David Akers

David Akers on years with Eagles: 'The fans changed my life'

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David Akers on years with Eagles: 'The fans changed my life'

Editor's note: This story originally ran Aug. 31.

When you talk about David Akers, you pretty much have to talk about opening day 2000.
 
It wasn’t just the hottest game in NFL history and one of the Eagles' greatest wins over the Cowboys, it was the start of an 11-year run in which the Eagles went to the playoffs nine times, reached five NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl and averaged 10½ wins per year.
 
And when Akers talks about memories of his 12 years with the Eagles, he has to start on that blazing hot afternoon, Sept. 3, 2000, at Texas Stadium.
 
"It was my first game, first year as a full-time kicker, my first kickoff as a full-time kicker," Akers recalled. "And Andy Reid comes in before the game and says if we lose the coin toss, we're opening the game with an onside kick.
 
"I was like, 'You're kidding, right?' I was really worried about not doing well and now we're starting the game with an onside kick? I had already been cut by three teams, and I was like, 'Man, if I screw this up, I might as well just pack up and leave.' "
 
As we all know, Akers' onside kick was perfect, Dameane Douglas recovered, and just a few minutes later Donovan McNabb's TD pass to Stanley Pritchett had the Eagles on their way to a historic 41-14 win over the Cowboys in what came to be known as the Pickle Juice Game.
 
Before he was finished with the Eagles, Akers scored a franchise-record 1,323 points and played a franchise-record 188 games. Along with Jon Runyan, Tra Thomas and Brian Dawkins, he became one of four players in franchise history to play in 10 postseason wins.
 
On Wednesday evening, Akers learned that this fall he'll become the 50th inductee in the Eagles Hall of Fame.
 
Akers is scheduled to be inducted Oct. 23 at halftime of the Eagles-Redskins game at the Linc.
 
“I loved my time in Philly," said Akers, who kicked here from 1999 through 2010. "The fans changed my life. People talk about the billboard we left (when he left Philly), but honestly, it was a true bottom-of-the-heart thank you from my family.
 
"I hope when the fans look at everything, they know I tried the best I could. I always did it for the team, the organization, the fans, and the reality is that none of us are perfect and obviously I would like to have some field goals back in my career, but if I rewrote how things went down, I probably wouldn’t change very much. And I wouldn’t change where I played my 12 years."
 
After getting cut by the Panthers, Redskins and Falcons as an undrafted kicker out of Louisville, Akers found a home in Philadelphia. And even though he finished his career with brief stops in San Francisco and Detroit — it was with the 49ers that he tied the then-NFL record with a 63-yard field goal — it was in Philly that he put up historic numbers and made five of his six Pro Bowls.
 
In NFL history, only three kickers have played in more postseason wins with the same team than Akers — Stephen Gostkowski of the Patriots has played in 15, Adam Vinatieri played in 13 for the Patriots and Roy Gerela of the 1970s Steelers played in 11.
 
"The one thing about Philly fans, they’re so passionate, and it was an honor to play for them as long as I did," Akers said. "They go to the games when we're not doing well. They let you hear it but they're always going to be there. And when you're doing well? This is the greatest city to be around when you're playing well, and guys who don’t get a chance to experience that, it’s a shame."
 
Akers ranks 12th in NFL history with 1,721 points and 11th in history with 386 total field goals. He's the No. 2 scorer in NFL postseason history with 175 points, 59 fewer than Vinatieri.
 
He's also 12th in NFL history with 27 field goals over 50 yards.
 
And now he joins five former teammates — Dawkins, McNabb, Jeremiah Trotter, Brian Westbrook and Troy Vincent — along with Jim Johnson as the seventh representative of the Andy Reid Eagles in the team's Hall of Fame.
 
“When Mr. Lurie (owner Jeffrey Lurie) called me, I have to say that I was shocked but humbled just because I have so much gratitude for what the Eagles did for me," Akers said.
 
"They gave me the opportunity when the Redskins and Panthers and Falcons had not been successful for me. My first kickoff in the NFL went 90 yards for a touchdown the opposite way, and I missed a 49-yarder, then got cut two days later.
 
"It's unbelievable how quickly those 12 years went with the Eagles. Such great runs with so many wonderful players and great coaches, a lot of who were very successful after moving on from the Eagles."
 
Akers learned he had been selected to the Hall of Fame Wednesday night during the Taking Flight for Autism fundraiser at the Linc.
 
"Obviously the one thing that sticks with me is the last time I played in an Eagles uniform is not a day I'd like to remember (2010 playoff loss to the Packers)," he said.
 
"So it was a little surreal being back on the stage at the Linc where a lot of other positive memories happened. Looking back on my career, just overwhelmed with gratitude, to be honest with you."

