If there has been any receiver comparable to Harold Carmichael, the Eagles’ all-time leading receiver says it would be Alshon Jeffery.
Speaking to recent high school graduates at the Adam Taliaferro All-Star Football Classic in June in Glassboro, the 6-foot-8 Carmichael drew parallels to the 6-3 Jeffery, acquired by the Eagles during free agency in March. The former Chicago Bear is known for his uncanny reach, being able to win jump balls against the NFL’s best defenders.
“Jeffery, I saw him catch,” Carmichael said. “As long as he can stretch his arms out, anything around that, he has it. He kind of looks like me when I played, if anything comes close to me catching the ball.”
The Eagles added numerous reinforcements to bolster their weapons for Carson Wentz. Along with a Pro Bowl wideout in Jeffery, Torrey Smith signed with the team in the offseason. The organization also selected Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson in the early rounds of the draft in April. Those additions will compete with last season’s often-criticized group that featured Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor.
“A lot of people are going to look at that position and see if they improve,” Carmichael said. “I have all the confidence in the world. Alshon is a great personality. I’m really pulling for them to bounce back. They have the talent, they’ve got the speed, they have the hands.”
Carmichael, who retired from the Eagles’ fan engagement and player development departments in 2015, also offered his thoughts on Agholor’s troubling 2016 season. Agholor admitted last year that he lost confidence after mental lapses led to numerous dropped balls. Carmichael is confident that the former first-round pick will bounce back in his third season.
“There’s no doubt that he can bounce back,” Carmichael said. “I went through that once or twice before. … It’s something I told Nelson, you can’t carry this team. Everybody has their part. He was trying to run before he catches the ball. I think he’s going to correct that and he’s going to be fine. With the competition level of the guys around him, that’ll be fixed. It’s not a hard thing to do.”
The 67-year old Carmichael is now letting his friends and family campaign for his NFL Hall of Fame induction. During his illustrious 13-year career in Philadelphia, and an experimental season in Dallas, Carmichael recorded 590 receptions for 8,985 yards and 79 touchdowns. He set an NFL record during the 1980 season by catching passes in 127 consecutive games.
Unfortunately for Carmichael’s Hall of Fame bid, “the tallest receiver in NFL history” played in his prime during the 1970s before league rules expanded the passing game. His league-leading 1,116 yards in 1973 would have ranked 12th in 1983. Thus, Carmichael’s career statistics are well behind recently inducted wideouts.
“That’s the icing on the cake for playing in the National Football League,” Carmichael said of the Hall of Fame. “You can’t go any higher than that. It’s every player’s dream to be in the Hall of Fame. Yes, personally, yes I would love to be there. The guys that are in there, a lot of people push for them to get in. Personally, my career was great. It could have been better, but this is where I am.”
While Carmichael’s NFL enshrinement may have to wait, the Eagles Hall of Famer expects Jeffery’s workload to increase immediately. In Chicago, the 27-year-old averaged nearly five receptions per game.
“That’s what you want,” Carmichael said. “Quarterbacks have the confidence for him to do that. He’s going to get a lot of balls thrown at him. I think he’s going to get a lot of footballs.”