Donovan McNabb’s 1-4 NFC championship game record is common knowledge. But his failure to advance to this year’s Super Bowl kept McNabb from perhaps joining an exclusive club of Philadelphia athletes.
In the entire history of Philadelphia sports, just nine athletes were chosen in the top five of their sport’s draft by a Philly team that then went on to win their sport’s title. If McNabb (second overall in 1999) had taken the Eagles to a Super Bowl win this year, he would have been the tenth member of the club.
The group includes four Eagles, three Phillies, two 76ers, and, surprisingly, no Flyers.
The most recent addition to the club, of course, is Pat Burrell, taken first overall in the 1998 draft, who started the Game 5-winning rally that led to the 2008 World Series title. The other Phillies: Lonnie Smith (third in 1974) and Larry Christenson (third in 1972), both of whom played for the 1980 champs.
The Eagles among the group are all-time greats Chuck Bednarik (first in 1949; titles in ’49 and ’60) and Steve Van Buren (fifth in ’44; titles in ’48 and ’49), as well as Joe Muha (second in ’43; titles in ’48, ’49), and Bob Pellegrini (fourth in ’56, ’60 title).
And rounding out the nine are 76ers Luke Jackson (fourth in ’64) and Billy Cunningham (fifth in ’65), both of whom played on the 1967 world champs. The only Flyer close to the top five to play for either the ’74 or ’75 Stanley Cup champions was Bill Barber, taken seventh overall in 1972.
With the 2008 title, Burrell joined Bednarik as the only first overall picks by Philly to win a title for a Philadelphia team.
The number of first-round Philly draft picks—not just top five—to play on a Philly world champion is slightly larger: 21. Four Phillies joined the group as a result of the 2008 title: Burrell, Brett Myers, Chase Utley, and Cole Hamels.
Here’s the entire list of Philly No. 1 draft picks who played on a Philly champion:
Steve Van Buren