It seems like everyone has a favorite Wes Hopkins memory. I covered his entire 10-year career in Philadelphia so, of course, I have memories, too. But my favorite memory is different because Wes wasn’t even there.
I was in the Arizona Cardinals practice facility one day when they were preparing to play the Eagles. Two of their receivers were reading the locker room bulletin board when one of them, Ricky Proehl, let out a loud, “Uh oh.” He pointed to a press release that was just posted. The other receiver, Randal Hill, read it and said, “Oh no.” Proehl muttered something and walked away.
Whatever it was, obviously, was very bad news. I walked over to check it out for myself. It was a note announcing that Wes Hopkins was cleared to play for the Eagles on Sunday. If you were a wide receiver, yes, that was very bad news, indeed.
It takes a lot to make pro football players fearful. It takes a lot to make them say, “Oh no,” when they read your name. Wes Hopkins commanded that kind of respect. Even the toughest receivers worried when they knew they would be going up against No. 48.
Wes was listed at 6-1 and 212 pounds but he looked bigger and played bigger. He was a fierce hitter who roamed the middle of the field tackling ball carriers and making receivers think twice about reaching for a pass. He teamed with Andre Waters to give the Eagles the most intimidating pair of safeties in the NFL.
“When other teams watch film of our defense, I know what they’re saying,” Reggie White once said. “They’re saying, ‘Watch out for number 48.'”
Wes was the Eagles’ second-round draft pick in 1983 and he started 14 games as a rookie. He quickly established himself as one of the game’s best safeties. In 1985, he led the team in tackles (136) and interceptions (6). He was named the Eagles’ Most Valuable Player on defense that year and was a starter in the Pro Bowl.