The correct answer to this awesome trivia question? Walt Masters, born on March 28th, 1907 in Pen Argyle (near Easton). Masters was a Philly boy, though, graduating from West Philly High School and then attending the Wharton School at Penn. He played baseball and football at Penn, and was a star at both.
Masters made his MLB debut for the Washington Senators on July 9th, 1931, when he pitched an inning in a 14-1 blowout over the Red Sox. He pitched twice more that year, and then disappeared from baseball. He was also making money as a semi-pro football player, and baseball didn’t allow people to play other sports in the US. Masters tried to get around the rule by moving to Canada and playing for the Rough Riders (those Penn kids are a sneaky bunch aren’t they?) But the Rough Riders wouldn’t let him play football because they were amateurs and he had gotten paid for baseball, so he coached football and played baseball for an Ottawa team for a few years. He returned to Philly in 1936 and played briefly for the Eagles at QB. He went 1-6 for 11 yards with one INT, and ran 7 times for 18 yards. After the season, he signed with the Phillies and was on the team briefly in 1937. He didn’t have much more success on the diamond, where the pitcher appeared in one game and got blasted for 4 earned runs in a single inning of work against the Reds. Two years later, he would reappear on the Philadelphia A’s (making him also the answer to the question, “Who is the only player to play for the A’s, Phillies, and Eagles?”) He pitched in 4 games and finished the year with a 6.55 ERA.
During the war, former sports stars were in high demand, so in 1943 the 36-year old Masters played a few games for the Chicago Cardinals. He wasn’t very good, going 17-45, 249 yards, with 2 TDs and 7 Ints. He tossed 7 more passes for the Cards in 1944, and then was out of pro sports for good. He returned to Ottawa, where he played both football and baseball. He then worked in public relations for a company specializing in cleaning buildings in Ottawa. He died in Canada in 1992 at the age of 85.
(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.
Desean Jackson’s Nestea Plunge.
Wilbert Montgomery 42-yard run to send the Eagles to the Super Bowl.
Donovan McNabb scrambles for 14 seconds and launches the ball 60 yards on the run to Freddie Mitchell.
James Willis intercepts Aikman in the end zone, then laterals to Troy Vincent who takes it the rest of the way to seal the Eagles win.
Buddy gets revenge on the Cowboys by having Randall fake a kneel down and throw a bomb late in a win over the Cowboys.
The Eagles stop Emmitt twice. The Cowboys go for it on 4th and 1. The Eagles stop them, but the refs say that the play didn’t count because it was the 2 minute warning. The Cowboys run Emmitt again, and the Eagles stop him again, then kick the winning field goal.
With the Eagles taking on the Jets on Sunday, it is interesting to note that the Birds are 8-0 all time against the Jets. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been some great games between these two teams however. Probably the greatest came in 1993, in yet another Miracle at the Meadowlands.
The two teams both entered that game in Week 4 at the Meadowlands ready to make a statement. The Eagles were 3-0 and according to the New York Times, looked like a “sure fire playoff contender”. The Jets were 2-1 and looking to compete with the mighty Bills in the AFC East. It was the game of the week, complete with the “A-Team” of John Madden and Pat Summerall announcing. (Here is a pretty fun look at the rosters of the two teams in this matchups piece in the 1993 Inquirer. Lots of guys you had probably forgotten about on the Jets, like Blair Thomas, Johnny Johnson, and Rob Moore.)
The game started out disastrously for the Eagles. Boomer Esiason, the Jets quarterback, unloaded two TDs early to Johnny Mitchell and one to James Thronton. The Eagles found themselves in a 21-0 hole. ANd then things got worse. Randall Cunningham broke his fibula early in the 2nd quarter, and the Eagles had to insert Bubby Brister. Brister actually played well, and the Eagles got back into the game on an 8 yard TD rush from Herschel Walker and a 10-yard TD pass to Mark Bavaro. The score at the half was 21-14 Jets.
