The Eagles announced on Wednesday night that the most prolific kicker in franchise history, David Akers, will be the Eagles Hall of Fame inductee for 2017. Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie revealed the news at the Taking Flight for Autism fundraiser at Lincoln Financial Field. Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro hosted a Q&A session with Akers in front of the crowd. Here are some of the highlights:
David Akers' Opening Remarks: "Thank you, Mr. Lurie. It's such an honor to be up here. Merrill Reese, thank you for (the introduction). My goodness, you are the best call in all of sports hands down, and obviously a Hall of Famer here as well. Thank you, sir."
The road to the Hall of Fame was not an easy one. What do you recall about your tryout for the team back in 1998: "Yes, it was my worst tryout I had with any NFL team. Then we fly back to Atlanta. The team hadn't said anything to me. I fly back down, it was right before Christmas. I was about to travel out to see my family, my wife's (Erika) family. She said, 'How, did it go?' I said it was terrible. It was a waste of time. She goes, 'That's funny. Your agent called and the Eagles want to sign you.'
"At that time John Harbaugh and Mike McCartney and Tom Modrak and those guys, they were either really prophetic or they really just got lucky. It was a lot of hard work. To be back at NovaCare today, and to see the corridor where the players come out, you know when we were at the Vet at that time, we were trying out on a field that was on top of asphalt and then they had the original bubble over there. It was just kind interesting because I remember having to move dog poop at times before practice before people would come over, but now you have this Taj Mahal over here with the NovaCare Complex. It's so gorgeous, but it's the people who came before that who paved the way to where we are now to see this 2017 team come out that we're all hoping to root for that Super Bowl.
"We never quite got to the point where we could get the ring. Every time I watch the Eagles play, a little bit of me is still out on that field hoping and praying and thinking they can get that championship ring so that drive I came down Broad Street today can be filled with Eagles fans that I just love so much as we can support the Eagles and say, 'Yes, we finally got it!'"
What was it like to get the call that you're being inducted into the Eagles Hall of Fame: "It's just humbling. I can't believe how fast time has flown by. I was able to play here 12 years, but then it's been seven since I've been here. I told Mr. Lurie it's wonderful to be back in a positive light because the last time I walked off the field, it's not the way you envision going out. This, to me, is just all humbling. I just can't share the gratitude that I have for Mr. Lurie, the Eagles organization for giving me three contracts to play here which is unheard of to play that long, and the town has supported me just unbelievably. Tonight is a reconnection of friends, wishing Doug Pederson the best luck as he was my first holder back in '99. I've lost hair and his hair is gray. He's the one who taught Koy (Detmer) how to do it. It was cutting edge at the time, but that's why Doug was so good at what he did."
Being here at Lincoln Financial Field once again, do you vividly remember those great memories: "It's electric here. It's something special just to see when the fireworks go off, it just takes you back. It kick-started my heart, it was playing a lot when I kicked off. We do a lot of family stuff on the water. My kids have to surf to kick-start my heart. It's just something about it. My little son, Sawyer, he's just all into Rocky. We had to go run the steps today. Why? Because it's Philly. That's what's inbred into us now. We've been adopted by the city and we just love it. This is who we are."
The Eagles hosted Taking Flight for Autism at Lincoln Financial Field, which benefits autism research and programs at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia via the Eagles Charitable Foundation.
Your onside kick to open the 2000 season in Dallas set the tone for an entire era. What was that moment like: "Andy Reid came to me about five minutes before the game and said, 'We're going to start the game with an onside kick.' 'Whoa, coach! I'm just hoping to make the team.' That's like Week 1 here, I'm not a veteran or anything of that nature. Norm Johnson was here the year before. I basically did long field goals and maybe kickoffs. Every Tuesday at 4 o'clock, I was thrilled to get another week's worth of pay, you know? I was like, 'Man, don't screw this up.' Dameane Douglas recovers it and we ended up just obviously having a great game. Duce (Staley), he just went off that day. To be able to beat the Cowboys, we owned the Cowboys for many, many years."
After being released multiple times, how did you find the desire to keep chasing your dream: "A lot of that is due to my wife. I was ready to quit after the Redskins. My first kickoff in the NFL went 90 yards for a touchdown the other way. This was not a good day. Then I miss a 49- and a 48-yard field goal and I was released two days later. I was done. My wife said, 'Why don't you give it one more try?' As you would say, the rest is history.
"Having somebody that believes in you like Coach Reid did and Jim Johnson, believe it or not, was a big guy in my corner because of kickoffs at the time. Again, I can't share the amount of gratitude I have for Mr. Lurie, for Andy Reid, Howie coming in during that time, and all of the people who said, 'We're going to give you this chance.' I was talking to some of the players today about how quickly it all goes. You look back and you think about all the things that come together. The camaraderie in the locker room, just seeing all the walks of life, that's what America is, what's inside the NFL locker room, and it's awesome. When you see it all come together and you can hoist up that Lombardy Trophy, which I can see the Eagles doing, that's what makes it all come together."
The Eagles are proud to announce kicker David Akers as the 2017 Eagles Hall of Fame inductee. Take a look back at his historic career.