Al Wistert, one of only nine players in franchise history to have his jersey number retired, passed away on Saturday evening at the age of 95.
Wistert played his entire nine-year NFL career in Philadelphia. He was an All-Pro selection in eight of those seasons and played in the first Pro Bowl in 1951. A two-way tackle, Wistert was a captain on the back-to-back NFL championship teams of 1948 and '49. Wistert was a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 1940s as well as the first Eagle to have his jersey number retired in 1952.
"It's hard for me to believe that he's not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame," Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie said.
A native of Chicago, Wistert was inducted into the Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Fame in 2009 and is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
Known as "Ox" by his teammates, Wistert was drafted in the fifth round by the Eagles out of Michigan in 1943. That was the year when the Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers combined to form the Steagles due to World War II.
“There was a war going on. People were doing the best they could to get by. It was a miracle they kept the league going, really,” Wistert told Ray Didinger.
Prior to Wistert's arrival, the Eagles never finished .500 or better in a season. The Eagles played in three championship games, won two, and had a .500 record or better in eight of Wistert's nine years. In fact, the Eagles had a .649 win percentage during Wistert's career.
On offense, the Eagles led the league in rushing and scoring three times during Wistert's tenure. Defensively, the Eagles ranked first in points allowed twice and yards allowed three times. The Eagles never accomplished any of those feats before Wistert was drafted.
“He was as fine a blocker as you could want. He didn’t have the size to overpower people on the pass block, but he was a master of every kind of block,” said Pro Football Hall of Fame coach George Allen in his book, Pro Football's 100 Greatest Players.
“He always played in perfect position and was seldom off his feet. He was a superb pursuit man and seemed somehow to get in on every play. He was a sure tackler. He was maybe best against the run, but he was among the good early pass rushers.”
Wistert may be gone, but his impact on the franchise will be remembered every time his No. 70 is seen hanging atop Lincoln Financial Field.
Here's more on the passing of a legend:
"It's hard for me to believe that he's not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame." - Jeffrey Lurie on Al Wistert pic.twitter.com/hzEqzUnhbM— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) March 6, 2016