Philadelphia Eagles News

Where are they now? DT Harvey Armstrong

Harvey Armstrong
Harvey Armstrong

A two-time All-Southwest Conference defensive tackle at SMU, the Eagles may have been glad to see that Harvey Armstrong was still available in the seventh round of the 1982 NFL Draft.

Armstrong, on the other hand, was less than pleased.

"I guess I'm going to be transparent. I was mad," Armstrong says. "I was told by the mock drafts that I would be in the second or third round. I didn't get drafted until the second day. And when Coach (Dick) Vermeil called, I was excited to hear him say that they might pick me, but I was so disappointed from the day before.

"My first reaction was I'm going to show them. I'm going to go play in the Canadian League. But my real reaction was, I was excited that the Eagles did call."

The only defensive lineman chosen by the Eagles that year, Armstrong would become even more excited once he got to Philadelphia. For a couple of reasons.

"I had a great rookie camp. Wilbert Montgomery was there for one of our practices, and he called my name," Armstrong says. "Of course, I grew up watching Wilbert Montgomery. I thought he was such an awesome player. He killed the Cowboys and I was a Cowboy hater in college. So I was so intrigued when he called my name. He knew who I was in rookie camp! That was just a blessing and such an exciting moment.

"Now, who took me under their wings were Carl Hairston and Harold Carmichael. They showed me how to do things. I had my initials – MR HLA – on my license plate, and they said, 'That's too far gone. That's too out there. Take it off.' They kind of made me calm down and face reality.

"I talk to Harold on a regular basis now. He's just been such a mentor to me and my family. He and his wife. I mean, they took me into their home and fed me. So, man, that was a blessing."

Two games into his rookie season, Armstrong, his teammates, and every other player in the NFL got unexpected time off when they went on strike.

"It was exciting for me because I got to go home after making an NFL team. I knew we wanted better benefits and more pay, but for a rookie, I was fine. I was finally getting paid for something that I loved doing for free," Armstrong laughed.

Armstrong wasn't used to being on strike. Especially for the 57 days that it lasted. But he felt fortunate to go through the experience while being guided by veteran teammates.

"They kind of led by example," Armstrong says. "We had so much respect for them. Most of my rookie class – that's Mike Quick, Vyto Kab, Lawrence Sampleton, Dennis DeVaughn – we all were so intrigued with their work habits and their work ethic, that whatever they did, we did. If they walked, we walked. So it wasn't like, 'You're going to do this, rookie.' It was just their leadership was so awesome that when they did things, we just followed."

Shortly after the 1982 season ended, Head Coach Dick Vermeil retired after seven seasons and leading the Eagles into the playoffs five consecutive years.

"I was bummed out. I thought the world of that man, to take a chance on me, for allowing me to make the team," Armstrong says. "And for him to just leave when he had so much energy. He was so emotional in our pregame speeches. He would cry and I thought that was so awesome to see a grown man with that kind of success, because they had just gone to the Super Bowl before I got there, in '81.

"And to see him step down... When I heard that news, I was devastated. I really was. I was almost in tears because I just thought so much of him as a person, as a man, as a coach. And now you're leaving? No, you can't do that. But I understood once I got into the league, how it can burn you out. And he'd put so much energy into it."

Granted, the Eagles didn't enjoy their best seasons when Armstrong was with them from 1982-84, compiling a 12-26-1 record. But what are his fondest memories from those days?

"Beating the Cowboys. That was one of my greatest moments. We beat them, 24-20 (at Texas Stadium my rookie year)," says Armstrong, who posted 6.5 of his 13 career sacks as an Eagle. "And making the team, when (Defensive Coordinator Marion) Campbell called and told me that I would be on the final 45-man roster. That was one of my best memories. But beating the Cowboys would be kind of the icing on the cake."

The Indianapolis Colts were basically still finishing off the "Welcome to the Neighborhood" cake after relocating from Baltimore, when Armstrong joined them in 1986 and played there for five seasons. Did he notice a difference between the Colts and the Eagles' fan bases?

"In all caps, YES," Armstrong laughed. "Colt fans were just getting a team. There wasn't an attachment. But the Eagles fans were passionate. They had the true education and understanding of the game. They knew every man on that roster. They knew my mother's name. So to answer your question, it was a major night and day difference between the fans in Indianapolis and Philadelphia.

"The Eagles fans were awesome. They could cheer you and they could boo you. You had to represent and put a good product on the field. And if you did, they would love you. And if you didn't, they would tell you. They'd show you that's not the way you do it in Philly."

Making their home in the Atlanta suburb of Peachtree Corners, Georgia, Armstrong and his wife, Sharon, have two daughters – Sidney, an actress in Los Angeles, and Madison, a high school student and standout volleyball player for the TK Club.

Armstrong also started the Star Struck Foundation in 2006, a nonprofit that provides programs for high-risk youth in the Atlanta area.

"I still go out and speak to the youth for the foundation, but not as much. I was doing it once a week for a long period of time," Armstrong says. "We still give out college scholarships. I'm more on the fundraising side now, calling people and asking for donations. We gave out three scholarships last year and five the previous year."

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