Roob's Random Points, Part 2: Seth Joyner, Eagles Hall of Fame and Paul Simon

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Roob's Random Points, Part 2: Seth Joyner, Eagles Hall of Fame and Paul Simon

In Part 2 of this week's Roob's Random Points (see Part 1), we babble on about Seth Joyner's preposterous absence from the Eagles Hall of Fame, Simon and Garfunkel, the Eagles' first-quarter dominance, a band called RFA, Nelson Agholor and much, much more!

Dive in!

1. David Akers goes into the Eagles Hall of Fame Monday night, and he absolutely deserves it. Greatest kicker in Eagles history. All-time franchise leader in games played and points. But we have to once again ask why the Eagles Hall of Fame continues to ignore Joyner, one of the greatest outside linebackers of the modern era! Joyner is the only player in NFL history with 25 interceptions and 50 sacks. In fact, of the 136 players in NFL history with 50 sacks, only three other players in NFL history have half as many interceptions as Joyner (Mo Lewis 14, Clay Matthews 16, Junior Seau 18). And of the 155 players with 25 or more interceptions (since sacks became an official stat in 1982), only five others have half as many sacks (Brian Dawkins 26, Ronde Barber 28, Rodney Harrison 30½, William Thomas 37, Ray Lewis 41). Joyner also returned three fumbles for TDs — fifth-most in NFL history by a linebacker. He was a beast against the run, a hawk in coverage, deadly as a blitzer. And he did all of this as an eighth-round pick who was the 208th player taken in the 1986 draft (and promptly released, only to be re-signed). Joyner, who has also become a brilliant football analyst for NBC Sports Philadelphia, should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. For him to not even be in his own team's Hall of Fame is a disgrace.

2. Gotta say I don't get why Joel Embiid is starting the season on such a dramatic minutes restriction. Brett Brown said, "Somewhere in the teens." The teens? The teens??? It's been eight months since his surgery, and it's not like he's shown any signs of it in his preseason stints. He looks phenomenal, to use Larry Brown's favorite word. Let the kid play!

3. Think about this for a minute: The Eagles are 5-1 despite missing Darren Sproles, Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson, Ronald Darby, Wendell Smallwood, Rodney McLeod, Corey Graham, Caleb Sturgis and Jaylen Watkins for a combined 25 games. Amazing.

4. It's crazy how dramatically field goal kicking has improved just in the last few years. Through 2012, only five kickers in NFL history had made 85 percent of their career field goal attempts (Mike Vanderjagt, Nate Kaeding, Rob Bironas, Robbie Gould, Shayne Graham). In the five years since the entire league combined has made 85 percent of its field goal attempts!

5. And 15 of the 19 most-accurate kickers in NFL history are currently active. So, for example, Ryan Succop is one of the 20 most-accurate kickers in NFL history but ranks only 15th out of 30 active kickers in accuracy! (I love kicking stats.)

6. Only nine quarterbacks in NFL history have started all 32 games their first two seasons in the league. Of those nine, only four had a winning record (Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton). If Carson Wentz stays healthy and the Eagles just win four games the rest of the year, Wentz joins that group.

7. I'm convinced they make phones out of the world's slipperiest material so it's almost impossible not to drop them and break them and have to buy new phones.

8. The Eagles have scored 44 first-quarter points. They scored 56 in the first quarter all last year. In fact, they've outscored their opponents, 44-6, in the first quarter. They're only the 13th team in NFL history to score 40 or more first-quarter points and allow six or fewer through six games. And this is the first time since 1979 they haven't allowed a first-quarter touchdown in their first six games. Last year, they constantly got into first-quarter holes. This year, they've really been able to take command of games early and then just dictate on both sides of the ball the rest of the way. Impressive stuff.

9. I don't think the Eagles are going to lose a game at the Linc this year.

10. "Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you," is one of the all-time greatest lines in popular music. And it's so brilliant that Paul Simon could get away with following it up with something as seemingly inane as, "Woo woo woo." But the "woo woo woo" actually serves an important function in that verse in the Simon & Garfunkel classic, "Mrs. Robinson." The Joe DiMaggio couplet is so compelling that the "woo woo woo" serves as a chance for the listener to let the previous line truly sink in and regroup. It's like a momentary respite from the genius. Which is in itself genius.

11. Hard to believe the Eagles have never had a 4,000-yard passer. Wentz is on pace for 4,224, but as of now, the Eagles are one of only two teams that have never had a 4,000-yard passer. The Bears' club record is 3,838, set in 1995 by Erik Kramer. The Eagles' franchise record is 3,918 by Donovan McNabb in 2008. Maybe if he hadn't gotten benched for the second half against the Ravens that year he would have gotten it.

12. There are like 10,000 great bands in Philly, and my new favorite one is called RFA, and I have no idea what it stands for or even if it stands for anything, but I saw them play at the Manayunk Harvest Festival Saturday at Pretzel Park and honestly it reminded me of seeing a then-unknown band called The Strokes at the TLA opening for Guided by Voices in February 2001 — eight months before "Is This It" was even released. Great songs, boundless energy, killer musicianship. Everything I need in a band.

