The Eagles date back nearly 90 years, and much of the team’s storied past is part of the extensive archives of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
But the vaults of the Hall of Fame are large enough that much of the collection is not on public view, stored on shelves in dark rooms that overlook the government warehouse at the end of The Raiders of the Lost Ark a run for his money. The museum is home to over 40,000 artifacts and 40 million pages of documents, most of which can only be seen if you purchase a behind-the-scenes tour for $2,000 per group.
Longtime Hall of Fame archivist Jon Kendle opened the museum’s vault to offer a glimpse of some of the Eagles memorabilia that visitors don’t get to see.
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Although he ultimately decided to leave the Eagles rather than back Carson Wentz, Nick Foles will always be a hero in Philadelphia for his role in securing the team’s first Super Bowl win (including calling the decisive game of the game).
Kendle said the Hall of Famer worked with the Eagles to collect items that embody their win over the New England Patriots. Foles – the game’s MVP – was central.
His helmet is preserved in the Hall of Fame archives, as are the cleats he wore during an Eagles game in November 2013, when he tied an NFL record by throwing seven touchdown passes against Oakland. Raiders of the era. His Super Bowl LII jersey is on display in the museum’s Super Bowl gallery, where it hangs alongside the jerseys of two Hall of Famers – Tom Brady and Joe Montana.
But Canton won’t be allowed to keep Foles’ Eagles memorabilia indefinitely.
“Well, I’m going to get them back, let’s be clear,” Foles joked to reporters in 2018. “These will go to my kids. Hall of Fame, if you’re listening, these will go to my kids one day. .
The famed Eagles defenseman has been open about his religion during his 16 NFL seasons, and his personal Bible was among the items he donated to the Hall of Fame when he was ordained in 2018.
Listed on the Bible is “Minister Brian Dawkins,” since he served as the Denver Broncos’ religious leader during his three years with the team. Kendle said the Hall of Fame now houses six Bibles, including those donated by coach Tony Dungy and running back Curtis Martin.
“What I love about Brian’s Bible is that it’s been very well used,” Kendle said.
In addition to the usual helmets and jerseys worn by the game, Dawkins donated several statues of the X-Men character Wolverine, hence his nickname “Weapon X”. He also included a drawing of him as a famous Marvel character.
“I was a huge Wolverine fan,” Dawkins told the Inquirer in June. “I was lucky to be able to kind of use some of that energy that he put into the comics in the field. That kind of animal instinct.
Most football fans know John Madden as a coach, broadcaster or video game icon. But few remember that he was once a player drafted by the Eagles.
Madden was an all-conference lineman at California Polytechnic State University in 1958, and the Eagles selected him in the 21st round with the 244th pick (at the time, the NFL Draft was 30 rounds). Madden injured his knee during training camp and never played a down in the league, but the injury also set him on the path to training.
“While I was in rehab, [Eagles great] Norm Van Brocklin would watch movies and explain what was going on,” Madden told Electronic Gaming Monthly in 1995. “I got a teaching degree, and my love for football tangled with teaching.
Madden’s 1959 contract with the Eagles paid him $7,000, which would equate to about $71,000 in today’s dollars.
“Madden was like, ‘I don’t have a hobby. I don’t fish. I don’t play golf. soccer.”
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Vermeil wears his heart on his sleeve, but he has kept his NFL secrets in massive binders.
One is his 1982 Eagles offensive notebook, which contains about 700 pages of formations, plays, and definitions players were expected to learn. It also includes touches of Vermeil’s connection to the team, such as a heartfelt introduction dedicated to six former players and coaches who took jobs with other teams but “exemplify what it means to be an Eagle”.
“Part of his coaching philosophy was to build strong relationships with every individual in this organization,” Kendle said. “And you see that in all of his books.”
Vermeil donated other playbooks, including a 2005 Kansas City Chiefs offensive binder and his playbook while he was head coach of the former St. Louis Rams. Vermeil was also the first special teams coach in NFL history, and his 1969 Los Angeles Rams playbook is on display.
READ MORE: Hall of Fame coach Dick Vermeil on Eagles representation: ‘This is my community’
The “Minister of Defense” spent eight sack-loaded seasons in Philadelphia, but 1987 was by far his best.
In the strike-shortened season, White recorded 21 sacks in just 12 games, an astonishing pace that has yet to be matched. White also scored a touchdown in the season opener after pulling the ball off Washington quarterback Doug Williams and returning it 70 yards.
“He could throw offensive linemen in the air. He could crush them. Sometimes he did both in the same room,” wrote former Daily News columnist Sam Donnellon. “And he was so ridiculously fast that he would sometimes finish practices by running passes with the receivers.”
White’s 1993 Pro Bowl jersey, which he won in his freshman year with the Green Bay Packers, is also on display.
Bednarik was known as “Concrete Charlie” for a reason, and the nicks and scratches on his helmet are hard to miss.
It was during the 1960 season that Bednarik knocked out former Giants running back Frank Gifford with a tackle so vicious he became known simply as “The Hit”. The image of Bednarik celebrating is an iconic photograph symbolizing the violence of the game.
“Frank missed an entire year of football the following season, that’s how affected he was,” former Giants linebacker Sam Huff told NFL Films. “I thought Bednarik killed him.”
What is often overlooked is later that season, Bednarik made a game-saving tackle in the closing seconds of the 1960 NFL Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers, securing the Eagles victory.
» READ MORE: Chuck Bednarik, Frank Gifford and the collision that still resonates, 60 years later
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is located in Canton as it was where the association that became the NFL first organized in August 1920.
The Eagles did not become members of the league until 1933, when they were selected as an expansion team to replace the Frankford Yellow Jackets, who played eight seasons in North Philly (the Eagles retained the blue color scheme and yellow of the team for several years).
Instead of taking their name and logos from their baseball counterparts like other new NFL franchises that season, the Eagles took inspiration from the Blue Eagles, symbolizing the National Recovery Administration, which was an important part of the program. President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.
The Eagles franchise certificate is signed by Joseph Carr, who served as NFL president from 1921 to 1939.
Famed Eagles wide receiver Harold Carmichael, dubbed the ‘king of disputed ball’, won his golden Hall of Fame jacket in 2020. In exchange, he donated one of his own to the museum.
READ MORE: Eagles great Harold Carmichael finally earns Hall of Fame induction
Among the items Carmichael donated was the XXL Eagles track jacket he wore during the 1980 season on away trips. The coat has both Carmichael’s name and number – 17 – embroidered on the front.
Carmichael played 14 seasons, including 13 in Philadelphia, and still holds the Eagles records for receptions (589), receiving yards (8,978) and touchdown catches (79). After retiring, he spent nearly 20 years working in the Eagles front office and is still an ambassador for the team.
While the Eagles didn’t win their first Super Bowl until 2018, Philadelphia won three NFL championship games before the NFL and AFL merged in 1970.
Among these was the 1948 championship game against the Chicago Cardinals, which was later dubbed the “Blizzard Bowl” because it was played during a heavy snowstorm. There was so much snow on the ground at Shibe Park that Eagles fans were told if they arrived at the stadium with a shovel they could watch for free.
According to Kendle, Hall of Fame running back Steve Van Buren went through his own version of Planes, trains and automobiles to get to the stadium after waking up assuming it would be canceled due to snow.
“He’s going to get in his car, but it’s snowing,” Kendle said. “So he walks to the bus station and takes the bus to the train, which takes him downtown. Then he has to take the subway, which drops him off four or five blocks from the stadium, and walks the rest of the way in the snow.
The stressful drive didn’t stop Van Buren from scoring the lone touchdown and being named the game’s most valuable player.