Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Ex-Eagles playmaker, ‘mentor’ of Donovan McNabb, dies aged 50

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Former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Charles Johnson has died at the age of 50, according to his alma mater University of Colorado. A cause of death was not immediately given.

Johnson was drafted 17th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1994 NFL Draft. He played a total of nine seasons during his stints with the Steelers, Eagles, Bills and Patriots. He retired in 2003 after amassing 354 receptions for 4,606 yards and 24 touchdowns. The California native won a Super Bowl in 2001 as a member of the Patriots.

His time in the midnight green jersey was short but very important. Johnson was signed as a free agent in 1999 – five years and $15 million – and helped usher in the Andy Reid era in Philly. He and Torrance Small soon became the two top receiving options for then-rookie quarterback Donovan McNabb. Chad Lewis was the starting tight end.

Johnson led all Eagles wide receivers for 642 yards in 2000; He recorded 90 receptions for 1,056 yards and 8 touchdowns in 27 games. Johnson was viewed as “Mentor” by McNabb in those culture-forming years. He showed these young teams how to win.

Here’s Johnson commenting on a 26-yard scramble from McNabb where he threw a defender over the hurdles during a 23-20 win over Washington in 2000: “I didn’t even know he was the one scrambling ‘ Johnson said of the Los Angeles Times. “I thought it was a running back, which I blocked for. I saw him jump in the air and – Oh! – I didn’t know he had some hops.”

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Dick Vermeil will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 6th in Canton, Ohio. The legendary Eagles coach will be the closing speaker of the Class of 2022 Enshrinement, which includes LeRoy Butler, Sam Mills, Richard Seymour, Art McNally, Tony Boselli, Bryant Young, Cliff Branch and Vermeil. Tickets for the ceremony are available (click here).

For those wondering, Vermeil will go down in football immortality as an eagle. He never had a second thought.

“I didn’t need time (to think about it). I’m going in as an Eagle,” Vermeil told 97.5 The Fanatic. “I live here, I’ve trained here the longest, this is my home.”

Vermeil coached 15 seasons in the NFL, highlighted by a seven-year stint in Philadelphia. He recorded 126 career wins and retired in 2005 with three division titles and a Super Bowl ring. He went 57-51 during his seven seasons patrolling the Eagles touchline before leaving due to “burnout.” Vermeil is credited with turning the franchise from loveable losers into championship contenders.

The New York Jets are signing cornerback Craig James, according to Pro Football Talk. That Eagle released their former captain and special team ace on July 18th.

James played in 18 games for the Eagles over two seasons before being relegated to the practice roster in 2021. He leaves town with 17 total tackles, a broken pass and a fumble recovery. He saw 83 defensive snaps and 317 special teams snaps.

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