Sep 24, 2011, 1:48 PM EDT
The Philadelphia Eagles announced on their web site on Saturday the team’s plan to induct the late, great defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, along with cornerback Eric Allen, into the franchise honor roll. The ceremony will be held at halftime of the Sunday night game against the Dallas Cowboys on October 30.
The addition of Johnson could not come a moment too soon. One of the most respected coaches and men in the league, Johnson was an innovator of the zone blitz, and is the person some fans feel is largely responsible for much of the Eagles’ success during the Andy Reid era.
While the most visible faces nationally for the Eagles in the previous decade were Reid and Donovan McNabb, great defenses were behind many of the wins. JJ joined the club along with the head coach in ’99, and he installed the aggressive scheme that punished opposing quarterbacks for 10 years. From the team’s release:
Johnson became ill toward the end of ’08, and it was learned after the season he was undergoing treatment for melanoma. The following summer, Johnson lost his battle with cancer, and passed away at the age of 68.
As for Eric Allen, he was one of the truly electric players to watch from the old Buddy Ryan defenses, and one of my personal favorites at a young age. I can still remember playing football in the streets, pretending I was number 21 whenever I was in coverage.
A second round pick in 1988, the flashy Allen burst on to the scene with five interceptions in his rookie season. One year later, he had already become one of the most dangerous players in the game, intercepting a career-high eight passes in ’89 to earn a First-Team All-Pro nod. It was one of five Pro Bowl seasons he would enjoy in a seven-year run with the Birds, including the crazy ’93 campaign when he ran back four of his six picks for touchdown.
Allen went on to play another solid seven seasons in the NFL — three with New Orleans, four for the Raiders — but his best years were in Philadelphia. He, too, is a worthy choice for this honor.
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