Super Bowl: Hanover’s Woodeshick Recalls Days With Eagles
If it weren’t for his allegiance to the Philadelphia Eagles, Tom Woodeshick wouldn’t think twice about whom to root for in Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4.
However, the former Eagle, who played his high school ball at Hanover Township High School, said he will stick with the Eagles despite his growing interest in the New England Patriots.
“If New England was playing anybody but the Eagles, I would be rooting for them,” Woodeshick said. “I have never revered a team in football as much as the Patriots. They epitomize everything about football. If you love hard-working men, like teamwork and discipline and dedication, that team has it all.”
Woodeshick played nine of his 10 years in the NFL with the Eagles.
He began his career in 1963 after playing at West Virginia. Woodeshick joined the team three years after the Eagles won the 1960 championship — the last title in franchise history.
Though he loved his time in Philadelphia, the organization went through a rough stretch during his nine years. He played on just one winning team in 1966, when the team was 9-5 and went to the Playoff Bowl, considered to be the runner-up game. The Eagles lost to the Colts.
“Now it’s a proud feeling to be associated with the Eagles,” said Woodeshick, a running back who was selected to the 1968 Pro Bowl. “In the 60s, it was embarrassing. There weren’t a lot of very good memories. In 10 years to have one winning season, you can’t have too many fond memories. There was not one game that we ever played that I can recall and say that it was so significant.”
There was a stretch of games in the 1966 season where Woodeshick helped get the Eagles out of a 5-5 funk and into a playoff game.
“We were 5-5 at the time and out in San Francisco,” Woodeshick said. “(Head coach) Joe Kuharich put in the backup backfield completely. We were losing big at halftime, and we started the second half with nothing to lose. The game went well for us and we won. He put Ollie Matson and me in the game.
“Another game that year against Washington, we had an executive named Ed Snider. He told me that if we win the game, I score two touchdowns and rush for 100 yards he would buy me 1,000 beers. We won the game, and I reached 100 yards and scored two touchdowns. I left him off the hook, I never made him get me the 1,000 beers.”
Woodeshick was also at Franklin Field in 1968 for the infamous game against the Minnesota Vikings when fans pelted Santa Claus with snowballs at halftime.
“It was bitter cold to begin with,” Woodeshick said. “It was 14 or 15 degrees and we came out with our thermal uniforms on. The Vikings came out in short sleeves. I took a lot of (grief) from (Vikings fullback) Bill Brown about being so heavily clothed.
“I was staying away from Joe Kurharich, they were throwing snowballs at him. I kept telling him to stay away from me and go down to the other end. I had a cut over my left eye that required 12 stitches and my facemask broke. I didn’t see the incident with Santa Claus because that happened at halftime. They ended up firing Joe after the game. That was the year we were 0-11 before we went to Detroit and won the Thanksgiving Day game.”
As enthusiastic and energized as the Philadelphia fans are today, they were the same during Woodeshick’s time.
“I couldn’t compare it with anything else,” Woodeshick said. “I did spend my last year with the St. Louis Cardinals. That was boring coming from Philadelphia. The fans had so much excitement for the game. I remember after the first game I played in St. Louis, everybody was ready to open the doors and let the press in. I was waiting for Philadelphia style when they would knock the doors down and the reporters would have their ID in the brim of their hat and cigars in their mouth. They would try and get you in a corner and embarrass you. These guys in St. Louis were like gentlemen walking in.”
As for the Super Bowl, keeping his affection for the Patriots in mind, Woodeshick feels Eagles quarterback Nick Foles must have an exceptional game.
“Foles is going to have to play like he did against Minnesota,” Woodeshick said. “If he doesn’t have that type of game again, it’s not going to benefit them. If he plays like he did in the previous games before Minnesota, that is not going to be good enough to win the Super Bowl. He does have some help around him both on the offensive line and receiver. He is surrounded by a very competent team. That game against Minnesota was the game of a lifetime.”
Woodeshick said the Patriots run of dominance starts at the top with head coach Bill Belichik and his no nonsense style.
“He is a dedicated man, I think the team pretty much imitates him,” Woodeshick said. “They are well disciplined and don’t spend time practicing celebrations. They work on the fundamentals and prepare for the game. I would have loved to have the opportunity to play for him. I love him. They have far from the best talent but they beat you with brains and preparation.”
Being from the Wyoming Valley and having the opportunity to play for the Eagles is something Woodeshick will always cherish. But no more than being from the Wyoming Valley and making it to the NFL like so many others before him.
“It was a nice accomplishment. I was proud to represent the Valley, not just Hanover,” Woodeshick said. “Just to be among so many of the premier players that came out of the area to play in the NFL. I had a lot of idols growing up in the area, particularly Lou Michaels. When you look at the history and outstanding players to come out of the area, I was proud to be one of them.”
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