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A Look Back At Honorary Alumni Captains of 2015


Throughout the 2015 season, the Philadelphia Eagles paid tribute to some of the all-time greats in franchise history by recognizing them as Honorary Alumni Captains. For each home game at Lincoln Financial Field, captains were selected to take part in various pre-game, as well as, in-game appearances and activities. In 2015, a total of fourteen Alumni Captains were honored, and their duties ranged from: an on-air interview with SportsRadio 94WIP's Pre-Game Show from HeadHouse Plaza, a meet and greet with a group of Season Ticket Members, leading the Pep Band in singing the Eagles Fight Song, assisting with the coin toss, and being featured on the video board that highlighted career accomplishments during the 1stquarter break.

Frank LeMaster served as the first Honorary Alumni Captain of the season, during the August 16th game against the Indianapolis Colts. A fourth round draft pick (89th overall) of the Eagles in 1974, LeMaster spent his entire 9-year career in Philadelphia. Known for his toughness and durability, LeMaster never missed a game in nine seasons, and started 115 consecutive regular season contests from 1975-1982. LeMaster was a key piece of the Eagles 1980 NFC Championship team, and was named to the Pro Bowl following the 1981 season.  For his career, the linebacker totaled 10 interceptions (including 2 returned for TD's), 7 fumble recoveries and two sacks.

In Week 2 of the Pre-Season, William Fuller was the Honorary Alumni Captain against the Baltimore Ravens. Fuller spent three seasons with the Eagles (1994-1996), and was named a Pro Bowl defensive end in each of them. In 46 career games with the Eagles, Fuller racked up 35.5 sacks, including 13 a piece in '95 and '96.

For the regular season home opener on September 20th, the Eagles honored the late Chuck Bednarik. Chuck's wife, Emma, along with his five daughters, fulfilled the captain duties in his honor. The Eagles dedicated the 2015 season to Bednarik, as the team sported "60" stickers on their helmets throughout the year. Bednarik still holds the franchise record for most seasons played with the Eagles (14), and is affectionately referred to as "Concrete Charlie" for his toughness and durability as the NFL's last two-way player.

On October 11th, a visit from the New Orleans Saints brought Sheldon Brown on hand as Honorary Alumni Captain. After being selected in the second round of the 2002 draft, Brown spent the first eight years of his stellar career in Philadelphia, while never missing a game. Over that time, Brown totaled 19 interceptions (including a career-high 5 in 2009), to go along with 7 sacks and 349 tackles. Perhaps his most memorable moment came during a 2006 playoff game against the Saints, when running back Reggie Bush caught a swing pass and was leveled by Brown—a hit so devastating, that it is still remembered and talked about by Eagles fans everywhere.

Brian Westbrook and Maxie Baughan served as Co-Honorary Alumni Captains during their Eagles Hall of Fame Induction night on October 19th against the New York Giants. Baughan was the 20th overall pick in the 1960 NFL Draft, and played a key role on the 1960 NFL Championship team, starting every game at Linebacker and earning the first of his five Pro Bowl trips as an Eagle. In six seasons with the Eagles, Baughan made 80 starts, accumulating 7 interceptions, to go along with 5 fumble recoveries. Brian Westbrook, widely regarded as the best dual-threat back in franchised history, finished his career as the organization's all-time leader in yards from scrimmage (9,785). A two-time Pro Bowler, Westbrook is best remembered for making electrifying plays, like his game-winning 84-yard punt return touchdown against the Giants in 2003, as well as helping lead the Eagles to a berth in Super Bowl XXXIX the following season.

Bill Bradley was named the Honorary Alumni Captain for the November 15th meeting with the Dolphins. A member of the Eagles Hall of Fame, Bradley was a jack-of-all-trades during his 8-year tenure in Philadelphia, playing safety, as well as, punting, holding and returning kicks. Best known for his work in the secondary, Bradley was selected to three straight Pro Bowls from 1971-73, while leading the league in interceptions in both '71 (11) and '72 (9). Bradley is tied with Brian Dawkins and Eric Allen for the most interceptions in franchise history with 34.

On November 22nd, fans welcomed back Eagles' Hall of Famers and 1980 NFC Champions Ron Jaworski, Harold Carmichael and Bill Bergey as Honorary Alumni Tri-Captain's. Jaworski fired 27 touchdown passes that season, en route to the Pro Bowl and a berth in Super Bowl XV. Carmichael, the franchise's all-time leader in both receptions (589) and receiving yards (8,978), used his superior size and athleticism to haul in 9 touchdowns in 1980. Bill Bergey, a four-time Pro Bowler and two-time First-Team All-Pro during his time in Philadelphia, started all 16 games at linebacker in 1980, anchoring a stout Eagles defense while recording an interception and 2 fumble recoveries.    

As the Buffalo Bills came to town on December 13th, Pete Retzlaff, the 1965 NFL MVP, took his place as the Honorary Alumni Captain of the Game. During an 11-year NFL career, all of which he spent with Philadelphia, Retzlaff was a lethal receiving threat who was named to five Pro Bowls and helped lead the Eagles to the 1960 NFL Championship. In total, Retzlaff hauled in 452 passes for 7,412 yards and 47 touchdowns. Among other honors, Retzlaff's No. 44 was retired by the Eagles and he was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame in 1989. Following his stellar playing career, Retzlaff also served in the Eagles front office, holding the post of General Manager from 1969-1972.

For the December 20th primetime matchup with Arizona, Lehigh Valley native John Spagnola was recognized as the Honorary Alumni Captain. Spagnola successfully overcame the odds of being a 9th round pick and put together a solid 10-year NFL career, the first eight of which he spent in Philadelphia. A versatile blocker and pass-catcher, Spagnola amassed 256 receptions for 2,833 yards and 14 touchdowns in his Eagles career, including back-to-back 700 yard receiving seasons in 1984 and 1985. In the home finale, the Eagles paid tribute to the 2004 NFC Championship team with Jon Runyan and Derrick Burgess serving as Honorary Alumni Co-Captains. Runyan helped anchor the offensive line at right tackle from 2000-2008, starting a remarkable 144 consecutive games, which ranks first in franchise history amongst offensive lineman. For his efforts, he was selected to the Philadelphia Eagles 75th Anniversary Team, as well as earning Pro Bowl honors in 2002. On the other side of the ball, defensive end Derrick Burgess contributed to a defense that finished third overall in 2004. Burgess turned in superior play during the postseason, recording a pair of sacks in the NFC Championship game, as well as the Eagles only QB takedown of Super Bowl XXXIX.

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