Thanking his former coaches and teammates and Eagles fans around the world, Harold Carmichael on Saturday evening was formally enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In a 6½-minute speech at Tom Benson Stadium in Canton, Ohio, an emotional Carmichael — a walk-on at Southern University and a seventh-round draft pick in 1971 — accepted the highest honor for a professional football player.
“Eagles nation, thank you,” Carmichael said. “Thank you for welcoming a 22-year-old kid from Jacksonville, Florida, and really accepting me as one of your own. Thank you for your support, thank you for your relentless passion, your energy, your pride. To me, you’re the best fans in the world.
“To the ones here in Canton, the ones back in Philadelphia and the ones around the world, thank you for sharing this moment with me. We all share this together. Go Birds!”
Carmichael was elected into the Hall of Fame last year but after waiting 36 years to get into the Hall of Fame, he had to wait one more year when the 2020 enshrinement ceremony was cancelled.
From 1973 through 1983, Carmichael was the best wide receiver in football, leading the NFL in yards, catches and touchdowns during that 11-year span.
Some 38 years after he last played here, he still owns numerous Eagles franchise records, including 589 receptions, 8,978 yards and 79 touchdowns.
When he retired, Carmichael ranked fifth in NFL history in receptions, seventh in receiving yards and eighth in touchdown catches.
He’s only the seventh player to spend more than half his career with the Eagles to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. The others are Chuck Bednarik, Steve Van Buren, Tommy McDonald, Reggie White, Brian Dawkins and Pete Pihos.
Carmichael and Dawkins both attended Raines High School in Jacksonville.
Carmichael grew emotional speaking about Dick Vermeil, his head coach for seven of his best years, including his three straight Pro Bowl seasons in 1978, 1979 and the 1980 Super Bowl season.
“Dick Vermeil — he pushed me every day in practice,” Carmichael said to an emotional Vermeil, watching in the audience. “Thank you, Coach. Hope you’re in the next class of inductees. You deserve it and you’ve got a lot of guys that you coached and we’re all pulling for you right now.
“I remember Coach Vermeil said, ‘Do your job better than anybody else and surround yourself with good people,’ and I feel like I’ve done that.”
Carmichael was presented by Jim Solano, a Philly native and his agent for virtually his entire career.
“Harold’s style of play was tenacious,” Solano said. “He was the king of the contested ball. Anytime there was a ball in the air that came his way, he felt that he had to go and get it, and he did.
“Harold meant everything to the city of Philadelphia. He was a ray of sunshine amid dark clouds. One of the few players that has never been booed by Philadelphia fans.”
Carmichael, a member of the NFL team of the decade for the 1970s and the 1980 Walter Payton Man of the Year, singled out three former teammates who were especially supportive of him throughout his career — Harold Jackson, Ron Jaworski and Mike Quick.
He also thanked his wife of 42 years, Beatrice, who he said critiqued his game every Sunday night when he got home.
And he thanked Eagles owner Jeff Lurie, who brought Carmichael back into the front office in 1998.
“I am so happy to be here,” said Carmichael, who kissed his Hall of Fame bust after it was unveiled. “You don’t know how much this means to me today.”
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