In the 3rd quarter, Johnny Mitchell scored his 3rd TD of the game, and the Jets took a 28-14 lead. But Bubby Brister wasn’t done. He threw an 11 yard TD pass to Calvin Williams, then in the 4th Vaughn Hebron tied it with a one yard plunge. But Brister was called for intentional grounding in the end zone a few minutes later, and the Jets took a 30-28 lead. They were then driving for what would be the winning TD when fate intervened. Boomer Esiason tried to complete a pass to WR Chris Burkett. Eric Allen jumped in front of it, and the rest is history, and one of the greatest plays in Philadelphia Eagles history.
It was to be the last hurrah for the Eagles that season. It turned out that Randall was done for the year, and while Bubby filled in admirably, he then got hurt. That’s when the wheels came off. In stepped Ken O’Brien, and the team collapsed. Between Brister and O’Brien, the team lost their next 6 games, and 8 of their next 9. They righted the ship in December, winning their last 3, but by then it was too late. The Eagles finished 8-8, another year of “What might have been” had Randall not gotten hurt. The Jets went 8-8 as well.
When he played for the Chicago Bears, Jim McMahon was known as a brash loudmouth diva. But when he went to the Eagles in 1990, he made almost a complete turnaround. Suffering through a multitude of injuries, he instead got a rep for being tough as nails. And nowhere did he show that grittiness more than just over 20 years ago in a game against the Bill Belichick coached Cleveland Browns. The Eagles, who had lost starting QB Randall Cunningham in the first game of the season, came into the game 4-5, and McMahon had severe elbow problems that rendered him doubtful for the game.
McMahon had tried getting a shot of novocaine two days early, on the Friday before the game, but when he overdid it in practice later that day the elbow swelled badly. He couldn’t even bend it. On Sunday morning, a worried Heller awoke and asked McMahon if he could play. “No way,” said McMahon. Heller says McMahon was especially disappointed because he felt he could have picked the Browns apart. “But he was lying there just moaning,” Heller says. “He couldn’t even put up his ponytail!” But by noon that day, after his arm had been massaged for three hours to reduce the swelling around the elbow, McMahon was out on the field throwing spirals.
When the Browns, led by Bernie Kosar and a 39-year old rookie coach named Bill Belichick, went up 23-0 early in the 2nd quarter at old Municipal Stadium, it looked like the Eagles were done. But McMahon refused to quit. A touchdown pass to Keith Jackson, followed by a 70 yard strike to Fred Barnett, and the Birds cut the lead to 9. Bernie Kosar then led the Browns down the field, and the Browns tacked on another TD to take an incredible 30-17 lead at the half. The Eagles defense, ranked #1 in the NFL at the time, had been humiliated in the first half. But defensive coordinator Bud Carson made adjustments at halftime, and the D stormed the field in the 2nd half with something to prove. They completely shut down Kosar in the 2nd half, and held Kevin Mack to a mere 23 yards rushing for the game. Roger Ruzek field goals got the Eagles within striking distance, and with 5 minutes left in the game, McMahon hit Calvin Williams with a 5-yard strike. The Eagles took the lead 32-30, and that would be the final score. McMahon, whose elbow had been massaged, drained, salved, and injected with novacaine before the game, threw for 341 yards and 3 TDs in the win.
The Eagles, after starting the season 3-5, finished with 7 wins in their last 8 games (the only loss was with McMahon on the sidelines with an injury.) Sadly, that wasn’t enough to make the playoffs. The next year McMahon returned to the bench, then bounced around the league until 1996, when he backed up a young Brett Favre in Green Bay, then retired.
For Eagles fans, it’s death, taxes and hatred for the Cowboys. Despising America’s Team is instinctual, almost genetic. Just as our fathers passed down the “bleeding green” passion that turns the majority of fans into manic depressives on Sundays, they also imparted the feeling that we should hate Dallas above all others. We don’t know why, we just know we are supposed to hate them.
