By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor
Just as training camp is about to ramp up for the 2020 Eagles, a former team member is getting ready for an honor of his own.
The National Quarterback Club announced their four-member 2020 Hall of Fame class, set to include James Harris, Kurt Warner, Doug Williams and former Eagles quarterback Roman Gabriel.
Gabriel is best known for his 11 seasons with the Rams, where he was a three-time Pro Bowler, All-Pro and won the MVP award, but he certainly made an impact on the Eagles despite playing just five seasons with the team.
In June 1973, the Eagles chose to part ways with two first-round picks, a third-round pick, fullback Tony Baker and All-Pro receiver Harold Jackson to acquire the decorated quarterback from the Rams.
Gabriel had seen injuries assist in a drop in play the previous few seasons following his MVP season in 1969, but he was able to find his groove in 1973.
In his first season with the Eagles, Gabriel tore up the NFL with the most prolific passing attack in the league.
He lead the league in completions (270), yards (3,219) and touchdowns (23). He also lead the league in attempts with 460 while also managing to lead the league in interception percentage having thrown just 12 (1.8%).
The performance earned him another Pro Bowl berth and 1973 NFL PFWA Comeback Player of the Year award.
Despite his play and that of his receiving corps, known as the “Fire High Gang”, the 1973 Eagles were otherwise not a particularly talented bunch and posted just a 5-8-1 record, an improvement from their 2-11-1 record the previous season.
His offensive line also allowed him to be top five in how many times he was sacked in 1973 and then again in 1974, despite the fact he didn’t play the entire 1974 season.
Gabriel’s chemistry with his receivers was excellent and assisted in the breakout of receiver Harold Carmichael, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame as part of the 2020 class.
With Gabriel throwing to him, Carmichael took a leap from his first two seasons of 20 catches and around 282 yards each season to a league-leading 67 receptions for an also league-leading 1,116 yards. They were numbers Carmichael would never top in the rest of his career.
Unfortunately, Gabriel’s career went down from there with a league-wide labor strike issue hurting his standing with many teammates and the team not performing particularly well.
Head coach Mike McCormack would eventually be removed in favor of Dick Vermeil, who would ultimately turn the team around, with Gabriel’s playing career ending as the backup to Ron Jaworski.
Gabriel is the only quarterback from his era to still be ranked high in the “lowest interception percentage” category in NFL passing statistics. He still holds the Rams’ franchise career records for touchdown passes (154), passes attempted (3,313), and wins by a starting quarterback (74).
He is already in the College Football Hall of Fame for his achievements at NC State.
Gabriel will be officially inducted at the 2020 NQBC Awards Dinner and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony which will take place on February 27, 2021.
Per their website:
“The National Quarterback Club is guided by a comprehensive mission, a clear vision, and consistent values. Through is various award programs, we recognize outstanding athletes for their qualities and achievements on and off the playing field and serve as a model for comprehensive excellence in athletic achievement, academic success, and greater social affinity.”