Alumni Alley runs every week on PhiladelphiaEagles.com and features a former Eagle who writes about his time in Philadelphia and his perspective after his NFL career ended. This week: Harold Carmichael, the team’s all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. A member of the franchise’s Hall of Fame, Carmichael is in his 16th season as the team’s Director of Player Programs.
Our football season of 1980 was a very special one for everybody associated with the Philadelphia Eagles. We had an incredibly tight bond in the locker room and a very good team on the field, and as a result we beat the Dallas Cowboys and advanced to Super Bowl XV to play the Oakland Raiders.
It’s appropriate as this current Eagles team prepares for Sunday’s game in Oakland that we talk just a little bit about the Super Bowl and what it meant to me then and what it means to me now.
Losing that game, 27-10, was a tremendous disappointment. It remains to this day the single regret I have from the game of football, which has blessed me with so much on and off the field. We felt we were the better team going into the game – we had beaten Oakland 10-7 earlier that year – and I still, to this day, believe that if we played Oakland again we would have beaten them.
But that’s not the way the game is played, and so we have to accept the defeat. It wasn’t easy then and it isn’t easy now. It still pains me to think of that afternoon in New Orleans. We picked the worst time to play poorly, as a team. Oakland deserved to win. The Raiders played a better game.
I think I’ve been reminded of that loss every day since then. And that isn’t a bad thing. I know how badly Eagles fans wanted to win the game – they were awesome every day I played for the team and they’ve been the same since I’ve been here in the administration. These fans deserve a Super Bowl. It’s going to be quite a party when it happens.
The players on that Eagles Super Bowl team still have a very close bond. We get together quite a bit and talk about the old times and the great moments we shared. I still wear the NFC Championship ring proudly. I know it’s a second-place ring, but there aren’t many players who have been to an NFC Championship Game in their careers, much less a Super Bowl. It was a remarkable feeling of accomplishment to make it, and it was just as much of a crushing feeling to come out of New Orleans without the Lombardi Trophy.
I’ve often been asked about how long it’s taken me to get over that loss, and the truth is that a part of the pain will always be there for me. Life goes on, of course, and I have so many things to be happy for. I loved playing in Philadelphia and I chose to remain here after my playing days were over because of the way the fans accepted me and my family into the area. I love it here. I love the fans.
Playing the Raiders on Sunday brings back memories for me. Not all of them are good, because we lost the Super Bowl to Oakland. Being in that position and having had the opportunity to play in a Super Bowl was so special, though. We treated it as we treated every other game. The feeling was that we needed to remain consistent with the things we had done to bring us to that point in the season.
At the end of the day, I still have wonderful friendships with my teammates and a life filled with great moments and good times, so there are no complaints. But I admit that the pain is there, if only a little bit, from the one game we didn’t win – Super Bowl XV in New Orleans against the Oakland Raiders.