(6 points) Just how underrated is Byron Evans? His wikipedia entry contains exactly 2 sentences about his career with the Eagles, and one of those talks about how he was overlooked as a defender. But his value is best summed up in this article by Reuben Frank last year about (what else?) how underrated Byron Evans was:
He didn’t pile up sacks like Reggie. He didn’t shut down tight ends like Seth. He didn’t fly across the field and obliterate wideouts who dared venture across the middle like Wes and Andre. And he didn’t make historic interceptions like E.A. All he did was effectively stuff running backs and clog up the middle, which let all the other guys roam around and make all those big plays.
And unlike teammates like Jerome Brown, Allen and Joyner, who had ebullient personalities, Byron was very, very quiet. He was the one guy on that defense that preferred to let his play do the talking.
From 1989-1992, Evans was a beast on defense, averaging 145.5 tackles per year. He was the signal caller and defensive captain of a defense that included Clyde Simmons, Jerome Brown, and Reggie White. He was smart enough to not only play the most demanding position of Buddy Ryan’s complex 46 defense, but to master it. And lastly, you have to give him points for the Beanie Wiggle.
Evans now teaches high school and coaches football in Arizona. Here he is interviewed a few months ago, talking about how much he enjoys coaching and teaching.
A few parameters before we kick this thing off. First of all, these are 15 athletes we think are underrated by fans of Philadelphia. Not nationally. There are a couple who might even be overrated nationally, but locally don’t get the love they deserve. As far as how we scored it…we took each person who is a part of the site: myself, Lalli, and our host, Art from Foobooz, to list their 12 most underrated Philly athletes of all time. We then gave them each a point total (#1 got 12 points, #2 got 11, and so on) and added up the points. In case of a tie, I pulled an executive decision. We begin today, with #15. There were a number of guys who one of had listed, but who didn’t get enough points. The honorable mentions are:
Eddie Collins (5 points)
Jim Eisenreich (5 points)
Todd Pinkston (5 points)
Bernard Hopkins (4 points)
Rick MacLeish (3 points)
Mark Howe (2 points)
Sami Kapanen (1 point)
Manny Trillo (1 point)
Now let’s start with our list. We certainly are looking for feedback on this…through twitter, on facebook and in the comments. Please, please feel free to argue and make a case for guys you think should be on this list. This is a discussion, not something we want to cram down your throats. Let the countdown begin!
On Sunday, at the age of 74, former Philadelphia sports broadcaster Andy Musser passed away in his Wynnewood home. Over the course of his career, Musser called games for the Eagles, Sixers and Villanova basketball, but his work in the broadcast booth for the Phillies defined his time in Philadelphia. From 1976 to 2001, Musser was one of the voices of Phillies baseball. Never the main guy, but always there in the background supporting Richie Ashburn or Harry Kalas. When I say always there, I mean it…the guy missed only 2 games during that 26-year span (both with laryngitis).
His most memorable call came late in the 1980 regular season, when Mike Schmidt hit a home run to defeat the Expos and clinch the NL East crown.
There have been a lot of articles written over the past two days about Musser’s life and his career, but none better than Tyler Kepner’s piece for the NY Times Baseball Blog published last night. You should read the whole thing, but the introduction makes clear the type of guy Andy Musser was:
Whenever I write a long feature story, I try to quote everyone I interviewed. I feel like I owe it to them, for helping me. I’ve been interviewed for stories but left out of the article, and it’s not a good feeling.
About three years ago, I wrote a piece on the epic 23-22 game between the Phillies and the Cubs in 1979. I talked to one of the broadcasters, Andy Musser, who died on Monday at age 74. I quoted Andy only once in the story – and once more in a blog entry – and I felt bad about that.
I shouldn’t have. A few days after the article appeared, a postcard arrived in my mail box:
“Tyler, Nice job on the 23-22 game yesterday. You really worked hard on it and brought back many memories for me. Thanks for the mention. Cordially, Andy.”
After his retirement in 2001, Andy Musser became the Philly Beer Ambassador for Anchor Brewing Company out of San Francisco. Musser was a lover of craft beers and used his down time on the road with the Phillies to tour breweries all over the country.
Baseball and beer. Not a bad life for one of the voices that brought us Philadelphia sports.
Dr. Dunkenstein turns 55 today. Great piece above on him shattering the two backboards. True story: a few years ago when he played on the Sixers, Kyle Korver played quizzo with some friends at the Black Sheep. His team name? Vanilla Thunder. No kidding. Pretty great.
We’re gonna be working on a new project over the next couple of weeks, and we’re going to need your help. We want to come up with a list of the 20 most underrated athletes in Philadelphia sports history…athletes who are underrated by Philadelphians. In other words, not players that people slept on nationally, but guys who should be a lot better known right here in Philly, where they played. (We’ve already written about a few guys who will probably make the list, like Del Ennis and Joe Frazier.) They can be Phillies, Eagles, Flyers, Sixers, Warriors, A’s, boxers, college athletes, tennis players, bocce sensations, etc. So please post in the comments or on our facebook page or by sending us a note on twitter. Thanks! We’ll start posting the list on Wednesday after we hear your suggestions and discuss amongst ourselves.
