Wednesday, June 25, 2014

It's always sunny at the Great Sports Name Hall of Fame (Eagles Quad)

Quad after quad after quad after quad lately.  I know variety is the spice of life, but quads are kind of all I've got for new stuff at the moment.  So...the posts continue!  Hopefully I'll grab a Shyrone Stith or something soon to vary stuff up for ya'll.
McNabb is a guy who everyone knows, but it's still crazy how good he was and how underrated he'll likely end up.  He was the 2nd pick of the 1999 draft (but don't remind the Cleveland Browns, who picked Tim Couch first), and is the career leader in all QB stats by a decent margin over guys like Daunte Culpepper and Aaron Brooks.  One of McNabb's biggest skills was that he didn't throw a ton of interceptions - he actually threw just 117 to Culpepper's 106 despite having 2200+ more attempts than Culpepper.  That's really impressive, and McNabb's career interception rate of 2.2% is 4th all time.  McNabb also is 4th in career rushing yards among his draft class, finishing a few hundred yards behind Kevin Faulk (and then several thousand behind Edgerrin James and Ricky Williams).

His lasting legacy is Jim Kelly-like in nature though - lots of winning records and playoff success, but not enough to win a championship.  The Eagles went to the NFC Championship again and again but only made it to the Super Bowl once, and when they did the Patriots took care of business.  So it'll be interesting to see what the Hall of Fame thinks of McNabb when his name comes up.  On the one hand, outstanding personal statistics and regular season success.  On the other hand, no Super Bowls and a weak tail end of his career that wrapped up in Washington and Minnesota.

Chad Lewis was undrafted in the 1997 draft, which was very TE heavy and also included past Quad mentionables Itula Mili, Tony Gonzalez, and Greg Clark.  Lewis ended up one of the better TE from 1997, but his career started quietly enough with just 20 receptions for 182 yards in his first three seasons (although he did win a Super Bowl ring with the 1999 St. Louis Rams).  Lewis came back to Philly in 2000 and proceeded to go on a dominant three year stretch where he made the Pro Bowl each year and became one of the NFC's premiere pass catching tight ends.  By 2003 and 2004 he started to slow, and then by 2005 Lewis was a backup to L.J. Smith.  Such is life in the NFL for a tight end, but it's still very impressive that he made three straight Pro Bowls after going undrafted.  Since his time in the NFL, Lewis has been an NFL ambassador to China, which is pretty darn awesome.

Brian Mitchell is straight up historic, though he's always been a weird guy to peg given his non-traditional contributions to the game.  Mitchell is 2nd all time in all purpose yards and 1st in most kick return and punt return categories.  He is, quite simply, the best all around kick/punt returner in the history of the game (Dante Hall, Devin Hester, and Josh Cribbs, among others, have an argument for one or the other, but no one else did both as effectively or for as long as Mitchell did).  He did most of his damage as a 5th round 1990 draft pick of the Redskins, with his only Pro Bowl nod and several All Pro nods coming during his 10 seasons in Washington.  But Mitchell wasn't too bad in his three years as an Eagle, where he had a career high 85 yard run and added four return touchdowns to his resume.  The New York Giants gave Mitchell a swan song year in 2003 at the age of 35, but Mitchell posted career low averages in both kick return and punt return average and retired after the season was over.  Still though, to be a dual returner threat for 13+ years in the league is fairly unprecedented, as most guys give up one kind of return or the other far sooner than that due to loss of skills over time.

The last guy on this card, Todd Pinkston, was a 2nd round pick in the 2000 draft.  He finished 8th among his draft class in career receiving yards, smack dab between Peter Warrick and TE Bubba Franks.  The Eagles went to the playoffs in every one of the five seasons that Pinkston started a game, and while he only started one game in his rookie year Pinkston then started 61 of the next 64 games as he became a key cog in Philly's offense.  He was never really that good statistically, but he was fairly consistent and certainly helped keep Philly a winning team.  Pinkston probably would've continued his success but he had a pretty severe achilles injury that knocked him out for the whole 2005 season and hampered his preseason in 2006.  The Eagles cut him before 2006 started, and Pinkston tried catching on with a few teams before calling it quits a few years later.

Who wins the card?  McNabb and Mitchell are both somewhat underrated, but I'm giving the nod to Chad Lewis in a big upset because I think the fact that he made three Pro Bowls as an undrafted TE is pretty awesome.  Even Mitchell only made one Pro Bowl since he was more consistent than flashy and didn't always stand out as a result.

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