The Eagles received a bonus when they signed free agent tight end David Little from the Kansas City Chiefs in 1985. In addition to having him contribute on offense, they also planned to have him play on special teams.
"I played tight end in college and they didn't want me to be on special teams," Little said. "But obviously that's what happens to your linebackers and tight ends (in the NFL). You have a little bit of speed and can hit people, I guess that's kind of the benefits. And it definitely benefited me."
And Little benefited the Eagles with his ability to long snap.
"In Kansas City, I didn't think about it too much because I really didn't want to be deep snapping," Little said. "And in Philadelphia, it just came up that they needed somebody and someone said, 'Hey, David can do it,' so I started doing that. I was covering kicks and all that anyway. I realized that here's a big part of the game that I can be a part of and it was fun, too.
"The group of guys that were playing on special teams, we knew we had a big role, and it worked out great. I wanted to do anything that I could do that helped benefit the team and be able to stay in the league. And my opportunity as far as deep snapping, I never really realized the benefit of having that skill until I got to Philadelphia."
Another skill that Little discovered after becoming an Eagle was that he could purposely hurl his body into the paths of opponents.
"Yeah, it's funny," said Little. "(During the third preseason game which was against the Los Angeles Rams) I was trying to impress the coaches and was running down on a kickoff and was the first player down there to break the wedge. I ran into two of them and I felt like I separated both of my shoulders.
"And I did have separations and was out for two or three weeks. So after trying to impress the coaches about how good I was on special teams covering kicks, I jacked up both of my shoulders and missed the first game. But I survived."
Little may have survived, but with a 7-9 record in 1985, the team's fourth consecutive losing season, the coaches did not. The Eagles took a look at that year's Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears, and hired their defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan to be the new head coach.
"It was kind of neat because now it's all a fresh start for me," said Little, "being able to prove myself for Buddy and not have a coach there that would already have a preconceived idea of who else was playing there. I got to be on the same playing field as everyone else."
Under Ryan, while everyone may have been on the "same playing field," that didn't necessarily mean that they knew one another. There were no fewer than 20 players on his first-year roster that weren't with the Eagles the previous season.
"The players that he got as far as the defensive players were incredible," Little said. "They were a group of the best defensive players that I've ever seen in the league. We were all young and not experienced in the playoffs, but as far as talent on that team, it was incredible.
"Obviously there were some great offensive players, as well. They were grooming (quarterback) Randall Cunningham. And (Ron Jaworski) was still there. There were some neat players on the offense that were from the 1980 Super Bowl team. For me, it was a thrill just to be there and be able to talk to them about what it was like to be in the Super Bowl. So that was kind of neat having that experience on the offensive side and then just having some of the depth and talent on the defensive side was the key."
Spending five of his eight NFL seasons with the Eagles, Little reflects back on his time in Philadelphia with fond memories.
"It's not necessarily the games that I remember so much as I do the guys that were there, the camaraderie," Little said. "It was kind of cool being in Philadelphia. It was really enjoyable while I was there. I had a lot of fun. It was a different culture for me coming from California."
Little and his wife, Laura, now make their home in Visalia, California. They have two children: Gunnar, a freshman at the College of the Sequoias in Visalia, where he plays baseball as an outfielder and catcher. And Lauren, a high school freshman, who plays volleyball and is also on the swim team.
The Littles are partners in a company – Atlas Scale Services. They sell, install and maintain industrial scales of all sizes.
"We service all of the central San Joaquin Valley," Little said. "I'm always out in the field, and that's what I love. Living here in the foothills, we have a lot of gravel, granite and rock yards that do asphalt for the roads. So they're always mining."