The 2004 Eagles’ Super Bowl Starters, Then and Now
It seems like only yesterday. But it has been nearly 10 years since February 6th, 2005 — the last time the Philadelphia Eagles appeared in the Super Bowl.
That season was a magical one for Eagles fans, with the team winning its first seven games en route to a 13-1 start. Donovan McNabb instantly clicked with new wide receiver Terrell Owens. Safety Brian Dawkins and newly acquired defensive end Jevon Kearse terrorized opposing offenses. Jeremiah Trotter returned from two years in exile — Washington — to reclaim his starting middle-linebacker spot. It was a dream.
The dream, of course, turned into a nightmare in the actual Super Bowl, as the Birds came up just short against Tom Brady and the Patriots. But the season, bad ending and all, remains a fond memory for fans. As we approach the anniversary of that Super Bowl team, we got to wondering just what the Eagles who played in Super Bowl XXXIX are doing now.
Then: Reid was in his sixth season as an NFL coach and was looked upon as a genius hire by owner Jeffrey Lurie. After going 5-11 in his first campaign, Reid’s Eagles made the playoffs five straight years — winning four consecutive NFC East titles in the process. The Eagles finally made it over the hump in their fourth conference championship game.
Now: Reid has not enjoyed a season like 2004 since. The Eagles fell apart in 2005. While they returned to the playoffs four more times under Reid, they only won three more playoff games. Their best result was following the 2008 season, when they made the playoffs with a 44-6 rout of the Cowboys in Week 17 and advanced to the NFC Championship Game. Reid was fired after a 4-12 season in 2012, finishing with a 130-93-1 record. He was then hired by the Chiefs. Kansas City went 11-5 in his first year, but Reid’s team coughed up a 31-10 halftime lead in the playoffs and lost 45-44 to the Colts. The Chiefs went 9-7 this year and missed the playoffs.
Then: Enjoying his finest pro season, McNabb threw for 31 touchdowns against just 8 interceptions. In the Super Bowl, McNabb threw for 357 yards and 3 TDs — but also threw 3 interceptions. Later, he was famously accused of vomiting on the field by several teammates. He denies it.
Now: McNabb spent five more seasons with the Eagles before spending tumultuous years with Washington and Minnesota. He had his number retired by the Eagles and has settled into a career as an analyst on Fox Sports Live. Sometimes McNabb’s Twitter account makes him sound clueless, but McNabb impressed in two stints as an in-game color analyst for NFL games on Fox this year.
Then: Westbrook had missed the previous season’s playoffs, his second year, with a torn tricep suffered in the regular-season finale. Thrust into the starting role after Correll Buckhalter’s injury, Westbrook ran for 812 yards and caught 73 passes for 703 yards in the 2004 season. In the Super Bowl, he rushed 15 times for just 44 yards, but caught 7 passes — including a third-quarter touchdown that tied the game at 14.
Now: Westbrook is another member of the 2004 Eagles who now works in sports media; he appears on Eagles Post Game Live on CSN and on other NBC Sports programs. He also does spots on 97.5 The Fanatic. He is not the last Eagle from the team to go into sports media.
Then: Parry was signed by the Eagles after Jon Ritchie suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Lions in Week 3. He and Thomas Tapeh assumed fullback duties, with Parry starting in the Super Bowl. He caught a pass for 2 yards on the Eagles’ penultimate drive.
Now: Per his LinkedIn, Parry is the COO and development manager at Event Ready, a California tech company that provides event registration management software.
Then: Owens was electric in his first year with the team, catching 77 passes for 1,200 yards and 14 TDs. Injured in Week 15 against Dallas — on a play that led to the NFL’s ban on “horse collar” tackles — Owens returned to the field for the Super Bowl. In one of the guttier performances in Eagles history, Owens caught 9 passes for 122 yards in the big game.
Now: [Deep breath] Angled for more money after his gutty performance, fought with former Eagles DE Hugh Douglas, got kicked out of training camp and did sit-ups on his front lawn in New Jersey, caught 47 passes in an aborted 7-game 2005 season, parked in coaches’ parking spots, was kicked off the team, played three years with Dallas, accidentally OD’ed, cried when talking about Tony Romo (“That’s my quarterback!”), played another season with Buffalo and one with Cincinnati, was NBA All-Star Celebrity Game MVP, had a reality show (The T.O. Show), had a more entertaining-than-it-should-have-been TV show with Chad Ochocinco (The T.Ocho Show), was NBA All-Star Celebrity Game MVP again, had his own cereal, cameoed in the fourth American Pie film, did a five-episode stint on Matthew Perry’s Go On sitcom, is selling a fictional product (Terrell Owens Humble Pies) and — most recently — appeared on Celebrity Apprentice. He was eliminated in Week 5.
