Harold Carmichael is one of the greatest wide receivers in Philadelphia Eagles history and is the model of consistency at the wide receiver position. When Carmichael’s NFL career ended, he was fifth all-time in catches, seventh all-time in yards, and tied for sixth in touchdowns.
Certainly Hall of Fame worthy numbers, but Carmichael wasn’t even considered for Canton. Carmichael was never a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame as receivers faced a tough entrance to Canton at the time (they still do to an extent).
Lynn Swann, who had considerably fewer catches (336), yards (5,462) and touchdowns (51) than Carmichael, was the only wide receiver on the ballot in the early 1990s and Carmichael was passed over when Charlie Joiner, Steve Largent, and John Stallworth entered the ballot in the mid-1990s.
Carmichael was overlooked then and he’s overlooked now. He deserves a second look at the Hall of Fame.
Carmichael owns any major receiving record in Eagles franchise history. Quite the impressive feat since he hasn’t put on an Eagles uniform in 35 years.
That’s how good Carmichael was in his 13 players playing for the Eagles. Carmichael is the Eagles all-time leader in receptions (589), receiving yards (8,978), and touchdowns (75). He also caught a pass in 127 consecutive games from 1972 to 1982, which was a NFL record until Steve Largent broke it in 1986.
A seventh-round selection (161st overall) in the 1971 NFL Draft, it took two years for Carmichael to get his career on track in the NFL (40 catches, 564 yards, two touchdowns).
By that third season (1973), Carmichael started his run as one of the dominant receivers in the NFL. Carmichael led the league in catches (67), yards (1,116) to go with nine touchdowns and a 16.7 yards per catch average.He earned the first of his four Pro Bowl selections in 1973.
The double-team started coming to Carmichael, who was the best player on some poor Eagles teams in the mid-1970s. Carmichael also didn’t have a consistent quarterback during that stretch, as Roman Gabriel and Mike Boryla rotated in-and-out at the position.
The results hurt Carmichael, who had just 193 catches for 2,456 yards, but an impressive 29 touchdowns.
Once the Eagles traded for Ron Jaworski prior to the 1977 season, Carmichael became elite once again. Jaworski found Carmichael for 34 touchdowns between 1978 to 1981, a stretch that saw the Eagles go 42-22 with four playoff appearances, an NFC East title (1980) and the 1980 NFC Championship.
Carmichael had 55 catches for 1,072 yards (19.5 yards per catch) and eight touchdowns in 1978, earning the first of three consecutive Pro Bowl appearances. In 1979, Carmichael had 872 yards and 11 touchdowns, which was followed by 815 yards and nine touchdowns in 1980.
Carmichael had his third and final 1,000-yard season in 1981, finishing with 61 catches for 1,028 yards and six touchdowns.
Once the NFL players went on strike during the 1982 season, Carmichael’s play declined…along with the Eagles. He had just 72 catches for 1,055 yards and seven touchdowns over the next two seasons before leaving Philadelphia at the age of 34.
Carmichael spent one final season with the Dallas Cowboys in 1984, catching just one pass for seven yards in two games.
Carmichael is 28th all-time in receiving touchdowns to go with his two All-Pro selections. He also was member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame 1970s team (second team) and the 1980 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.
There are only 19 wide receivers (including flankers) in the Hall of Fame and the list is exclusive. Only four wide receivers were in the Hall when Carmichael retired and five when he was up for induction in 1989.
Carmichael has more receiving yards than Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, but the pair are in the Hall of Fame for the four Super Bowls they won with the Pittsburgh Steelers that improved their candidacy.