The 10 biggest athletic stars who played for the Eagles originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
When the Eagles signed Olympic double hurdler Devon Allen on Friday, we wondered who were the best track athletes in Eagles history.
What we found was a franchise rich in track talent and even a handful of Olympians.
So here is our list of 10 running stars in Eagles history, most of whom were far better known for their on-track accomplishments than what they did with the Eagles.
They didn’t all play for the Eagles in the regular season, but they were all part of the organization to some degree at some point.
In addition to the top 10, I also have a list of 10 honorable mentions, just to annoy track-enthusiast Dave Zangaro.
Hank Basketball: At the 2001 New Mexico High School Track and Field Championships in Albuquerque, Baskett went 7-0 ¼ in the high jump, winning the state title as a senior at Clovis High. In New Mexico, he won the Mountain West title in 2004 with a 6-11 clearance. Baskett made the Eagles as an undrafted rookie in 2006 and caught 72 passes for 1,052 yards and six touchdowns in three seasons. He is one of five players in NFL history with three career touchdowns of at least 85 yards and the only one who has not been drafted. He is responsible for three of the 11 longest touchdown catches in franchise history.
Frank Budd: Budd played track and football at Asbury Park High School, but focused on track at Villanova, where he won three NCAA titles. He set the world record for the 100-yard sprint at Downing Stadium in New York in 1961 and ran the American world record for the 400-meter relay a month later in Moscow. The Eagles drafted Budd in the 7th round in 1962 and he caught five passes for 130 yards as a rookie, including a 49-yard touchdown from Sonny Jurgensen in a win over Washington. He spent 1963 with Washington before playing with the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL for two years. After football, Budd moved to Mount Laurel and worked for the New Jersey Department of Corrections. He died in 2014.
John Carlos: Carlos won the bronze medal in the 200m at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, where he and 200m gold medalist Tommie Smith raised their fists in a black power salute on the podium. Carlos then tied the world record at the 100. The Eagles drafted Carlos in the 15th round in 1970, and he spent the year on the equivalent of what is now called the practice squad. A year later, the Eagles drafted Harold Carmichael in the 7th round, and a roster battle between Carlos and Carmichael unfolded in the final days of preseason before the Eagles decided to keep Carmichael and release Charles.
Sam Francois: How about Francis’ accomplishments in 1936. Nebraska halfback, he was a Heisman Trophy finalist and competed for the Huskers track and field team, he competed in the Olympics in the shot put in Berlin, placing 4th at 50-8 ¼, missing the podium by about six inches. The Eagles selected Francis with the first pick in the 1937 draft, but traded him to the Bears for Bill Hewitt before he played a down as an Eagle. But we will still claim it as a former Eagle.
TJ Jackson: Jackson was a track and football star in Illinois, where he played on the Illinois team that beat Washington in the 1963 Rose Bowl, and he also won Big Ten titles in the 100 (9.5) and 220 (21.3) and anchored the 440- yard relay team. He also anchored an Illinois 440 relay team that won the NCAA title, and he set an NCAA record in the 100 of 10.1. Jackson participated in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, where he reached the semifinals of the 100. He made the Eagles in 1966 as an undrafted rookie receiver and played in three games.
James Lofton: In 1978, Lofton jumped the 27-foot long at the US Championships at UCLA’s Drake Stadium, at the time No. 7 in US history and No. 14 in world history. Lofton, then a Stanford senior, also ran 20.83 in the 200 and 46.4 in the 400. He retired from the track after that 27-foot jump and embarked on a Hall of Fame career in the NFL, ending with the Eagles in 1993. The 764th and final catch of his career was a Bubby Brister 32-yarder against the 49ers at Candlestick Park on the last day of the 1993 season.
Vince Papal: Like Budd, Papale ran track and played football in high school, then focused on the track at a Big 5 school—for Papale, that was St. Joe’s. He went 14-6 in the pole vault in a meet at Madison Square Garden in February 1968, and 54 years later, that remains St. Joe’s indoor school record. He also did a 46-6 triple jump, a 22-1 ¼ long jump and competed in the decathlon. As immortalized in the Mark Wahlberg movie Invincible, Papale made the Eagles as a 30-year-old rookie in 1976 and spent three years here, mostly playing special teams.
Mike Quick: Quick is one of the greatest hurdlers in North Carolina State history, and at one point considered pursuing the trail more seriously before blossoming as a wide receiver. Quick ran 13.74 in the 110 meter highs in 1982, to date No. 3 in Wolfpack history. Indoors, he ran 7.43 for the heights of 55 yards, still No. 8 in school history. After catching 10 passes as a rookie, Quick embarked on the biggest five-year streak in franchise history, averaging nearly 1,100 yards and 10 ½ touchdowns and posting five straight Pro Bowls. .
