I wanted to add a quick follow-up to the entry about Philadelphia’s No. 1 picks who went on to play for title teams, just to add a few more trivia stumpers for your Super Bowl party.
I wrote that nine players in the history of Philadelphia sports had been top-five draft picks and then went on to win a title in Philly, and that just Pat Burrell and Chuck Bednarik were No. 1 overall picks to win titles.
That got me wondering: how many No. 1 overall picks have Philly sports teams ever had? The answer: seven, and the last five each helped their team reach their sport’s championship game, which means Philly has done alright with the top pick.
By the way, if you haven’t already paused to try to guess the seven yourself, you may want to give it a shot, at least at the five most recent. Burrell and Bednarik, obviously are two; of the other three, the hockey player will be the stumper.
Now, for the answers, starting with the Eagles, who haven’t had a top overall pick since Bednarik in 1949. (Two meaningless late-season wins in 1968 cost the Eagles the No. 1 pick in 1969—O.J. Simpson.) The other two Eagles were Nebraska’s Sam Francis in 1937, who played four seasons, and the University of Chicago’s Jay Berwanger, who is the ultimate trivia answer.
Berwanger was the first Heisman Trophy winner, the first overall pick in the first-ever NFL draft—and one of just three overall No. 1s never to play pro football. (1938’s Corbett Davis, and the late Ernie Davis, 1962, were the others). Berwanger went to med school instead.
The 76ers had two overall No. 1 picks: Georgetown’s Allen Iverson in 1996 and Illinois State’s Doug Collins in 1973. Iverson took the Sixers to the finals in 2001 (a loss to the Lakers) and Collins led the 1977 Sixers to a finals loss to the Trail Blazers. Collins was on the 1980 team that lost to the Lakers but injuries kept him from the playoffs.
The Phillies had only Burrell. And the Flyers’ choice? Not Eric Lindros. He was taken first overall by Quebec and eventually traded to the Flyers, so that doesn’t count.
The Flyers’ No. 1 overall choice was Mel Bridgman in 1975, who played on the 1976 and 1980 teams that reached the Stanley Cup finals. The team lost to Montreal in ’76 and the Rangers in ’80.