Sure, there’s no shortage of reasons to dislike the Cowboys (See Exhibits A, B, C, D, E and F), but I’ve always wondered why it’s them and not the Giants, or the Mets, or the Penguins, or the Celtics that hold that not-so-special place in our hearts. Luckily, Ray Didinger answered that question a few years ago on Comcast Sportsnet:
If you are a younger fan, you probably never heard about Dallas linebacker Lee Roy Jordan cheap-shotting the Eagles’ Timmy Brown and knocking out four of his teeth. That happened in 1967 and turned the rivalry into a blood feud.
The Cowboys and Eagles first met in 1960, but 1967 was the first year they were divisional rivals. That year, the National Football League Capitol Division (now known as the NFC East) was formed. It consisted of Philadelphia, Dallas, Washington and New Orleans, who would be replaced by the New York Giants in 1968.
The first meeting of the ’67 season took place on October 29 at Franklin Field and ended with a 21-14 Eagles victory. Other than a surprise onside kick that turned into an Eagles touchdown drive, the upset win was pretty uneventful. The same can’t be said for the second Eagles/Dallas game that year. It was December 10, 1967 and the 4-7-1 Eagles traveled to Dallas to take on the division leading 8-4 Cowboys. The Cowboys had already clinched the division, rendering the outcome of the game meaningless. But Dallas’ “doomsday defense” made it a statement game; a statement made at the expense of Timmy Brown’s jaw.
In ’66 Brown ran two kickoffs back for touchdowns in one game against Dallas, propelling the Eagles to a 24-23 win, so it’s not a stretch as to why Brown was a target. In fact, Brown was interviewed by Stan Hochman years later and said he received phone calls the morning of the game from some of the Dallas guys he knew telling him there was a contract on his head.
In the late stages of the game, with Dallas having dominated the Eagles and built a 31-3 lead, the Cowboys fired the first shot in the “blood feud” that exists to this day. The Eagles possessed the ball and a passing play in the flat for Brown. After quarterback Norm Snead’s pass sailed over his head, Timmy Brown slowed down and relaxed. And that’s when it happened: Dallas middle-linebacker Lee Roy Jordan, who was in Brown’s vicinity, dropped Brown with an elbow to the face mask well after the whistle sounded.
With Brown dazed on the ground, Jordan stepped over the injured Eagle, taunting him. The blow was significant; it fractured Brown’s jaw and loosened six of his teeth. Brown said, “I wound up eating nothing but liquids for a month and a half. Jordan got a 15-yard penalty and that’s all.”
The root of the hatred Philadelphians harbor towards the Cowboys, their coaches, their cheerleaders, their fans, their stadium and their colors was a cheap shot on Timmy Brown. “That,” Brown told philly.com in a story in 2013, ” started the rivalry.”
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The Daily News had the headline today that read, “Worst Weekend Ever.” Is that true? Well, I decided to look back on some previous baseball disappointments to see what the football team did that weekend. As far as I can tell, it looks like this weekend was the worst ever.
-On Sunday, September 20th, 1964, the Eagles fell to the 49ers 28-24. It hardly dampened the spirits of Philadelphians, however. The baseball team beat the Dodgers that day and had a 6 1/2 game lead with but 12 games left to play, and World Series tickets were beinng printed. On September 21st, Chico Ruiz stole home, and by the next weekend they were in a freefall. It certainly didn’t help the city’s mood when the Eagles fell to the Browns 28-20 on September 27th, the same day that the Phils lost the lead in the National League. The next Sunday, the 4th of October, the Phillies beat the Reds 10-0. It was too late, however, as the Cards won that evening to win the National League. It was of small consolation that the Birds beat the Steelers 21-7 that day.
-Friday, October 7th is known as Black Friday in Philadelphia, as the Phillies choked in the 9th inning of Game 3 of the NLCS against the Dodgers in 1977. They had a 5-3 lead with 2 outs in the 9th. But then Vic Davillo laid down a perfect bunt, Luzinski ran into the wall, Sizemore misplayed the throw in, the umps blew a call at first, and suddenly it was a tie game. An errant pickoff throw put Davey Lopes of the Dodgers at 2nd, and Bill Russell drove him in with a single. The Dodgers would win the game 6-5, and win the series in 4 games. Many people think that the ’77 team was the best Phillies team ever. Two days later, the Eagles would defeat the Giants 28-10 to go 2-2 on the season. They would end the year 5-9.
