The Philadelphia Eagles hardly kept it a secret that Donovan McNabb would be honored soon. But before the Eagles can pay tribute to McNabb, the former quarterback had to retire first. Although McNabb hasn’t played since 2011, he finally plans to retire as an Eagles on July 29, according to the Associated Press.
McNabb’s final games were with the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings, but everyone will choose to forget about those failed stints. To Philadelphia and the NFL at large, McNabb will always be an Eagle, so it makes sense to retire as one. Once he does, he will likely be honored at Lincoln Financial Field on Sept. 19 when the Eagles host Andy Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs.
He is far from the only star of his era to retire by signing a one-day contract with Philadelphia. And of course, he is far from the only Eagles legend to retire as a member of the team, in some way or form. Here is a list of the famed Philadelphia players who announced their retirement as Eagles.
The knocks against McNabb will follow him forever, now that he is officially ending his career without a Super Bowl win and a 1-4 record in conference title games. However, the Eagles haven’t won a playoff game since they traded McNabb and have only made the postseason once — a fact that could get more painful if Chip Kelly’s grand rebuilding project doesn’t take off.
The former Eagles cornerback was as instrumental as McNabb and Reid during the 2000s, and perhaps even more beloved. In fact, outrage was felt throughout the city when the Eagles let Dawkins go to the Denver Broncos after the 2008 season — their last one with a playoff win. However, when it came time to retire, Dawkins signed a one-day deal with his true team in April 2012.
Four months later, Westbrook was the next key member of the McNabb/Reid era to call it quits with the Eagles. Like Dawkins and McNabb, Westbrook went to another team first, leaving the Eagles for the San Francisco 49ers in 2010. That was his last year on the field, yet he came back to Philadelphia to retire in August 2012.
In that same month, Thomas came back to the Eagles for a day, after being their star offensive lineman for 11 seasons in his first stint. In his case, Thomas first left Philadelphia in 2008, then spent two years with the Jacksonville Jaguars and San Diego Chargers. After missing the 2010 season, Thomas waited almost two years to officially call it quits with the Eagles.
The last legendary Eagles quarterback before McNabb was Cunningham — another mobile quarterback who couldn’t quite go all the way. Despite winning only one playoff game in Philadelphia, Cunningham electrified Veterans Stadium from 1985 to 1995.
After his first retirement in 1995, he came back with the Minnesota Vikings and almost made the Super Bowl in 1998, but retired again as an Eagle in 2002 with no ring.
Bednarik played in a time where most were active on both sides of the ball – and in a time when players usually stayed with one team for an entire career. As such, he spent all 14 seasons of his career with the Eagles before retiring in 1962, two years after his infamous hit on Frank Gifford and his final tackle to clinch Philadelphia’s last championship.
Norm Van Brocklin
Norm Van Brocklin
Van Brocklin spent most of his career throwing for the Los Angeles Rams in the 50s, before they traded him to the Eagles in 1958. Yet Van Brocklin ended his career on the highest of notes, giving the Eagles their last NFL title in 1960, then retiring after the victory.
Steve Van Buren
Steve Van Buren
Van Brocklin and Bednarik led the Eagles’ last championship team, but Van Buren led the first two. Thanks to his touchdown in the snowy 1948 NFL title game, and his then-record 196 rushing yards in the 1949 championship, the Eagles actually won back to back rings. Yet since Van Buren retired with Philadelphia after 1951, the franchise has only won one title since.