Then: Oft derided during his five years in Philadelphia, Pinkston caught 36 passes for 676 yards and a touchdown in 2004 — his final season in the NFL. In the Super Bowl, Pinkston caught 4 passes for 82 yards — including a leaping 40-yard catch in the second quarter that might be the best catch in Eagles Super Bowl history.
Now: Pinkston never played another regular season game in the NFL, though he hung around a few training camps with Minnesota and Washington. He was a coaching intern for the Eagles in 2009 and is now wide receivers coach at Petal High School in Mississippi. He’s also involved in track and field.
Then: Smith started because Chad Lewis broke his foot catching a touchdown pass in the NFC Championship Game. He had 34 catches and 5 touchdowns in his second season in 2004, his second season in the NFL. In the Super Bowl, Smith’s second-quarter touchdown catch gave the Eagles their only lead in a Super Bowl in team history.
Now: Smith played four more seasons with the Eagles and one in Baltimore. His younger brother Nate is the starting middle linebacker for Temple’s football team; LJ has been helping his younger brother get adjusted to college football. He recently reconnected with his alma mater, Rutgers, after a down period when the Scarlet Knights did not recruit Nate. He lives in Middlesex County and owns the Edison, New Jersey, Plato’s Closet location with his wife.
Then: Thomas made the Pro Bowl in the 2004 season, starting 15 games. He played four more seasons for the Eagles.
Now: Thomas retired after the 2009 season. He declares himself an “Eagle for life” on his Twitter page and joined the Eagles staff in 2013 as an intern, and was promoted to full-time as an assistant offensive coach last year.
Then: Hicks started 13 games for the Eagles in 2004, and played one more year with the team before being traded to Minnesota.
Now: Last year, Hicks was one of 750 former players who sued the NFL, accusing the league and teams of illegally supplying players with pain-masking drugs without informing them of the risks.
“If I would have known some of these long-term side effects and the risks you’re putting on yourself, I probably wouldn’t have tried every anti-inflammatory out there,” Hicks told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “I probably wouldn’t have got injected with cortisone in my joints.”
Then: Fraley was the Eagles starting center from 2001 to 2004, playing in all 16 games those four seasons.
Now: Fraley went down eight games into the 2005 season and lost his starting job to Jamaal Jackson the next year.
He played for the Browns and Rams before retiring. He coached at the University of San Diego and San Jose State before taking a job as an assistant offensive line coach with the Minnesota Vikings in early 2014.
Then: The team’s 1996 first-round pick, Mayberry, who battled amblyopia since childhood, founded the Eagles Eye Mobile.
A Pro Bowler in 2002, he started 12 games for the Eagles 2004 Super Bowl season.
Now: The Super Bowl was Mayberry’s last game with the Eagles, for whom he played for nine seasons.
He played one more year in the NFL with the Saints before retiring. Mayberry is retired in suburban Austin with his wife, Danielle, and his son, Jay.
Then: Runyan became the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history when he signed with the Eagles in 2000, and started 144 games over nine seasons.
Now: After retiring from the NFL, Runyan became the fourth NFL player to win a Congressional election, defeating John Adler in 2010 for the 3rd District House Seat. He won re-election in 2012, defeating Adler’s widow Shelley. Runyan, a Republican, didn’t run again last year, citing frustration with Congress. He’s sounded resigned in an interview, saying there was nothing he would miss about Congress. He’s selling his home, but isn’t leaving the Philly area. His son, Jon Runyan Jr., committed to Michigan; he’s currently a senior at St. Joe’s Prep.
Then: Kearse signed a $65 million deal with the Eagles before the 2004 season, and was expected to anchor a rebuild Eagles defensive line. He recorded just two tackles and no sacks in the Super Bowl, and was beaten by Mike Vrabel for a second-quarter touchdown.
Now: Kearse was released by the Eagles in 2008. He played two more years for the Tennessee Titans, but was unable to latch on with a team in 2010. He lives in Pompano Beach, Florida, and was last in the news for having IRS and mortgage problems about a year ago.
Then: Burgess was picked in the third round by the Eagles in the 2001 draft. He started 12 games for the 2004 team, and had the only sack of Tom Brady in the Eagles’ Super Bowl loss.
Now: Burgess left the Eagles after the Super Bowl, signing with the Raiders. He led the NFL in sacks with 16 in the 2005 season, and had 11 more the next year. He played for the Patriots in 2009 and re-signed with the Eagles in 2010. He played in one game before being released.
