So where do you stand on this year’s Eagles?
The squad is as talented as any that I’ve ever seen. If you go down the roster and look at each of the positions, they’ve got people who have the ability to dominate at almost every spot.
Where do you think they’ll stack up?
I can’t give you an exact number, but I expect this team to be a double-digit-win team and to get into the playoffs. Then it’s a matter of being hot. We saw the Giants barely get in last year—and I mean barely get in—but they got hot. Once you get there, it’s a whole new season.
People had big hopes last year.
Part of the problem was the lockout, but everybody had to deal with that. Other teams didn’t have to deal with a new defensive coordinator who hadn’t been a defensive coordinator in the past. That was a tall task for any team.
You’ve been involved with the Eagles for 30 years now. Is there any one moment that stands out for you?
It was after I broke my leg playing against the Houston Oilers. It was in the first half, and I was going up for a pass in the end zone. I go up and make a circus catch and come down, and the safety hit me and broke my fibula. I went in and got the cast put on, and rather than sit in the locker room for the second half, I wanted to come out and watch the game. When I came out of the tunnel and onto the sideline on my crutches, the place just erupted. That appreciation, for me as a player, was big.
The fans can also get pretty vocal when they’re disappointed. Especially in a season like last year’s. Is that something the players notice?
Yeah, absolutely. They notice the tone of the fans. If the players give ’em something to cheer about, then they’re going to hear the other side of the fans. Fans here will wait for the players, because they want to see them do well and want the team to give them something to scream and cheer about.
Are you an all-around fan of Philly teams, or do you have other allegiances?
Although I haven’t had much to cheer about with the Sixers, I’m a huge basketball fan, and they’re my favorite team. I’m not a big baseball guy, but when I pay attention, it’s the Phillies. Not a big hockey fan, but when I turn it on, it’s the Flyers.
So are you happy about the Sixers’ Andrew Bynum deal?
I love it. You finally get back to where you’ve got a guy in the post, and you know that’s where the offense will begin. Now you’ll start to see the Sixers become one of those teams, like when I came to Philadelphia in ’82. I loved going to the Spectrum.
Do you miss the old arena?
I kind of miss that whole time. I couldn’t wait to go to the Spectrum to see Doc and Mo Cheeks and Bobby Jones. Growing up in North Carolina, I was obviously a big basketball fan. Finally being able to be around these guys and watch them play … there was nothing like it.
This story originally appeared in the October issue of Philadelphia magazine.