-On October 26th, 1993, Mitch Williams gave up that infamous home run to Joe Carter, allowing the Blue Jays to win the World Series. There was nothing to distract Philly sports fans from their misery, either. The Eagles had a bye week that week.
Other than winning a Super Bowl, David Akers has had one major goal throughout his career: to convince us all that he is a football player, not just a mere place-kicker. Maybe that was just part of his make-up, or maybe it was all the time he spent in Philadelphia. This is the town where work ethic and grit are paramount to performance and talent. Kicking field goals wasn’t good enough; he wanted to show us how tough he was.
During his time as and Eagle, he would throw his 5’10” – 190 lbs. frame into oncoming traffic covering kickoff returns, he would make diving tackles on returners, and he would beast opposing coaches and then mix-it up with opposing players…by himself, on their sideline. But it was one game against the Oakland Raiders that settled the argument, once and for all. Akers isn’t just a kicker.
On September 25, 2005, the 1-1 Eagles were home against the 0-2 Raiders. After the coin toss, the Rocky montage, and the fireworks, the Eagles lined up to kickoff to start the game. Akers approached the ball and just as he struck it, he collapsed to the ground and clutched the back of his right leg. A flag flew and a whistle was blown; the Birds were offside. Akers got off the ground, placed the ball on the tee, and limped back to his starting position. On the retry, Akers collapsed again, and the Eagles were offside again. This time Akers was taken off the field and trainers began working on his hamstring. Mike Bartum was sent in and booted the third attempt at the opening kickoff out of bounds.
Akers’ injury kept him on the sidelines. The trainers and coaching staff didn’t even think he could make an extra point. After a Brian Westbrook 18-yard touchdown run in the second half, Mark Simoneau was chosen to try the game-tying extra point. It wasn’t successful. The box score reflects that it was blocked, but in reality, Simoneau drilled the ball into the back of his teammate, Steve Spach. The Raiders led 10-6 at the half.
During halftime, Akers returned to the field with a heavily taped right leg and began trying extra-point length chip shots. He had to alter his stance, his approach, and his weight distribution in order to give the ball the best chance of eeking through the uprights and him the best chance of not ending up in a heap after each kick. It was clear he was in a lot of pain.
When the third quarter began, Donovan McNabb, who was battling through a sports hernia, got things going. A short touchdown pass to Terrell Owens gave the Eagles a 12-10 lead. Akers convinced the training staff and his coaches that he could make the extra point, so he limped out onto the field for the P.A.T. And he made it, giving the Eagles a three point lead. Then, after a Westbrook touchdown reception, Akers gingerly made another extra point to push the score to 20-10 at the end of the 3rd quarter. The lead wouldn’t hold; after a Janikowski field goal, the Raiders tied the game on a Doug Gabriel touchdown catch with 2:17 remaining in the game.
A touch back on the ensuing kickoff placed the Eagles on their own 20. With a healthy Akers, the Eagles would have only needed about 50 yards to get into range for a game-winning field goal. With a hobbled Akers, the Eagles were thinking end zone. “We wanted to score a touchdown, so we wouldn’t have to worry,” said Reid after the game. McNabb hit Westbrook on two consecutive passes to reach midfield, then Greg Lewis and T.O. chipped in catches and the Eagles found themselves on the 17 yard line with 31 seconds remaining. But they still weren’t in field goal range. After a Nnamdi Asomugha illegal contact penalty and then a T.O. 7-yard reception, McNabb spiked the ball with nine seconds remaining five yards from goal line.
The outcome of the game would rest on David Akers’ injured leg. And just like he had countless times before, the dependable Akers made another important field goal. He collapsed in pain again, but this time it was accompanied by celebration.
Said Mike Bartum after the game, “They call him a kicker, but he’s not a kicker. He’s a football player…A tough guy.”
Akers will receive a very warm welcome this Sunday at the Linc when he returns as a 49er. Not just because he holds the franchise records for points and field goals, but because he was more than just a kicker. He was a leader. A football player.
