Since the National Football League began retiring jerseys in 1935, 155 total players and their jerseys have received the prestigious acknowledgment. With the Chicago Bears and New York Giants leading with the most retired numbers (14), the Philadelphia Eagles have added nine to their franchise, beginning in 1951.
EAGLES RETIRED JERSEY NUMBERS
No. 60: Chuck Bednarik
Bednarik played 14 total seasons in the NFL, all with the Philadelphia Eagles. In that time, he missed three total games, becoming one of the most recognized players to ever wear midnight green in franchise history.
The Eagles selected him in the first-round of the 1949 NFL Draft for both center and linebacker positions. Despite being a controversial player for his rough hits and fights on field, Bednarik was a ten-time All-Pro and eight-time Pro Bowler. He was inducted into the NFL 1950s All-Decade Team, as well as the All-Time Team for the league’s 50th, 75th, and 100th anniversaries.
Bednarik became an Eagles’ Hall of Famer and his No. 60 jersey was retired. In 2010, NFL Network ranked him No. 35 overall on their list of Top 100 Greatest Football Players.
No. 15: Steve Van Buren – 1951
Philadelphia selected running back Steve Van Buren with the fifth-overall pick in the 1944 NFL Draft. He had a strong rookie season, completing the longest kickoff return by any player that season. The following year, he broke a league record with 18 total touchdowns, also completing the longest kickoff return for a second consecutive season.
Van Buren quickly became one of the best players in the league, claiming three straight rushing titles between 1947-1949 for both leading yards and touchdowns.
In 1950, his physicality eventually caught up to him after he endured multiple injuries resulting in his lowest career stats. He went on to miss the entire 1953 season, eventually retiring a five-time First-team All-Pro. Similar to Bednarik, Van Buren was inducted into the 1940s All-Decade Team, as well as the All-Time Team for the NFL’s 75th and 100th anniversaries. As a Philadelphia Eagles’ Hall of Famer, Van Buren finished his career with 1,320 carries for 5,860 rushing yards and 69 touchdowns.
No. 70: Al Wistert — 1952
Al Wintert began his NFL career with the Steagles before they split into two separate teams. He continued with the Philadelphia Eagles, playing all nine seasons of his career with them in three positions — offensive tackle, guard, and defensive tackle.
From 1946-1950, he served as the team’s captain, and was named an All-Pro each of those years. In his penultimate season, he was selected to his first career Pro Bowl. His No. 70 jersey was retried in 1952, but Wistert thought he should be recognized for more. He stated “The two things that would really make my career complete is to be inducted into both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Philadelphia Eagles Honor Roll.” Winstert made the Eagles Honor Roll in 2009, alongside Randall Cunningham. He has yet to be recognized by PFF.
No. 40: Tom Brookshier— 1962
Defensive back Tom Brookshier was selected in the tenth-round of the 1953 NFL Draft. He missed the following two seasons to serve in the US Air Force. Returning in 1956, Brookshier didn’t become a starter until 1960; however, he was selected to the Pro Bowl twice. After sustaining a leg injury, he retired in 1961, becoming a member of the Eagles’ Honor Roll.
A year later, his No. 40 jersey was retired. Brookshier then fulfilled a career in sportcasting in Philadelphia.
No. 44: Pete Retzlaff — 1965
Retzlaff had a different start than the rest. He was selected by the Detroit Lions, only to be sold to Philadelphia two years later after his time in the US Army. Retzlaff joined the team as a running back, wide receiver, and a tight end, playing for 11 total seasons.
He was selected for the Pro Bowl during five of his seasons in Philadelphia, winning the Bert Bell Award for the NFL player of the year in 1965. Retzlaff retired a year later, and would find himself back in Philadelphia as the Eagles’ Vice President and general manager.
His No. 44 jersey as since been retired.