On January 6, 1980, the Flyers and Sabres were knotted at 2 heading into the third period. Just 3 minutes and 45 seconds into the final period, Bill Barber scored on Buffalo goaltender Don Edwards to give the Flyers a 3-2 lead. A lead which the Flyers would not relinquish. While a win in January doesn’t usually amount to much when looking at the NHL regular season as a whole, Barber’s game winning goal on this date 22 years ago elevated the ’79-’80 Flyers to a place no other professional sports team has ever, or will ever reach.
The win over Buffalo marked the 35th game in a row in which the Flyers were unbeaten, the longest such streak in professional sports. After a 1-1 start, “The Streak” started with a win in the 3rd game of the regular season. On October 14th, 1979 the Flyers beat the Leafs at home on a late goal from Bob Kelly. For the next 84 days, the Flyers would not lose.
Over the course of The Streak, the Flyers won 25 games and tied 10. They played every team in the league, except the Washington Capitals, earning at least one point in each contest. On December 9th, the Flyers tied the Blackhawks 4-4 pushing the streak to 24 and surpassing the previous team record of 23. On December 22nd, they went to the Boston Garden, a building in which the Flyers hadn’t won in nearly 5 years. However, the tear continued and the Flyers dominated en route to a 5-2 win and their 29th straight game without a defeat. This win set a new NHL record. The previous record (28 games) was held by the ’77-’78 Montreal Canadiens.
Finally, on January 7, 1980, the Flyers streak came to an end in a 7-1 defeat at the hands of the Minnesota North Stars
Credit for the streak lays mainly with the Flyers goaltending. In this case, it was the tandem of Phil Myre and rookie Pete Peeters who carried the team through almost 3 months of unbeaten play. Myre and Peeters shared duties, with a virtual even split in starts during the 35 game streak. Fittingly, both played in the 35th game against the Sabres as Myre started but became ill and needed to be replaced by Peeters. Offensively, Ken Linseman, Reggie Leach, and rookie Brian Propp led the way.
If you watched HBO’s 24/7 series on the Flyers and Rangers Road to the Winter Classic, you got to see the teams celebrate the New Year. For some reason, I imagine watching the ’79-’80 Flyers ring in the New Year 33 games into their streak with with only 1 loss would have been much more entertaining.
The players were different, but the similarities were freakishly similar between Philly’s last two 8-8 teams.
- In 2011, Eagles starter Michael Vick threw for 3,303 yards. In 2007, the Eagles starter, Donovan McNabb, threw for 3,324 yards, a difference of 21 yards. Michael Vick threw for 18 TDs and ran for one for a total of 19. McNabb threw for 19 TDs and ran for zero.
- Vince Young filled in for 3 games, threw 4 TDs and had 9 Ints. In 2007, AJ Feeley filled in for 2 1/2 games. He threw for 5 TDs and 8 Ints. Young had a Cmp% of 57.9. Feeley’s % was 57.3. Feeley ‘s two losses as starter (he went 0-2) were to the Seahawks and the Patriots. Vince Young’s two losses as starter (he went 1-2) were to the Seahawks and the Patriots.
- In 2007, Brian Westbrook led the team with 1,333 yards rushing. He was the 2nd leading rusher in the NFC. LeSean McCoy led the team in 2011 with 1,309 yards, a 24 yard difference. He was also the 2nd leading rusher in the NFC.
- In both years, the Eagles beat the Jets, Dolphins, Cowboys, Redskins, and Giants and lost to the Seahawks, Bears, Giants, and Patriots.
- In 2007, the Eagles held a 3-point lead heading into the 4th quarter against the Bears but blew it to fall 2 games below .500. In 2011, the Eagles held a 4-point lead heading into the 4th quarter against the Bears but blew it to fall 2 games below .500.
- The 2007 Eagles defense was 9th in points allowed. The 2011 Eagles were 10th in points allowed.
- Their primary kick returner in 2007 (Correll Buckhalter) averaged 21.6 yards per return. Their primary kick returner in 2011 (Dion Lewis) averaged 21.6 yards per return.
- Their kicker in 2007 (David Akers) made 24 field goals. Their field goal kicker in 2011 (Alex Henery) made 24 field goals.
- And of course in both years this team proved that nobody is better with the pressure off. In 2007, with the playoffs out of the question, they won the final 3 games of the season to finish 8-8 and save Andy Reid’s job. In 2011, with the playoffs out of the question, they won the final 4 games of the season to finish 8-8 and save Andy Reid’s job.
- (One final, kind of funny note: remember how much Reno Mahe drove us nuts in 2007 for being so bad at returning punts? He was actually quite a bit better than DeSean was this year. He averaged 8 yards per return. DeSean averaged 6.7.)
If you liked this column, be sure to check out Why We Hate Dallas, the story of the Philly pro basketball team funded by cocaine money, and our more or less insane coverage of the 1911 World Series presenting as if it were live.