With the Eagles taking on the 49ers this Sunday, we look back at a memorable game between these two teams.
It was week 3 of the 1989 season, and the Eagles were taking on the 49ers at the Vet. The Niners were the defending champs, the Eagles were seen as a team on the rise. As one of the announcers said in the pregame show, “Could we be seeing the team of the 80s taking on the team of the 90s?” The Eagles had started the season 2-0, and were looking to go 3-0 for only the 3rd time since 1955. With a 28-17 lead with 8 minutes left in the 4th, it looked like all but a certainty. And then Joe Montana put on one of the greatest 4th quarter performances in NFL history. This from a 1989 article in SI:
Not counting the two plays in which he fell on the ball to run out the clock, the 49ers had the ball four times for a total of less than six minutes in the fourth quarter. In that time Montana completed 11 of 12 throws for 227 yards, including touchdown passes of 70, eight, 24 and 33 yards to wide receiver John Taylor, fullback Tom Rathman, tight end Brent Jones and wide receiver Jerry Rice, respectively. “You relish being in those situations,” the happy but typically blase Montana said afterward. Philadelphia had thought it was pretty good at winning this kind of game until it met the experts. The week before, the Eagles had scored 21 fourth-quarter points to beat the Washington Redskins 42-37. Now the same thing had happened to them. “The difference between our fourth quarter last week and this one?” said Eagle quarterback Randall Cunningham. ” Joe Montana.”
You can watch video of most of those last 8 minutes here, though you’ll have the listen to the insufferable Terry Bradshaw do color commentary. My God, he’s awful. Here’s a short video about that comeback on NFL.com. The 49ers would win the Super Bowl that year. The Eagles would lose in the wild card round to the Rams.
With the Eagles facing Atlanta this Sunday night, let’s take a look back at the one Eagles/Falcons game that stands above all others: The 2004 NFC Championship game. It’s a game I will always remember; hell, it’s a game every Eagles fan who was around will always remember. It isn’t so much the game itself though, it is what the game meant to this city.
It’s crazy how different the sports psyche of this town was in 2004 than it is now. We all know the history. Philadelphia hadn’t seen a championship since ’83 and was in the longest such streak for any city with 4 major sports teams. This was when Philly sports teams were cursed; we couldn’t win. Even Smarty Jones fell short. The Eagles were no different. The Reid-McNabb led Eagles had made the NFC title game in 2001 and lost to the favored Rams. The next year, the Birds again made it to the conference championship game, but were stunned by the Buccaneers in the last game at Veterans Stadium. Then in 2003, the Eagles gave us 4th and 26th in the divisional game against the Packers only to lose horribly in the NFC title game against the Panthers at home.
For a franchise that hadn’t been to the Super Bowl in more than 20 years, ending the season one game short in 2002 and 2003 left the entire city in a collective clinical depression. These losses were devastating. Remember, this was when the entire city lived and died with the Eagles; it was long before the rediscovered love affair with the Phillies sparked back up. Philadelphians were invested in the Eagles, and they had perpetually let us down just when we were on the brink of the promised land.
In the offseason prior to the 2004 campaign, Jeremiah Trotter came home and the Eagles added two key free agents in Javon Kearse and a little-known, quiet, role player receiver from Tenneessee Chattanooga. After a blistering 13-1 start, the Eagles rested their starters for the final two games of the year. With a bye in the first round and then an easy home win against the Vikings, the Birds again found themselves one win away from the Super Bowl as a home favorite in the NFC Championship Game. Their opponent would be the Atlanta Falcons.
The game was played Sunday, January 23, 2005…just after a blizzard blew through Philadelphia leaving 2 feet of snow and 17 degree temperatures with brutal 25 mph winds. (Note: The snow was a good omen. The Eagles won their first championship in 1948 at Shibe Park in a blizzard. The weather was so bad that fans were given free entry into the game if they brought a shovel and helped clear the field.) With those conditions, neither team could rely too much on the passing game and if the Eagles were going to finally get to the Super Bowl, they would need to limit Mike Vick’s game-breaking plays.
