964, and was the kicker from 1964-69, and punter from 1964-68.

Don Hultz was acquired from the Vikings before the 1964 season, and was the starting left end from 1965-67. After 2 seasons on the bench, he was also the starting left DT from 1970-72. (There's no evidence he ever played linebacker.) After one more season on the bench, he finished up with the Bears in 1974.

After a few seasons with the Browns and Lions, Floyd Peters was the Eagles' starting left tackle from 1964-69, though missing part of 1968 with injuries. He made 3 Pro Bowls while an Eagle. Peters ended his career with the Redskins in 1970.

Like Peters, Dave Lloyd also played for the Browns and Lions before becoming an Eagle in 1963. He was the team's starting middle linebacker from 1963-69, and for the first 5 games of 1970 before he was replaced by Tim Rossovich. Dave made the Pro Bowl in his final full season (1969).

Nate Ramsey was the Eagles' 14th-round pick in 1963. He played in all but 6 games for the Eagles from 1963-72, starting about half the games in '63 and '64 as a cornerback, before moving to starting strong safety from 1965-70. He returned to cornerback for 1971-72, then played for the Saints in 1973.

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