5. BEST: TRADING FOR NORM VAN BROCKLIN
Simply put, one of the greatest trades for the Eagles, as Van Brocklin would come in and be a stellar quarterback for Philadelphia. He was a huge factor on the 1960 National Football League Championship (the one that pre-dates the Super Bowl). Van Brocklin started out as a Los Angeles Ram, and for a stretch in the 1950s he platooned with another star quarterback. But when he had time to shine all on his own, he did. He still holds the single game passing yardage record. But at some point, things broke down between the QB and Rams management, and Van Brocklin actually went so far as to announce his retirement. A few months later, however, and the Eagles traded for him. The price paid was relatively small, but with the acquisition came great improvements to the team. And in 1960, the team’s last NFL Championship.
4. WORST: TRADING SONNY JURGENSEN
Yes, this was before my time. Yes, they got a serviceable replacement who had longevity, in return for Jurgensen. But Sonny had really done nothing to warrant a trade, other than the teams then-head coach was not a fan. Which, I suppose, is reason enough to jettison a player…except that you need someone to over-rule the really dumb decisions. Like this one. Jurgensen had impressive seasons for the Eagles, and with the Redskins, he largely continued that trend, being named an All-Pro several times, and also winning several passing yardage titles as well. He lead Washington to a Super Bowl, though they did not win that one. In that same span, the Eagles never made it to the Super Bowl. It was bad enough trading a stud QB. It was worse trading him to a division rival.
3. BEST: DRAFTING REGGIE WHITE
He is considered the best player in Eagles history, and the best defensive end to ever play in the NFL. He was at one point the NFL leader in sacks, and still has the record for highest sacks per game average in a season (21 sacks in 12 games, 1.75 a game). If you include his sacks in the USFL, he would eclipse Bruce Smith’s 200 sack record. Or, if he didn’t lose time to a strike shortened season, who knows what could have happened. And yes, his Eagles defenses were fairly well stocked with talent (the late Jerome Brown, Seth Joyner and so many others), but the reality is that the Minister of Defense was the leader on that team, a defense which many consider to be the best defense to never win a Super Bowl.
2. WORST: LETTING REGGIE WHITE LEAVE AS A FREE AGENT
This, to me, is inexcusable. And, as every Eagles fan knows, this one lands at the feet of Norman Braman more than any other departure. I believe some players easily used the word cheap to describe Braman. As a fan, that’s not what you want to hear. Especially when you are dealing with a free agent defensive end who just so happens to be the best who ever played the position (not at the time…ever. Even now, no one has surpassed his talent). But White knew two things: Braman wasn’t going to pay Reggie what he was worth or deserved, and Braman wasn’t going to shell out to put pieces around Reggie and on offense to help the Eagles get to a Super Bowl. So, White jumped ship and instantly made a number of Eagles fans into Packers fans (at least for when Green Bay wasn’t playing Philly).
1. BEST: DRAFTING DONOVAN MCNABB
Now, in time, I suspect this could be supplanted by Carson Wentz and his selection, also at #2 (at least, most fans are hoping things go that well). But for now, McNabb remains the most successful quarterback in Eagles history. He was one of the first in a new wave of quarterbacks, the kind that could beat you with his feet and his arm. He lead the Eagles to four consecutive NFC Title games, five title games in total, to go along with five NFC East crowns and a Super Bowl appearance. Simply put, for as much criticism as he’s received, he had one impressive run in Philadelphia, and it’s a model of consistency that most teams would love to have. Oh sure, they’d love to have won more conference title games, but it’s hard enough just to get there… but to do it four times in a row? He is also deserving of this spot because, had the fans been in charge, we likely would have wound up with Ricky Williams.