No. 99: Jerome Brown — 1992
Jerome Brown was selected in the first-round of the 1987 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He played the least number of seasons (five) compared to the remainder of the players on the list, but made the most out of his time with the team.
As a defensive tackle, Brown played in 76 games, completing 29.5 quarterback hits and three interceptions. He was selected to First-team All-Pro twice and was a two-time Pro Bowler. He was inducted into the Eagles Hall of Fame and was named to the Eagles 75th Anniversary Team.
Brown passed away in 1992 at 27-years-old after an automobile accident. His jersey was retired by the Eagles the same year. Following his death, Eagles players and fans started the “Bring it home for Jerome” motto — a reference to win the Super Bowl in Brown’s honor. Philadelphia then won their first franchise Super Bowl on February 4, 2018 — Jerome’s birthday.
No. 92: Reggie White — 2005
White began his career in the USFL, joining the Eagles in 1985. He immediately became a force to be reckoned with, finishing his rookie season with 13 sacks and NFC defensive rookie of the year.
In eight seasons with Philadelphia, White played 121 games for 124 sacks, becoming the franchise’s sack leader. He also set a season record with 21 sacks in one single season.
Before joining the Green Bay Packers in 1993, White was named the greatest player in Eagles’ franchise history by ESPN Sportsnation. He went on to win a Super Bowl in Wisconsin, only to retire and come out for one year to play with the Carolina Panthers. He retired for a second time in 2000, finishing with 1,111 total tackles and 198 sacks.
White was named to the Pro Bowl 13 times and is the only player in NFL history to have his jersey retired by two teams — the Philadelphia Eagles and the Green Bay Packers. Currently, he is still regarded as one of the best defensive players in NFL history.
No. 20: Brian Dawkins — 2012
The Eagles drafted Brian Dawkins in the second-round of the 1996 NFL Draft. As a rookie, Dawkins became a starter, finishing the season with 75 combined tackles, three interceptions, one sack, and one forced fumble. In 2000, after earning a contract extension the previous year, the safety was named to his first Pro Bowl, returning again in 2002.
Under head coach Andy Reid, Dawkins and the Eagles’ defense became one of the best in the league. He earned another contract extension in 2003, was selected for the Pro Bowl again in 2005, 2006, and 2008, and became the tenth player in NFL history to have 20 sacks and 20 interceptions in one season.
Dawkins finished a career in Philadelphia with 898 tackles, 34 interceptions, 32 forced fumbles, and 26 sacks. He joined the Denver Broncos in 2009, retiring from the league in 2012 as a Philadelphia Eagle. In 2018, Dawkins was voted into the PFF Hall of Fame and is still considered one of the top safeties in NFL history.
No. 5: Donovan McNabb — 2013
As a first-round pick in 1999, the Eagles selected Donovan McNabb who saw his first career start as a rookie. In 2000, he led the Eagles to their first playoff appearance since 1996, and became one of the best rushing quarterbacks in the NFL. His 629 rushing yards in 2000 made him the first quarterback since 1970 to lead his team.
The Eagles advanced to the playoffs again in 2001, 2002, and 2003, finishing 2003 with the highest quarterback rating (97.5) in the league. In 2004, McNabb lead Philadelphia to the second-ever Super Bowl, losing to the New England Patriots.
During the following three seasons, he took a hit after a number of injuries, however, in 2008, he helped the Eagles reach the playoffs again for the seventh time (in his nine seasons as a starter). In 2010, the team traded McNabb to the (then) Washington Redskins. He joined the Minnesota Vikings a year later, then officially retired as an Eagle in 2013.
In 11 seasons with Philadelphia, McNabb had six Pro Bowl appearances, finishing with 32,873 passing yards, 216 passing touchdowns, 3,249 rushing yards, and 28 rushing touchdowns. He ranked fourth in quarterback wins during his career, behind Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Brett Favre. McNabb has since been inducted into the Eagles’ 75th Anniversary Team and the Eagles Hall of Fame.