Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Top 5 Tight Ends

Here is the 10th installment of Ray Didinger's Top 5's. Click here for the first 9. Ray was posting these on CSNPhilly in the weeks leading up to training camp and we at DW covered some but not all.

1. Pete Retzlaff (1956-66) – In 1965, he caught 66 passes for 1,190 yards and scored 10 touchdowns. He was named NFL Player of the Year by the Maxwell Football Club and the Washington Touchdown Club.
At 6-1 and 215 pounds, Retzlaff wasn’t as big as other tight ends, but he was powerfully built. He had great hands and outstanding moves. He could turn even All-Pro defenders inside-out. He earned five trips to the Pro Bowl and helped the Eagles to their last world championship in 1960.

When Retzlaff retired, he held virtually every Eagles receiving record, including most catches (452) and most yards (7,412). The team honored him by retiring his No. 44 jersey.

2. Keith Jackson (1988-91) – An All-American at Oklahoma, Jackson wasted no time making his mark in Philadelphia. As a rookie, he caught 81 passes, a team record, and was voted into the Pro Bowl.

While Jackson’s total of 81 catches has been surpassed by Brian Westbrook and Irving Fryar, it still stands as a record for Eagles tight ends and while he only played here for four years, he ranks 15th on the club’s all-time receiving list. He had 242 catches in just 60 regular season games.

At 6-2 and 250 pounds, Jackson wasn’t much of a blocker, but he wasn’t asked to do it very often. Most of the time, he was rumbling down the field and catching the football. His best game was the 42-37 comeback win in Washington in 1989. He had 12 catches and three touchdowns, including the game-winner in the closing seconds.

3. Bobby Walston (1951-62) – In the 1960 championship season, Walston averaged 19 yards per reception, a stunning figure for a tight end. And despite his lack of size, he was a ferocious blocker. He threw a key block on fullback Ted Dean’s game-winning touchdown run in the ’60 championship game against Green Bay

4. John Spagnola (1979-87) – consistent performer for eight seasons, Spagnola ranks 14th on the team’s all-time reception list with 256 catches for 2,833 yards. His 12 catches in one game against New Orleans in 1985 were just two short of the club record shared by Westbrook and Don Looney (1940).

5. Chad Lewis (1997-2005) – Lewis was Donovan McNabb’s first “go-to” receiver. He caught McNabb’s first NFL touchdown pass, a six-yard score against Indianapolis, and over the next six seasons, McNabb completed more passes to Lewis (196) for more touchdowns (18) than any other receiver. In the 2000 season, Lewis led all NFL tight ends with 69 catches for 735 yards.

DW's lifetime list would have to look like this:
1. Keith Jackson
2. Chad Lewis- Went out on a high note. 2 TD's against Atlanta in the NFC Title Game
3. Mark Bavaro- Only 2 years as an Eagle but productive
4. LJ Smith - Ugh. Almost gave it to Bartrum or Touchdown Thomason
5. Brent Celek - Well on his way of moving up

Post comments below!


  1. I think even what Celek has done in a few years moves him ahead of LJ.

    I'll never forget the NFL Films video of the '04 Eagles with Chad Lewis celebrating the NFC Championship and basically telling everyone that his ankle was broken but he didn't care.

  2. Agreed Rico, Celek ahead of LJ Smith the moment he stepped on the field. Also, my dog that's been dead for 10 years over LJ Smith.

    I guess, reluctantly, I'd have to go with Keith Jackson. Although I can't believe Didinger didn't mention the drop in the Fog Bowl. That's my lasting image of Jackson. It wasn't even foggy at the time, bright and sunny. Randall hit him in the chest in the end zone. Dropped, field goal, fog rolled in, end of story.
    If he catches that pass, the Birds most likely are ahead when the fog rolls in, don't have to throw every play, beat a clearly inferior Bears team and win the Super Bowl (first of 3 for Randall). Damn, damn, damn.

  3. I hear ya. Never liked L.J. but he caught 232 passes. What made him worse was he had ability to be a star. Scrub.