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: Maxie Baughan, a five-time Pro Bowl linebacker in his six seasons as an Eagle from 1960-65. Baughan was then traded to Los Angeles and made the Pro Bowl four more times. He was named to the All-Pro team four times in his career. Baughan then coached in the NFL and at Cornell before retiring from coaching in 1998 ...
I was a second-round draft pick of the Eagles in 1960 and found myself on the field as a starter immediately. It was quite a way to start my NFL career. The coaches threw me out there and all I said was, “Yes, sir,” and, “No, sir,” and just played the game. I made the Pro Bowl, was named an All-Pro and we won the NFL Championship. I thought it would be easy after that! I said, “There ain’t nothing to this!” As it turned out, I never made it back to the Super Bowl or the championship again.
My mentality was that I was just glad to be in the NFL during that time. I had a fear every day that I was going to get cut, so anything the coaches asked, I did it. Then, I looked across the line and saw Chuck Bednarik and he was playing both sides of the ball. He was 40 years old, playing more offense than defense in that season, and I figured that if Chuck could do it at age 40, I sure as heck could do it.
Playing in a playoff situation, as this current Eagles team is doing, is a thrill. You never take it for granted. I was young and I just listened to what the veterans and the coaches told me to do, and that’s probably the best advice for the young players on this roster now who have not been through it. As the season gets later, the intensity increases and the pace of the game gets faster. It’s fun, but you can feel the intensity.
Philadelphia responded to us and we had a wonderful season. Winning the Championship set off a celebration in and around the city. We had a family bond with the fans. In fact, the players who were single, and I was single at the time, would have invitations from fans to have dinner at their houses during the holidays. It was wonderful.
I very much enjoyed my career in Philadelphia and then I was traded after the 1965 season. We weren’t a very good team and Joe Kuharich, our head coach, traded away some of our best players. I asked to be traded to either New York, where the money was, or Atlanta, where I was from and Jerry Wolman traded me to Los Angeles. It was probably my fault that I was traded. We just weren’t a very good team. We were headed in the wrong direction and the team wanted change and I wanted change. So I went to Los Angeles and met George Allen, who was instrumental in my future coaching career.
I’m watching the Eagles closely these days. I met Coach Chip Kelly at an alumni reception when he was hired and he’s an impressive person. I’m rooting for him.
For all of the players, especially the young rookies, my advice is this: Enjoy it. You never know when you’re going to be in position to make it to the playoffs. Don’t take it for granted. Play great football and have fun.