After winning the toss, the Eagles decided to kick and put their defense on the field first. Andy Reid was confident in Jim Johnson’s scheme, which clearly focused much more on containing Vick than it did blitzing. Jevon Kearse and Derrick Burgess played the edges and didn’t let Vick loose. After forcing a quick three-and-out, the Eagles drove downfield to the Atlanta 29 where they failed on a fake field goal attempt to Chad Lewis and turned the ball over on downs. After a 34-yard-drive, Atlanta was forced to punt at the Eagles 38 with a chance to really pin the Birds deep. Swirling winds wreaked havoc on Chris Mohr though, who could only manage an 8-yard punt. The Birds took advantage with a 70-yard drive that featured a 36-yard run by #36 and ended with a 4-yard TD plunge by Dorsey Levens, who was pushed into the endzone by Jermaine Mayberry.
On the ensuring possession, Atlanta took 9 minutes off the clock driving to the Eagles 2 with a 1st and goal. With their backs against the wall, Jim Johnson’s bend-but-don’t-break defense came alive. On first down, the Birds stuffed T.J. Duckett for a loss. On second down, Michael Lewis blitzed and knocked down a Vick pass attempt. On 3rd and goal from the 4, Vick dropped back to pass, saw nobody open, and took off up the middle towards the end-zone. That’s when Hollis Thomas made the first big defensive play of the game when he launched himself at Vick and planted him at the line of scrimmage. A Jay Feely field goal made the score 7-3.
The Eagles answered with a drive of their own that was kept alive by Donovan McNabb. On a 3rd and 11 at the Eagles 40, McNabb eluded three defenders in the pocket and then fired to Freddie Mitchell for a first down. Then, a long completion on an underthrown ball to Greg Lewis put the Eagles on the Atlanta 4. McNabb capped the drive with a TD pass on a play-action to Chad Lewis for a 14-3 lead.
When the Falcons got the ball back with about 5 minutes left in the first half, they got their running game going a bit. Then Vick completed a long pass to Alge Crumpler at the Eagles 10, who was absolutely annihilated by Brian Dawkins, but somehow held onto the ball. Warrick Dunn then raced for a TD through the middle to bring the Falcons within 4 points at halftime.
The Eagles opened up the second-half with a 60-yard drive (Westbrook accounted for 48 of those yards) that ended in a David Akers FG to increase the lead to 17-10. From this point on, the Eagles defense played to perfection. Burgess and Kearse didn’t allow Vick any freedom and Trotter and co. stopped Dunn from any significant gains. Vick was sacked a total of 4 times and he lost more yards on those sacks than he gained through scrambling.
After both teams traded punts, the Falcons started on their own 10-yard line with 3 minutes left in the third quarter. On 1st down, Dawkins picked off Vick and took the ball to the 11-yard line. However, Atlanta stood strong and forced the Eagles to settle for another David Akers field goal and a 20-10 lead.
The Eagles entered the 4th quarter with a lead in the NFC Championship Game, something they hadn’t done in their previous three appearances. The defense continued to limit Vick and the Atlanta offence. Burgess picked up his second sack of the day on an incredible open-field, one-on-one tackle on Vick. After two straight Falcon drives ended in punts, the Eagles got the ball on their own 35 yard-line 10 football minutes away from the Super Bowl. Reid and McNabb would orchestrate their best drive of the day. An 11-play, seven-minute drive ending in another Chad Lewis TD reception put the Eagles up 27-10 with less than 3 and a half minutes remaining.
That deal-sealing touchdown started the party. The crowd at the Linc didn’t sit down the entire second-half, but it was much nerves than excitement. That changed when Chad Lewis hauled in that pass. The crowd erupted in pure, unadulterated elation. A weight had been lifted off the Eagles and off this city. Finally. Chants of “Super Bowl! Super Bowl! Super Bowl!” went on for what seemed like forever. Grown men hugging and high-fiving and crying and watching the clock count down to 00:00. As I said before, I’ll never forget it.