Then: Simon was the sixth overall draft pick in 2000 for the Eagles, and made the Pro Bowl after the 2003 season. He made a tackle in the Super Bowl.
Now: Simon never played for the Eagles again after the Super Bowl. The Eagles franchised him after the 2004 season — but after failing to negotiate a contract, the Eagles rescinded the franchise tag and Simon signed with the Colts. He retired in 2007, partially due to polyarthritis. “My body was just telling me, ‘It’s time to let it go and move on to something else,'” Simon said at the time. “So I’ve just been debating this over the last couple weeks and it was just finally time.” He owned an insurance company in Florida after retirement.
Then: A third-round draft pick by the Cardinals in 2000, Walker was claimed by the Eagles after one game that season and began starting for the Birds in 2002. He had 4.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles in the 2004 season. He had three tackles in the Super Bowl, and also recovered a fumble. Per Pro Football Reference, that play gave the Eagles’ their highest win expectancy in the game.
Now: Walker bounced around the NFL after the Eagles traded him for Takeo Spikes in 2007, playing with the Bears and Panthers. He last played in 2008. Since retiring, Walker has done spots for CSN and is on the board of Pennoni Associates, a Philly-based engineering and design consulting firm. Walker started Progressive Engineering with a partner when he was playing in the NFL; it later merged with Pennoni. He splits his time between homes in Marlton, New Jersey, and Miami Beach.
Then: Adams, the son of former New England Patriot Julius Adams, was picked up by the Eagles in 2002 and was primarily a special teams stalwart before playing weak side linebacker in place of Mark Simoneau on some downs. He started in the Super Bowl ahead of Simoneau.
Now: Adams left the Eagles after the 2005 season, playing two more years in the NFL (with Miami and Cleveland). In 2012, he returned to his alma mater, Clemson, to finish his degree and help coach the Tigers. He and his wife ran an antiques and thrift store in Central, South Carolina.
Then: “The Axeman” returned to the Eagles in 2004 after spending two seasons in Washington. With the Eagles needing to shore up their run defense, Jim Johnson shuffled the linebackers and moved Trotter into the starting lineup. He had four tackles in the Super Bowl.
Now: Trotter lasted another two seasons in Philadelphia, recording 101 tackles in 2005. He played one season in Tampa before returning again for one last stint with the Eagles in 2009. He had a variety of business ventures while with the Eagles and was a celebrity team captain for the Philadelphia Benjamins on Season 3 of Extreme Dodgeball. Like many ex-Eagles, he frequently comments on Twitter about NFL and college football games and hosts an Eagles pregame show on 97.5 The Fanatic. Just last week, he was all over the media commenting on the Patriots using under-inflated footballs during the AFC Championship game.
Then: Jones was new to the Eagles in 2004 after playing three seasons with the Giants. He recorded 49 solo tackles that year, and 2 tackles in the Super Bowl.
Now: Jones played two more seasons with the Eagles before moving on to Cincinnati for four seasons. He had a travelogue show, Dhani Tackles the Globe, and is now the chairman of two companies: Qey Capital Partners, a private equity firm, and Hyur Staffing Solutions, a minority business enterprise staffing company. He also still sells bow ties for charity.
Then: Sheppard, a 2002 Eagles first-round draft pick, intercepted 5 passes in the 2004 season — returning two for touchdowns. He was named to the Pro Bowl. In the Super Bowl, he made three tackles.
Now: Sheppard played four more seasons for the Eagles before he was traded to the Jets in 2009. He spent one year with New York, one with Minnesota and one with Oakland before retiring. Last offseason, Sheppard was a coaching intern with the Eagles in the Bill Walsh Minority Fellowship, which trains minority coaches for NFL jobs. He lives in Florida.
Then: Brown, drafted by the Eagles in the second round in 2002, intercepted 2 passes and had 3 sacks in the 2004 season. In the Super Bowl, he had 4 tackles.
Now: Brown lasted with the Eagles until 2009 and played two seasons in Cleveland before retiring. He has since joined the coaching staff at Lewisville High School in Richburg, South Carolina, as a defensive backs coach. His Brown’s Corner works with middle school and high school students in college preparation and financial literacy. He also rents out a huge beach rental property.
Then: Lewis, another second-round pick in 2002, had 74 solo tackles in 2004, making his only Pro Bowl (as well as a first-team All-Conference section from Pro Football Weekly). He had six tackles in the Super Bowl.
