Congrats to Harold Carmichael for making the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The honor is long overdue for the Eagles receiver, who once set the NFL record by making catches in 127 straight games. Rest assured the six-foot-eight gentleman will savor his moment in Canton.
It’s been a great recent stretch for local heroes gaining immortality. Brian Dawkins, Eric Lindros, Allen Iverson, Mo Cheeks, and Bobby Jones have all gained enshrinement since 2016. So, too, did great players who spent productive years here — Roy Halladay, Jim Thome, Mark Recchi, George McGinnis, and Terrell Owens.
We raise a toast to all.
But who’s next? Who most deserves a plaque (or bust) in Cooperstown, or Canton, or Springfield or that shopping mall in Toronto?
This column represents my view — not the betting odds. Speaking of which, I’m not covering Pete Rose here because that stalemate will never end. I’m also leaving off active players — so no Jason Peters.
My list of the most deserving:
1. Eric Allen, Eagles
Despite making six Pro Bowls and leading the NFL in interceptions during the 1990s, Buddy Ryan’s favorite cornerback has never even been a finalist for football’s hall. Allen has 54 career interceptions — one more than Deion Sanders — and spent his career shutting down the opposition’s top receiver. A truly forgotten star.
2. Dick Vermeil, Eagles
His career coaching record — 120-109 — is not spectacular. But look at the context. In 1976, he took over a barren Eagles franchise that hadn’t had a winning season in a decade. In his fifth year, he made the Super Bowl. Seventeen years later, he joined a similarly dismal Rams team and, in his third season he won the Super Bowl. The ultimate franchise fixer.
3. Dick Allen, Phillies
He‘s up for consideration from baseball’s “Golden Era Committee” this year. But those mossback old-timers tend to vote for their chums, so it’s hard to project his odds. Allen didn’t rack up eye-popping career stats, partly because of the era and partly because he only had six seasons of over 130 games. But he’s a seven-time All-Star and five-time league leader in OPS. No one hit them harder and farther than the man called “Crash.”
4. Curt Schilling, Phillies
Curt’s bombastic way of expressing his views alienate people and hurt his chances, although he does have a shot for Cooperstown based on early voting this year. I always separate the artist from his politics. There’s rarely been a tougher big-game pitcher than Schilling, who won 216 regular-season games and 11 more in the postseason. His best years came elsewhere, but he was the Phils cornerstone starter in the 1990s.
5. Rod Brind’Amour, Flyers
The opposite of a guy like Dick Allen in that he never had spectacular seasons, but was an excellent player for two decades. Rod the Bod did it all — scored, passed, covered his man, killed penalties, won faceoffs. A great leader; now a top-flight coach.
6. Seth Joyner, Eagles
He’s the only player in NFL history with at least 50 sacks and 20 interceptions. A three-time Eagles MVP who was the kind of vicious playmaker the franchise lacked for years. He racked up more than 1,000 career tackles. Intimidating in his play and facial expressions.
That’s it. Sorry to disappoint fans of Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Bobby Abreu, and Scott Rolen. Apologies to partisans of Ron Hextall and Bill Bergey. They’re all further down my list.
Oh, and one more thing. Upper Darby’s Todd Rundgren belongs in the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. But that’s a topic for another day.