Wes Hopkins, one of the greatest safeties in Eagles history and a hallmark of the great Eagles' defenses of the late 1980s and early 1990s, died Friday, according to two of his Eagles teammates and his former agent.
I'm sorry to report that one of the best @Eagles players I've ever known, safety Wes Hopkins passed away this morning. He played the game with #Passion and #Commitment. He was a great player, a great teammate and we will all miss him dearly. @sethjoyner@EricAllen619pic.twitter.com/DiPUrypjVg
— Garry Cobb (@GarryCobb) September 28, 2018
Hearts are heavy hearing the news about my safety Wes Hopkins passing today. One of the toughest players to play the game who taught me so much about the game my first couple of years. May God your soul & thanks for being a great teammate RIP Hop #GangGreen#FLYEAGLESFLY �� �� pic.twitter.com/KjyBT9q7vK
— Mark McMillian (@MarkMcMillian29) September 28, 2018
Hopkins was 57.
Hopkins, a ferocious hitter and fearless run stopper, was one of the NFL's most feared safeties and was named first-team All-Pro and made a Pro Bowl in 1985, when he had six interceptions.
Despite missing most of 1986 and all of 1987 with a devastating knee injury, he returned to play six more seasons at a very high level.
Hopkins had 30 interceptions in his 11 seasons with the Eagles, which still ranks fifth most in Eagles history. He also had 12 sacks and 16 fumble recoveries.
Hopkins is one of only four players in Eagles history with both 12 sacks and 12 interceptions. The others are Hall of Famer Brian Dawkins, Seth Joyner and William Thomas.
Hopkins and Andre Waters, who played alongside each other in the deep secondary for nearly a decade, both played in exactly 137 games in an Eagles uniform. The only defensive backs to play more games as Eagles than No. 48 were Dawkins (183) and Randy Logan (159).
Hopkins was originally a second-round pick out of SMU in 1983 and was a full-time starter as a rookie. He blossomed in his second year, recording five interceptions and added six more in his 1985 Pro Bowl season.
But in a Week 4 game against the Rams at the Vet in 1986, Hopkins tore up his knee and missed not only the rest of the 1986 season but also the entire 1987 season.
But in 1988, after a grueling, nearly two-year rehab, he picked up where he left off, with five more interceptions for the NFC East champions and added five more INTs in each of the 1990 and 1991 seasons.
Hopkins is the only player in Eagles history with at least five interceptions in five or more seasons.
My dear friend and client, Wes Hopkins, passed this morning to his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Wes was a very intelligent and humble man. A Philly Underdog- Walk on @ SMU to All- Pro Safety. Beloved by Eagles' Fans. RIP # 48. Love you.
— Harry Himes (@CJHcjhimes) September 28, 2018
The Eagles released Hopkins after training camp in 1993 and he signed with the Chiefs. After playing in one preseason game for the Chiefs, he was released and rejoined the Eagles and played one more season before retiring after 1993.
This past March, Hopkins was inducted into the SMU Athletics Hall of Fame.
Those Eagles teams of the late 1980s and early 1990s have been struck by tragedy.
Jerome Brown was just 27 when he died before the 1992 season in a one-car crash that also claimed his young nephew. Hall of Famer Reggie White died in 2004 at 43. Waters, who manned the deep secondary alongside Hopkins for nearly a decade, was 44 when he took his own life in 2006. And Todd Bell, who spent the 1988 and 1989 seasons with the Eagles, died in 2005 at 46.