Former Philadelphia Eagles star Tom Brookshier died Friday at 78.
The team announced his death Saturday, saying that the former All-Pro defensive back passed away after a bout with cancer.
Brookshier, originally a 10th round draft pick from Colorado, made an immediate impact with eight interceptions during his rookie season of 1953, according to the Eagles. He left the team to do a two-year stint in the Air Force, after which he returned to the Eagles and twice earned All-Pro honors, in 1959 and in 1960 as a member of the NFL championship team.
He spent seven seasons with the Eagles, collecting 20 interceptions during his time with the team.
After retiring from football due to a compound leg fracture, he began sportscasting in 1962 for WCAU, eventually becoming the station's sports director. Three years later, he became a color commentator for CBS Sports, announcing their NFL telecasts. During his career at CBS, he broadcast three Super Bowls (X, XII, XIV) and worked extensively with Pat Summerall.
Brookshier, a native of Roswell, N.M., is a member of the Eagles Honor Roll and is one of only seven players in franchise history to have his jersey number (#40) retired.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
The Eagles, who are mourning Brookshier's loss, sent out these statements:
Eagles head coach Andy Reid: “Tom Brookshier is one of all-time greats, both for what he did on the field and for the kind of man he was off the field. I will always remember him for his booming and bright personality. He had an uncanny love for life, a love for his family and a love for the game of football, especially for the Philadelphia Eagles," said today after learning of Brookshier’s passing. "He bled green and I will always cherish our conversations and the relationship that we fostered throughout my tenure in Philadelphia. Our deepest condolences go out to his wife, Barbara, and the rest of the Brookshier family.”
Eagles Chairman Jeffrey Lurie: “One of the reasons we have always been so proud to be a part of the Eagles family is because great men of character like Tom Brookshier were the bricks in the foundation of the franchise. This man could literally light up a room, and he brought the same passion and intensity to his playing and broadcasting careers. Tom Brookshier will forever remain an integral part of the Philadelphia Eagles. He was and will always be a champion. Christina and I send our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Barbara, his family, and anyone who had the pleasure of calling Tom Brookshier a friend."
Eagles President Joe Banner: “As few may know, back in the mid 1970s, I worked in broadcasting in Philadelphia at the same station [WCAU] as Tom Brookshier. Although I was only 21 years old at the time and very inexperienced, the first person to greet, embrace and take me under his wing was Tom. I will never forget that such a highly accomplished, highly respected person that Tom was and will forever be in this city, took the time to welcome and care for me. I will never forget his warmth and friendly personality.”
Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik and former teammate of Brookshier: “Tom Brookshier represented everything you could want in a teammate and friend. Brookie was one of the best people that I’ve ever known and I am proud to have remained his friend for so many years. He was always a leader on the field and in the locker room and might have been the toughest defensive back of our era; he was a hitter. We’ve lost one of the great Eagles of all time.”
Hall of Famer Tommy McDonald and former teammate of Brookshier: “Put a Tom Brookshier on your team and you're going to have a winner. Nobody said we were going to beat Green Bay [in the 1960 NFL Championship game]. Well, look at what we did! The 1960 team lost a brother. That 1960 team was family. He had an outstanding personality. He was a happy person to be around. That's why he was so successful in color commentary … He was the type of person you wanted to have as your brother. He had strong leadership ability on defense with Chuck Bednarik and everybody. You could always depend on him. He was a leader. I will miss knowing that I won't be able to see him anymore, but he's on God's team now.”
Former Eagles quarterback and Monday Night Football analyst Ron Jaworski: “Tom Brookshier was an icon in Philadelphia sports. When I was traded to the Eagles in 1977, Tom took me under his wing and taught me the passion of Philadelphia Eagles fans. For that, I am forever grateful. Brookie also led by example; he was always willing to give back to the community. His commitment to the Maxwell Football Club helped it become recognized as the number one club in America to promote the game of football at all levels. We lost a great leader in Tom Brookshier.”
Longtime Eagles public relations director Jim Gallagher: “Brookie was a special person and a heckuva football player. After his career was stopped short by a broken leg, he got into radio and TV and did a super job with that. He was one of the best in the business working alongside Pat Summerall. Tom was really one of the best tacklers I have ever seen - he tackled like Pop Warner would want him to. But the thing I remembered most about him as a player was that he was a team leader. All the guys loved him and thought the world of him. He was a dear friend. When Brookie came into a room, it lit up like sunshine.”