Connor Barwin

Compiling most beloved Eagles team of last 20 years

Compiling most beloved Eagles team of last 20 years

It’s Valentine’s Day, so let’s get a little lovey-dovey with the Eagles. 

Looking back at the last 20 years, I wanted to put together an Eagles team with the most beloved players of the generation. I went back to the 1999 season, the first under Andy Reid for this list. So when you’re frantically searching for Reggie White or Randall, that’s why they’re not there. 

Now, a lot of the time, it’s pretty simple: The best player is the most loved by fans. But that’s not always the case. 

Here’s a look at the team I put together. If you have an addition or subtraction, leave it below: 

QB: Nick Foles 
It’s amazing to think that Foles nearly retired a couple years before he led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl win and took home the MVP trophy. But since he did that, he’s going to be a legend in this town forever. Many still think Donovan McNabb is the greatest QB in team history, but he was never universally loved the way Foles is right now. And I expect Carson Wentz to be a great quarterback, but it’s hard to imagine this love affair between city and player ever being duplicated. 

RB: Brian Westbrook 
This was a tough one because LeSean McCoy is the best running back in franchise history, but that’s not what this list is. When we talk about the most-beloved players, Westbrook is atop the list. He had a tremendous career as an undersized back out of Villanova, which only helped fans fall in love with him. 

WR: Alshon Jeffery 
No, Alshon hasn’t been here for long, but he helped the Eagles win a Super Bowl and played all of that season with a torn rotator cuff. He also consistently told everyone they were going to win. It became clear how much fans love him when after Alshon dropped a ball in these last playoffs, many of them rushed to his defense. T.O. is probably the most talented receiver we’ve had in town over the last 20 years, but he was as divisive as he was great. 

WR: Rotating cast of training camp guys 
This is kind of a cop out, but I wasn’t going to go through this list without a nod to the annual love affair with a relatively unknown wide receiver. From Na Brown to Paul Turner to Rasheed Bailey, these guys become huge stories in August, but never really have much of an impact when the games matter. 

TE: Brent Celek 
Zach Ertz is the better player, but everyone loves Celek. He missed just one game in 11 seasons and retired a champion. He sort of embodied that blue collar work ethic we all want from our athletes in this city. 

FB: Leonard Weaver 
Big Weave really only played one season with the Eagles before an ACL injury ended his career, but it was a great year. He was an All-Pro, but more importantly, he immediately connected with fans. Hard to be a fan favorite in one season, but Weaver did that. 

LT: Jason Peters 
This came down to Tra Thomas or Peters, but I gave the nod to JP. Although plenty of fans were frustrated by Peters’ nagging injuries this past season, the period of time when he became The Bodyguard was pretty cool. How many offensive linemen get fans to wear t-shirts with their nicknames? 

LG: Evan Mathis 
Things got contentious between Mathis and the organization at the end of his run, but he was a Pro Bowl left guard and was a really affable guy. For fans on Twitter, Mathis became a must follow for his jokes and wit. 

C: Jason Kelce
Yeah, he happens to be the best center in the NFL, but even if he wasn’t, he’s on this list. We all saw the speech. 

RG: Brandon Brooks 
I thought about giving this spot to Todd Herremans, who played a bunch of different positions, but I have to give the edge to Brooks, who is a part of the Super Bowl team and immediately became accepted in Philly. For those of you on Twitter, you’ll remember when Brooks got to town and slowly learned about Broad Street and Wawa. 

RT: Jon Runyan 
If Runyan played anywhere else, Eagles fans would have probably hated him. And it’s pretty funny he’s in charge of rule enforcement in the NFL because he didn’t have a pristine reputation. But he was a tough dude and played nine seasons with the Eagles and didn’t miss a game. 

DE: Hugh Douglas 
He didn’t have a particularly long career in Philly, but Hugh was jolly and funny and definitely connected with the fanbase. It should come as no surprise that Douglas has been working in sports media since his career ended in 2005. 

DT: Hollis Thomas 
Tank spent 10 seasons with the Eagles and parlayed his popularity into a career with WIP in his post-football days. 

DT: Fletcher Cox
It actually feels like Cox’s popularity hasn’t quite caught up to his level of play. Because he’s an All-Pro, one of the best defensive players in the league and it still feels like he’s not as beloved as other players. But if he keeps playing like this, fans are gonna love him forever. 

DE: Trent Cole
The lasting image of Cole in Philly will be his archery sack celebration that we saw plenty of times during his career with the Eagles. 

LB: Jeremiah Trotter 
The Axe Man! Trotter became a Pro Bowl linebacker, went to Washington for two years and then came back and became a Pro Bowler again. Then after one year in Tampa Bay, he came back for one more season. That’s three different stints with the Eagles and he was a fan favorite for a decade. 

LB: DeMeco Ryans 
Mufasa came in before Andy Reid’s last year and then became a favorite during the Chip Kelly seasons. The Eagles released him after the 2015 season, ending his NFL career, but he was a bright spot on a defense without a ton. 

LB: Connor Barwin 
I’m cheating a little bit because Barwin was an edge rusher in a 3-4 and then played DE in 2016, but he needs to be on this list. Few athletes go to a new town and immediately immerse themselves as quickly as Barwin did. He’s still raising money for parks in the city. 

