Eagles-Falcons at Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta in 1986.
With the Eagles up 16-0 in the last few minutes of the game, the Falcons had a 2nd-and-10 on their own 35-yard-line.
Falcons QB David Archer scrambled for a couple yards, and Eagles safety Andre Waters hit him late, after he had stepped out of bounds.
Archer popped up after the hit and went after Waters, who a week earlier had knocked Rams quarterback Steve Bartkowski out of a game at the Vet with a shot to the knee. The two tangled for a moment or two and Archer managed to get a couple shots in before they were separated by teammates and officials.
It was ugly.
“It was a cheap shot, no doubt about it,” Archer told the Atlanta Constitution after the game. “He was going for my leg.”
Waters wasn’t just called for a personal foul, he was ejected from the game by referee Jim Tunney.
“The quarterback was clearly out of bounds,” Tunney said after the game. “The defender came at hit and hit him low and hard. There was no reason for the play.”
Waters was fined $1,000, the first of at least four fines Waters got for late hits on quarterbacks (Bartkowski, Archer, Rich Gannon, Jim Everett).
In the spring of 1991, the Eagles signed Archer to compete with Jeff Kemp for the third-string quarterback job behind Randall Cunningham and Bubby Brister.
On Archer’s first day as an Eagle, in the Eagles’ locker room at the Vet, Waters walked over to his locker, apologized for the hit and the two shook hands and shared a laugh and became teammates.
Archer never did play for the Eagles, but that incident came to mind Wednesday when a report surfaced that the Eagles were among five teams interested in free agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (see story).
There’s a huge difference here.
Clowney’s inexusable cheap shot that knocked Carson Wentz out of the Seahawks playoff game and effectively ended the Eagles' 2019 season just happened a few months ago, while Archer and Waters didn’t become teammates until five years after their incident.
But the reality is the same.
If the Eagles really do have interest in Clowney and his price tag is reasonable, and Howie Roseman and Jim Schwartz really do think it makes sense, you do it.
When there's a 27-year-old three-time Pro Bowl defensive end on the market and all you have at the position is a still-effective but 32-year-old Brandon Graham, an underachieving Derek Barnett and Josh Sweat, you have to consider it.
Now, I don’t think this is going to happen. I think Clowney goes back to Seattle.
But when you’re building an NFL team, you can’t make decisions based on who likes who or who has a history with who.
Every team has guys who have some history between them or don’t like each other, especially on opposite sides of the ball. But GMs have to make decisions based on what makes the football team better.
Now, there are extreme cases. It was a long time ago, but we’ve seen a player released because he was involved with another player’s wife. That’s over the line.
But Wentz is a pro, and I can’t put words in his mouth, but after being around him for four years I’d be shocked if he’d have a problem with the Eagles signing anybody who makes the team better.
Wentz wouldn’t have to be his best friend, but the way Wentz is wired, he’s in favor of anything that can help the team win games.
If Waters and Archer could co-exist, Wentz and Clowney could co-exist.
And every Eagles fan who is saying today that they don't want Clowney in an Eagles uniform? They'd be changing their tune the first time he does it to someone else.
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