Now: Lewis started just one more full season with the Eagles, before being benched midway through 2006. He went to San Francisco, playing three full seasons before being released midway through 2010. He played two games with the Rams before retiring.
Then: One of the most beloved players in Eagles history, Dawkins recorded 61 solo tackles in 2004. He also intercepted 4 passes and forced 4 fumbles. In the Super Bowl, Dawkins had five tackles.
Now: The Eagles chose not to re-sign Dawkins after the 2008 season, and gave two tickets to a Broncos-Eagles game to a Lincoln Financial Field worker who was fired after complaining about the Eagles choosing to move on from Dawkins. In 2010, Dawkins joined ESPN as an analyst. His number 20 was retired by the Eagles in 2012.
Then: Akers, who began kicking for the Eagles in 1999, scored 122 points for the Birds in 2004. He kicked three extra points in the Super Bowl.
Now: Akers was with the Eagles until being released after the 2010 season. He kicked in San Francisco for two years, hitting a 63-yard field goal in his first season — which tied the NFL record. (Matt Prater broke the mark with a 64-yard kick in the 2013 season.) He last kicked in 2013, for the Lions. Akers now lives in Nashville with his wife and children. He is a minister and corporate speaker and also teaches kicking.
Then: Johnson was in his second year as Eagles punter in 2004, averaging 42.1 yards a punt in the 2004 season.
Now: Johnson punted for the Eagles for two more seasons before being replaced by Sav Rocca right before the 2007 season. He punted for three more teams (and was signed by two others) before retiring. According to his LinkedIn, Johnson is now in sales at Priest-Zimmerman in the Denver area. He received a certificate from Wharton in 2006 while with the Eagles.
Then: Reese was in his seventh year with the Eagles in 2004 and had blossomed into a special teams stalwart. He made the Pro Bowl in 2004 as a special teamer. He had two tackles in the Super Bowl.
Now: Reese left for the Falcons the next season, and retired after the 2007 campaign. He began hosting a show on 610 WIP in 2008, and has remained with the station since then — first paired in the afternoon with Howard Eskin, and now middays with Michael Barkann.
Then: Simoneau was traded to the Eagles before the 2003 season, and led the team with 100 tackles in 2003. He started 14 games for the Eagles in the Super Bowl season, recording 48 tackles and 1.5 sacks. In the Super Bowl, he had two tackles.
Now: Simoneau stayed with the Eagles for another season, and actually kicked an extra point when David Akers was hurt in the 2005 season. He played until 2010, announcing his retirement mid-season when he went on injured reserve for the second consecutive year. He now owns Simoneau Sports Performance, a training facility in Overland Park, Kansas.
Then: Mitchell never quite worked out the way the Eagles had hoped when he was drafted in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft. He caught 22 passes in 2004 for two touchdowns — but, with Terrell Owns out, did score twice in the NFC Divisional Playoff win over the Vikings. He was targeted four times in the Super Bowl and caught a pass for 11 yards.
Now: The Super Bowl was Mitchell’s last game in the NFL. He then found work as a substitute teacher. He was indicted in 2011 and was sentenced to 37 months for tax fraud in 2013. He says it wasn’t his fault and that he was scammed due to diminished mental capacity stemming from concussions. He reported to federal prison to begin his sentence in December 2013. Mitchell recently filed a motion asking to vacate his sentence; the U.S. attorney in Florida has requested additional time to respond to that request.
Then: Lewis was in his second year with the Eagles, catching 17 passes for 183 yards in the 2004 season. He is the most-recent Eagles non-kicker to score in the Super Bowl, catching a 30-yard touchdown from McNabb with 1:48 left in the game. He caught 4 passes for 53 yards and the score in the Super Bowl.
Now: He stuck around with the Eagles for another four seasons, then spent two with Minnesota. He caught a 30-yard TD from Brett Favre with 2 seconds left to beat the 49ers in 2009, which won the ESPY for Play of the Year. Lewis has since moved into coaching and spent last year as wide receivers coach for the University of Pittsburgh.
Then: Did you know Dorsey Levens — best known as a Green Bay Packer — was the backup on the 2004 Eagles Super Bowl team? He was! The 2004 season was his last in the NFL; the Eagles signed him after Correll Buckhalter went down. Levens rushed 94 times for 410 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2004. His 4-yard touchdown run opened the scoring in the NFC Championship Game that season.
Now: Levens retired as a Packer in 2006. He founded I Am Momentum, which offers “safe, fun conditioning and Fitness training programs designed for Atlanta’s youth ages 7 to 17.” He is also slated to play Coach James in the 2015 film Gridiron UK.
Follow @dhm on Twitter.