CB: Troy Vincent 
Vincent came to the Eagles in 1996, but from 1999-2003 he was a Pro Bowler. He was so good for so long. He’s arguably the best free agent pickup in franchise history. 

CB: Sheldon Brown 
Lito Sheppard and Asante Samuel were better players, but Brown was known to get a huge hit here or there. His hit on Reggie Bush will always be remembered. 

S: Malcolm Jenkins 
I didn’t know whether or not to put Jenkins on this list because he was slightly divisive for a while simply because of his anthem protests; some people simply want their football players to play football. But I’m not leaving him off because of that. When we look back at Jenkins in 10 years, he’ll be thought of as one of the greatest players in franchise history and a guy who helped bring a Super Bowl to Philly. 

S: Brian Dawkins 
I don’t think I need to say much here. We get it. 

K: David Akers
Not exactly a ton of competition. Maybe Jake Elliott will eventually overtake him, but he’s got a long way to go. 

LS: Jon Dorenbos
Dorenbos has to be the most beloved long snapper in NFL history. He’s already well on his way to an impressive post-NFL gig and has been wowing again on America’s Got Talent. How many fan bases even know the name of their long snapper? 

P: Donnie Jones 
He’s the best punter in franchise history, but he was also a really likable guy too. Jones never took himself too seriously. 

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More on the Eagles

Former Eagles fan favorite Connor Barwin joining the Giants

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AP Images

Former Eagles fan favorite Connor Barwin joining the Giants

A former fan favorite with the Eagles, Connor Barwin is coming back to the NFC East. He’ll be signing with the rival Giants, Barwin announced Monday. 

After piling up 31½ sacks in four seasons with the Eagles, Barwin went out west in 2017, spending the year with the Los Angeles Rams. He was injured and missed the game when the Eagles beat the Rams to wrap up their division title in December. 

Barwin, 31, played for the Rams on a one-year deal in 2017 and has been a free agent since March. 

So apparently, Barwin thinks the Giants can win the Super Bowl in 2018. 

That would be something. 

The Giants went 3-13 last year to finish in the basement of the NFC East and fired their head coach along the way. For what it’s worth (not much) that same coach who was fired thinks the Giants will win the division this year (see story), but it’s hard to imagine them making that kind of leap or taking down the Eagles, who should be well-positioned to repeat as division champs. 

Barwin’s heading to the Giants makes some sense. He’ll reunite with linebackers coach Bill McGovern, who was the Eagles’ outside linebackers coach during the Chip Kelly years. He also is plenty familiar with Giants head coach Pat Shurmur, who was Kelly’s offensive coordinator and eventually interim head coach after Kelly got canned. Aside from that, Barwin will still get to play in a 3-4 scheme, in which he seems better suited. He played in Jim Schwartz’s 4-3 for one season in 2016, but it wasn’t a perfect fit. 

The real question is: How will Eagles fans respond to Barwin when he comes to town on Nov. 25 as a member of the Giants? Because even after Barwin was released and then went out to L.A., he continued his incredible charitable work back in Philly. His Make the World Better Foundation continues to excel in creating parks in the City of Philadelphia, where Barwin really felt at home. 

He probably deserves to be cheered, but if that game means something, you can forget about it. Good for Barwin to find a new gig, but as far as fans are concerned, he’s the enemy now. 

More on the Eagles

Connor Barwin had conflicted feelings about Eagles winning Super Bowl

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USA Today Images

Connor Barwin had conflicted feelings about Eagles winning Super Bowl

One of my favorite aspects of the Eagles finally winning the Super Bowl was the feeling among Philly fans that this 2017 Birds team won it for all of the players to put on the green uniforms before them.

The current Super Bowl champs even paid homage to some of the Eagles all-time greats to pave the way before them as they rode down Broad Street.

But what about more recent guys who played for the Eagles as recently as last season and had to watch as a player still in the league who got beat by the Birds? What was watching this championship like for them?

GQ caught up with former fan favorite and generally great citizen of Earth, Connor Barwin, to get his feelings on watching the Eagles win it all. He was somewhat ambivalent. 

After they won, “I was in a weird state for a couple of days,” he said. It was two opposite feelings: “I was kind of bummed out that I wasn't part of it.” But he was also happy for his friends on the team, and for the city, where he still mostly lives in the offseason. After a few days feeling sorry for himself, he watched the team’s victory parade on television, and saw how happy everyone was, and exhaled. “I was like, man, I'm over any personal weird feelings I'm having. I’m just happy for everybody involved”—even guys like me, barging into his home in barely concealed glee over something that ultimately didn’t have much to do with him.

Birds fans may remember Jason Kelce chilling on Barwin's deck out in Malibu, California just days after his legendary speech on the Art Museum steps. Barwin spoke with him and Brent Celek about their experience. Not a lot was all that different aside from some good luck.

“What was most interesting to me about what they said was, there was nothing that happened this year that made them such a better team. There wasn’t this special motivator or something. But Celek said it was so weird this year because all season, any time they needed to make a play or they needed the ball to bounce their way, it just did.”

So there you have it, Birds fans, sometimes you just need some good old fashioned football gods looking down on you.

>>Connor Barwin Watched The Eagles Win the Super Bowl Without Him [GQ]