Clyde Scott: Scott was an All-America running back at Arkansas, but in 1948 he competed in the 110-meter hurdles at the London Olympics, where he won the silver medal in 14.1, finishing behind only the American William Porter (who took to the track while attending Hill School in Pottstown). The Eagles drafted Scott in the 1st round in 1948, and he spent four years here, rushing 100 times for 400 yards and two touchdowns and catching 19 passes for 381 yards and four more touchdowns.
Michael Timson: He didn’t have much of a career with the Eagles — 42 catches for 484 yards and two touchdowns in 1997, his only year in Philadelphia — but Timpson was a world-class sprinter at Penn State. He set four school records in 1986 and all of them lasted over 10 years. His PRs of 20.23 for the 200 meters, 13.80 for the 110 hurdles, and 50.54 for the 400 intermediates (at the 1988 Penn Relays) all remain among the fastest in PSU history. He competed in the 200m at the US Olympic trials in Indianapolis in 1988.
Todd Bell: In the late 1970s, Middletown High senior Todd Bell won three state long jump titles, and in 1977 set a 25-5 high school long jump record in Ohio, breaking a 44-year record set by the legendary Jesse Owens in 1933 – three years before winning four Olympic gold medals in Berlin. Bell ended his nine-year NFL career as a starting linebacker with the Eagles in 1988 and 1989 under Buddy Ryan, who coached him with the Bears.
Martin Booker: Booker, a Camden graduate, took 3rd place in the 110 hurdles at the 1986 NCAA Championships in Indianapolis for Villanova. He spent three years on and off the Eagles practice squad during the Buddy Ryan years before becoming one of the most successful running coaches in South Jersey history at high schools in Camden and Willingboro.
Michael Carter: The 1984 Olympic gold medalist in the shot put has held the national high school shot put record of 81-3 ½ for 43 years. When he was with the Eagles in the 1993 preseason, he wouldn’t talk to me about his career on the track. Surly guy. Had a great career – three Pro Bowls, three Super Bowl rings and an Olympic medal.
Mark Duper: After his stellar career with the Dolphins, the three-time Pro Bowler spent 1993 training camp with the Eagles, qualifying him for our list. Duper ran 10.21 and 20.77 in 1982 and competed in the 1980 Olympic Trials in both events. He also anchored Northwest Louisiana to the NCAA 400-meter relay title in 1982.
Marquise Goodwin: He pulled out of the 2020 season due to COVID, but the Eagles retained his rights for a year, making him eligible for this roster. Goodwin was a two-time NCAA long jump champion and 2012 Olympic finalist, placing 10th overall. His 27-8 ½ PR ranks No. 48 in world history and No. 20 in United States history.
Dietrich Gels: Prior to spending the 1998 and 1999 seasons with the Eagles, Jells was a formidable sprinter at Pitt. He ran 10.37 and 20.96 in 1995 and also anchored Pitt’s 400-meter relay team at a 40.04, a school record that still stands. Jells caught just 13 passes as an Eagle, but one was a 57-yard TD from Doug Pederson against the Bears, the 2nd longest TD pass of Pederson’s career.
Izel Jenkins: Yes, good old Bagel Chips was a pretty good intermediate hurdler back then. Jenkins ran 50.58 in 1986 and to this day ranks #3 in North Carolina State history. Jenkins was also the 1984 ACC champion in the 400IH and an indoor All-America with a 2nd-place finish in the 500 at the 1984 NCAA championships. Jenkins, the Eagles’ 1988 11th-round pick, spent five years with the Eagles, starting 28 games. He had four interceptions in 1989.
Rahim Mostert: Mostert only raced on the track for one year at Purdue, but in 2014 he won four Big Ten titles – the 60 and 200 indoors and the 100 and 200 outdoors, and he was named MVP of both competitions. Mostert had PRs of 6.63 and 20.73 indoors and 10.15 (wind assist) and 10.28 and 20.65 outdoors. All rank in the top 5 in Purdue history. Mostert — who has the highest run average by a running back in NFL history — began his NFL career with the Eagles practice squad in 2014.
Philip Reilly: The Eagles’ 6th-round draft pick in 1996 was Florida State WR Phillip Riley, who ran 10.31 for the 100 and 13.39 for the 110 hurdles for Florida State in 1996 and competed in hurdles at Trials Olympics in Atlanta. He didn’t make the Eagles’ rookie roster, but played briefly with the Jets.
Terry Strouf: OK, who remembers offensive tackle Terry Strouf? He was the 7th round pick of the Wisconsin-LaCrosse Eagles in 1990. Strouf never made it in the NFL, but after the Eagles released him, he came back on the track and started the shot 67-3 at the La Crosse Classic, the No. 5 launch in the world in 1992.
Kary Vincent: The only current Eagle on this list, Vincent ran a slightly wind-assisted 100 (10.07) for LSU in 2019, but had a legal 10.36 and also ran 20.71. He also ran on LSU 400 and 800 meter relay teams that ran 38.37 (#16 in the world in 2019) and 1:21.47 (#8 in the world in 2019).