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Eagles mourn the passing of Pro Bowl quarterback, philanthropist Roman Gabriel  


The Eagles mourn the passing of former quarterback Roman Gabriel on Saturday, April 20, at the age of 83.

Gabriel's son, Roman Gabriel III, announced his father's peaceful passing in a post on X.

Selected with the second-overall pick in the 1962 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams, Gabriel became the first Filipino-American quarterback in league history.

Before spending the last five years of his career with the Eagles (1973-77), Gabriel played his first 11 seasons with the Rams. During his time in Los Angeles, Gabriel was a three-time Pro Bowler, first-team All-Pro, and 1969 AP NFL MVP.

Various injuries in his final few seasons with the Rams led to Gabriel becoming available in trade talks, and that's when the Eagles swooped in before the 1973 season. The Eagles dealt star receiver Harold Jackson and two first-round draft picks to the Rams to acquire the former MVP.

33 at the time, Gabriel's move to Philadelphia rejuvenated his stellar career. In 53 games with the Eagles, Gabriel threw for 7,221 yards and 47 touchdowns, made his fourth Pro Bowl, and won PFWA Comeback Player of the Year.

During his Comeback Player of the Year season in 1973, Gabriel, standing at 6-5, threw to a trio of pass catchers known as the Fire High Gang that towered over defenders. Wide receiver and Pro Football Hall of Famer Harold Carmichael (6-8), tight end Charle Young (6-5), and wide receiver Don Zimmerman (6-4) helped Gabriel establish career highs in completions (270) and passing yards (3,219). While leading the league in those categories, Gabriel also led the league with 24 passing touchdowns.

"That was a fun year," said Gabriel during a 2019 interview with "I was pretty much written off after my last year with the Rams. But the Eagles took a chance on me, and I was so grateful. It was a young team that was trying to build something, and they wanted me to be a part of it. I loved Philadelphia. It's a great city with great fans. It's still a great memory.".

Gabriel retired with the Eagles in 1977, his 16th and final season in the NFL. In Eagles history, Gabriel is currently ninth in completion percentage (55.8), 10th in passing attempts (1,185), and 13th in passing yards (7,221).

In 1989, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. At North Carolina State, Gabriel was named Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year in 1960 and '61, became the first ACC quarterback to throw for over 1,000 yards in a season, and was a member of NC State's inaugural athletic Hall of Fame class in 2012.

Off the field, Gabriel was heavily involved in local charities.

In 1974, Gabriel's second season with the team, his teammate, tight end Fred Hill's daughter, Kim, was battling leukemia. The Hills and other parents were camping out at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia while their kids underwent treatment. This is when the Hills realized that there needed to be a housing solution for families that traveled long distances and couldn't afford hotels.

The Eagles partnered with CHOP and McDonald's to start a promotion where all proceeds from Shamrock Shakes sold would go toward buying an old house near the hospital for families. Gabriel was one of the faces of the charitable promotion, and the house he helped raise funds for became the first Ronald McDonald House in the country, located at 3925 Chestnut Street.

Inspired by the opening of the first-ever Ronald McDonald House, Gabriel later opened the first Ronald McDonald House in his home state, North Carolina.

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