For The 1968 Eagles, the Season Was One of Its Worst. Things Were About To Get Worse.

Photo: Wiki Commons

For the 1968 Philadelphia Eagles, things couldn’t have been worse. The glory days of the 1960 team were long gone, which defied all odds to beat Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers in the Championship Game at Franklin Field.

The 1968 season seemed to be filled with endless negativity. It began with a 0–11 start, saw fans rent a plane to fly over Franklin Field with a banner calling for the exit of flamboyant Head Coach Joe Kuharich, had one of the most famous sports moments in Philadelphia history, and had a huge miss in the NFL Draft for its fan base.

On the surface, the 1968 Eagles were prepared to improve on the 1967 record of 6–7–1. They had accumulated draft talent, including former Heisman Trophy winner quarterback John Huarte, and they also had veteran quarterback Norm Snead.

But a slew of injuries combined with poor play created one of the worst Eagles seasons ever, and left them the dubious honor as the first NFL football team to lose the first eleven games in a season. A record was broken by, you guessed it — the 1936 Eagles, who finished 1–11.

At the last home game of the season — played after a snowstorm — the Eagles plucked a young fan dressed as Santa Claus out of stands to step in for the regular Santa who did not attend the game due to the weather.

When the float that he was supposed to ride became stuck in the Franklin Field mud, he was forced to walk in front of the stands. That was all the opportunity that disgruntled Eagles fans needed.

They not only booed Santa — but also pelted him with snowballs.

With all hope for 1968 now lost, Eagles fans turned their attention to acquiring the best player in the 1969 NFL Draft — OJ Simpson.

As a troubled youth, Simpson would later credit a conversation with Willie Mays as helping him to turn around his life. At Galileo High School in San Francisco, he was an All-City football player.

In 1965, he enrolled in City College of San Francisco. Playing both running back and defensive back, he was named to the Junior College All-American team. City College won the Prune Bowl against Long Beach State in 1966.

In 1967, he arrived at USC. As a Junior, Simpson led the nation in rushing with 1,543 yards and thirteen scores, and in 1968, he added 1,880 yards. He was also a track star for USC.

In 1967, USC would win the National Championship. In 1968, he won both the Heisman Trophy and the Maxwell Award.

The good news is that in the NFL, he was the first in the NFL to rush for 2,000 yards, was an NFL Most Valuable Player, was an NFL rushing yards leader, and was the 1975 NFL scoring leader.


The bad news is that none of that happened with The Eagles. Just when Eagles fans were ready to secure the first pick in the NFL Draft, the 1968 team won two of its last games and surrendered the top pick to the Buffalo Bills.
In 1969, Philadelphia would draft Purdue running back Leroy Keyes instead.
On Wednesday, Orenthal James Simpson died at the age of 76.

Photo: Philadelphia Eagles/YouTube

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