Contrary to popular belief, I wasn’t in the press box at Shibe Park — assuming it even had a press box — when Eagles running back Steve Van Buren rushed for 196 yards in the 1949 NFL championship game.
Similarly, Chuck Bednarik and the Eagles won the 1960 title at Franklin Field four months before my second birthday.
But I have covered a few playoff games. Saturday’s NFC divisional-round game against Atlanta was my 24th Eagles’ postseason contest as The Press’ Eagles writer, a streak that began in 1995 when rookie coach Ray Rhodes, quarterback Rodney Peete and company whipped running back Barry Sanders and Detroit 58-37 in a wild-card game.
A number of games stood out for me. There were a few impressive victories and more than a few disappointing defeats.
Not all of the memories were created on the field, however. Some of the most vivid recollections had more to do with things that happened before and after the games.
Speaking of 1995, the Eagles followed that rout of the Lions by heading to Vero Beach, Florida. Because of the cold and the antiquated practice facilities near Veterans Stadium at the time, owner Jeffrey Lurie sent them to Dodgertown to prepare for a divisional-round contest against Troy Aikman and the Cowboys.
Randall Cunningham, who was Rodney Peete’s backup at that point in his career, left the team and flew home to Las Vegas to be with his wife, Felicity — the couple got married at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City in 1993 — for the birth of their first child, Randall II.
He forgot to bring his playbook with him.
Sure enough, Peete suffered a concussion in the first half. Cunningham completed 11 of 26 passes for 161 yards and an interception in a 30-11 loss. It was Cunningham’s final game as an Eagle.
The most memorable play of my tenure occurred during the Eagles’ divisional round game at New Orleans during the 2006 season, when cornerback Sheldon Brown delivered the biggest hit I’ve ever seen on Saints rookie running back Reggie Bush.
Bush had ventured out for a screen pass in the first quarter. Brown charged up, lowered his shoulder into Bush’s midsection and hit him so hard he actually went airborne before landing on the Superdome turf. Bush was so stunned, he crawled on all fours for a few yards before being helped off the field.
The Eagles lost that game 27-24, partly because of a controversial penalty. Pro Bowl guard Shawn Andrews had left the game with a neck injury in the second quarter and was replaced by Scott Young. Quarterback Jeff Garcia had seemingly kept a late drive alive with a fourth-down completion to wide receiver Hank Baskett — later known as the co-star of the “Kendra and Hank” reality TV show — but the play was wiped out by an illegal procedure penalty on Young.
That was actually my second trip to New Orleans for a playoff game.
In 1993, I accompanied former Press staffer Ed Hilt for a divisional-round game. My assignment was to go around town and get a sense of the atmosphere.
My first stop was a voodoo shop, where a woman who reminded me of Cher’s “Dark Lady” song gave me a strange look and picked the Saints to win 1-0.
Strictly for research purposes, I then ventured into Big Daddy’s gentlemen’s club on Bourbon Street to get the dancers’ predictions for the game. Because I didn’t want to feel out of place, I dutifully watched a few performances before asking their thoughts about Eagles-Saints.
I still don’t remember what happened during the game, only that the Eagles won 36-20.
I’ve been to only one Super Bowl, which was the Eagles’ 24-21 loss to New England in Jacksonville, Florida, during the 2004 season.
During the Media Party at TPC Sawgrass a few days earlier, participants were invited to try to hit the green on the Stadium Course’s famous 17th hole for a $5 donation. Fueled by adrenaline and a Margarita, I managed to avoid slicing an 8-iron into the crowd and actually put one on the dance floor.
I still have the plaque I earned for the feat.
I have no souvenirs from Big Daddy’s.
David Weinberg’s Extra Points column appears Wednesdays and Sundays in The Press.
Contact: 609-272-7201 DWeinberg@pressofac.com Twitter @PressACWeinberg