12½. How cool is it that when Nelson Agholor makes a big catch we're not even surprised anymore!

David Akers on years with Eagles: 'The fans changed my life'

David Akers on years with Eagles: 'The fans changed my life'

When you talk about David Akers, you pretty much have to talk about opening day 2000.
 
It wasn’t just the hottest game in NFL history and one of the Eagles' greatest wins over the Cowboys, it was the start of an 11-year run in which the Eagles went to the playoffs nine times, reached five NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl and averaged 10½ wins per year.
 
And when Akers talks about memories of his 12 years with the Eagles, he has to start on that blazing hot afternoon, Sept. 3, 2000, at Texas Stadium.
 
"It was my first game, first year as a full-time kicker, my first kickoff as a full-time kicker," Akers recalled. "And Andy Reid comes in before the game and says if we lose the coin toss, we're opening the game with an onside kick.
 
"I was like, 'You're kidding, right?' I was really worried about not doing well and now we're starting the game with an onside kick? I had already been cut by three teams, and I was like, 'Man, if I screw this up, I might as well just pack up and leave.' "
 
As we all know, Akers' onside kick was perfect, Dameane Douglas recovered, and just a few minutes later Donovan McNabb's TD pass to Stanley Pritchett had the Eagles on their way to a historic 41-14 win over the Cowboys in what came to be known as the Pickle Juice Game.
 
Before he was finished with the Eagles, Akers scored a franchise-record 1,323 points and played a franchise-record 188 games. Along with Jon Runyan, Tra Thomas and Brian Dawkins, he became one of four players in franchise history to play in 10 postseason wins.
 
On Wednesday evening, Akers learned that this fall he'll become the 50th inductee in the Eagles Hall of Fame.
 
Akers is scheduled to be inducted Oct. 23 at halftime of the Eagles-Redskins game at the Linc.
 
“I loved my time in Philly," said Akers, who kicked here from 1999 through 2010. "The fans changed my life. People talk about the billboard we left (when he left Philly), but honestly, it was a true bottom-of-the-heart thank you from my family.
 
"I hope when the fans look at everything, they know I tried the best I could. I always did it for the team, the organization, the fans, and the reality is that none of us are perfect and obviously I would like to have some field goals back in my career, but if I rewrote how things went down, I probably wouldn’t change very much. And I wouldn’t change where I played my 12 years."
 
After getting cut by the Panthers, Redskins and Falcons as an undrafted kicker out of Louisville, Akers found a home in Philadelphia. And even though he finished his career with brief stops in San Francisco and Detroit — it was with the 49ers that he tied the then-NFL record with a 63-yard field goal — it was in Philly that he put up historic numbers and made five of his six Pro Bowls.
 
In NFL history, only three kickers have played in more postseason wins with the same team than Akers — Stephen Gostkowski of the Patriots has played in 15, Adam Vinatieri played in 13 for the Patriots and Roy Gerela of the 1970s Steelers played in 11.
 
"The one thing about Philly fans, they’re so passionate, and it was an honor to play for them as long as I did," Akers said. "They go to the games when we're not doing well. They let you hear it but they're always going to be there. And when you're doing well? This is the greatest city to be around when you're playing well, and guys who don’t get a chance to experience that, it’s a shame."
 
Akers ranks 12th in NFL history with 1,721 points and 11th in history with 386 total field goals. He's the No. 2 scorer in NFL postseason history with 175 points, 59 fewer than Vinatieri.
 
He's also 12th in NFL history with 27 field goals over 50 yards.
 
And now he joins five former teammates — Dawkins, McNabb, Jeremiah Trotter, Brian Westbrook and Troy Vincent — along with Jim Johnson as the seventh representative of the Andy Reid Eagles in the team's Hall of Fame.
 
“When Mr. Lurie (owner Jeffrey Lurie) called me, I have to say that I was shocked but humbled just because I have so much gratitude for what the Eagles did for me," Akers said.
 
"They gave me the opportunity when the Redskins and Panthers and Falcons had not been successful for me. My first kickoff in the NFL went 90 yards for a touchdown the opposite way, and I missed a 49-yarder, then got cut two days later.
 
"It's unbelievable how quickly those 12 years went with the Eagles. Such great runs with so many wonderful players and great coaches, a lot of who were very successful after moving on from the Eagles."
 
Akers learned he had been selected to the Hall of Fame Wednesday night during the Taking Flight for Autism fundraiser at the Linc.
 
"Obviously the one thing that sticks with me is the last time I played in an Eagles uniform is not a day I'd like to remember (2010 playoff loss to the Packers)," he said.
 
"So it was a little surreal being back on the stage at the Linc where a lot of other positive memories happened. Looking back on my career, just overwhelmed with gratitude, to be honest with you."