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Does Kelce belong among the all-time top 10 Eagles?


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Does Kelce belong among the all-time top 10 Eagles?


It’s a simple question without a simple answer.

Has Jason Kelce elevated himself into the all-time pantheon of the greatest Eagles of all-time? Is the former 6th-round pick from Cincinnati an all-time top-10 Eagle?

As Kelce mulls whether to return in 2022 for a 12th season with the Eagles, I set out to answer that question.

To start with, I had to come up with a list of the 10 greatest Eagles of all-time before Kelce’s emergence as a potential Hall of Famer.

To me, there are four slam-dunk, no-brainers on the list. Reggie White, Brian Dawkins, Steve Van Buren and Chuck Bednarik are the four greatest Eagles of all-time, and you can pick any order you want, but they have to be the top four.

To fill the six other spots, I considered 30 other Eagles greats, from old-timers like Bucko Kilroy, Pete Pihos and Maxie Baughan to Buddy-Era guys like Eric Allen, Seth Joyner and Clyde Simmons and recent players like Fletcher Cox, Donovan McNabb and LeSean McCoy.

Anybody who made 1st-team all-pro at least twice or the Pro Bowl at least five times is on this initial list.

Here are the 30 candidates for the final six spots in the top-10:

1940s: Al Wistert, Alex Wojciechowicz
1950s: Pete Pihos, Bucko Kilroy
1960s: Bob Brown, Pete Retzlaff, Tommy McDonald, Maxie Baughan
1970s: Harold Carmichael, Harold Jackson, Bill Bergey, Bill Bradley, Charlie Johnson
1980s: Mike Quick, Keith Jackson
1990s: Eric Allen, Seth Joyner, Clyde Simmons, Randall Cunningham, Jerome Brown
2000s: Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, Troy Vincent, Jeremiah Trotter, David Akers
2010s: Jason Peters, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Fletcher Cox, Zach Ertz

It’s hard comparing eras. But I needed a way to whittle this down. I started out by eliminating anybody who never made 1st-team all-pro as an Eagle. So that eliminated McNabb, DeSean Jackson, Harold Jackson, Cunningham, Kilroy, Ertz and three Hall of Famers - McDonald, Carmichael and Wojciechowicz.

So that got us down to 20 former Eagles for six spots.

Then I decided to eliminate guys whose Eagles careers were short. Jackson played here four years, Bob Brown, Jerome Brown and Charlie Johnson five years each, Baughan and Shady six years (thank you, Chip Kelly). 

That got us down to 14 finalists for six spots.

To try to get a handle on this group, I created a formula where I assigned each of the remaining guys a point total – one point for every Pro Bowl, one point for every championship as a starter and two points for every 1st-team all-pro. I was going to add a point for the Hall of Fame, but that’s not fair to those who aren’t eligible yet. And it wouldn’t have changed anything anyway.

Here’s how the final 14 guys lined up:

18 points … Pete Pihos
12 points … Jason Peters
10 points … Al Wistert
9 points … Mike Quick
9 points … Fletcher Cox
8 points … Bill Bergey
8 points … Pete Retzlaff
7 points … Bill Bradley
7 points … Troy Vincent
7 points … Eric Allen
7 points … David Akers
6 points … Clyde Simmons
6 points … Jeremiah Trotter
4 points … Brian Westbrook

Pretty clear Pihos and Peters earned two of the six remaining spots, and after I eliminated the seven guys who scored seven or fewer points in my formula, we were left with five guys fighting for four remaining spots: Wistert, Quick, Cox, Bergey and Retzlaff.

Now, the Pro Bowl didn’t exist until Wistert’s final NFL season – 1950 – and considering that he made all-pro 1st- or 2nd-team eight times, there’s no doubt he would have made a bunch more Pro Bowls if they existed. He gets a top-10 spot.

That leaves Quick, Cox, Bergey and Retzlaff for three spots. All had eight or nine points in our formula. Bergey is the only one with two all-pros. He stays. Retzlaff and Cox won NFL championships. They stay. Quick is the odd man out.

So our top 10 all-time is Reggie, Dawk, Van Buren, Bednarik, Pihos, Peters, Wistert, Cox, Bergey and Retzlaff. 

(By the way, of the four slam dunks, Bednarik got 22 points,White 19, Dawk 15 and Van Buren 12 - without the benefit of a Pro Bowl!)

Now, what about Kelce?

He’s now up to five Pro Bowls and four 1st-team all-pro honors along with a Super Bowl title. Using my point system, that puts him at 14, or 5th-highest in franchise history.

The only Eagles with four 1st-team all-pros and a championship are Kelce, Bednarik, Pihos, Van Buren and Wistert.

And while we probably shouldn’t give Kelce points for his Super Bowl parade speech, we can consider just what his leadership has meant to this team under four different coaches. 

And what’s most impressive about Kelce is that he’s truly reshaped the center position, helping transform it from a place to put a short, powerful, stubby guy who can’t run into a spot for an athlete who has a combination of speed, athleticism and power. Centers never used to run 30 yards down the field in front of a running back, looking for guys to block. Kelce does that routinely.

When you consider his unmatched durability, his spectacular production, his peerless leadership and his rare intelligence, it’s impossible to keep Kelce out of the top 10.

Here's what I came up with: 

1. Chuck Bednarik
2. Reggie White
3. Brian Dawkins
4. Steve Van Buren
5. Pete Pihos
6. Al Wistert
7. Jason Kelce
8. Jason Peters
9. Pete Retzlaff
10. Fletcher Cox

Bednarik, White, Dawkins and Van Buren form the first tier, and maybe one day Kelce will join them, but he’s not there yet. Pihos and Wistert are an elite second tier and Kelce leads the third tier, with J.P., Retzlaff and Cox also in the top 10.

But another couple Pro Bowls? Another couple all-pros? Who knows ... maybe another championship? If Kelce keeps playing, he can only move up.


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Concrete Charlie, Reggie and Dawk.

Best 3 ever and not even close IMO

Jerome could of been right up there...RIP

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Dawkins is my all time favorite Eagle, but Kelce is making a strong case for me.  Both of them embody and embraced being a Philadelphia Eagle.  Kelce's SB parade speech was the greatest thing I've ever heard an Eagles player say.

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