Eagles great Harold Carmichael’s long Hall of Fame wait almost over

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Harold Carmichael’s long Hall of Fame wait is almost over originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Eagles great Harold Carmichael waited over three decades to finally get a phone call telling him he was going into the Hall of Fame.

The waiting didn’t end there.

Carmichael and the rest of the Centennial Class, chosen to commemorate the NFL’s 100th anniversary, were initially scheduled to be enshrined on Sept. 18 of 2020. But by then the COVID-19 pandemic was raging and that ceremony, along with countless parties, weddings and graduations, was postponed.

So after 30+ years of waiting, Carmichael had no choice but to wait again.

“There was nothing else for me to do but wait,” Carmichael said Tuesday in a Pro Football Hall of Fame media availability. “I couldn’t do it on my own. I had to wait. It’s been a very trying time waiting. Again, waited over 35 years. One more year didn’t hurt me.”

Thankfully, Carmichael’s long — unfairly long — wait will finally come to an end on Aug. 7 as a part of the Hall of Fame’s enshrinement week, which will include the enshrinement of the Centennial Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021 in back-to-back days in Canton, Ohio.

For Carmichael, this honor is long overdue.

Now 71, Carmichael always handled his Hall of Fame snub with an unwavering grace, which is why it was so special to see him get the call last year. Carmichael had been eligible for the Hall of Fame since 1989, but this was unfathomably the first time he was ever even a finalist.

Last January, the day after official news that Carmichael was going into the Hall of Fame, the Eagles surprised Carmichael with a celebration. When he showed up to the NovaCare Complex, the entire organization was waiting for him in the lobby.

“That was so awesome,” Carmichael said on Tuesday. “I thought I was just going over to have an interview with one of the media guys. When I got out of my truck, they had me pull right in the front, where I don’t normally park. Standing in the door was the president, Don Smolenski, and (general manager) Howie Roseman. I said, ‘Something is going on.’

“And then I walked into the building and the whole organization was there in the lobby, that was so thrilling and so humbling to me. It was tough to really deal with. It’s tough to hold back tears, which I did a pretty good job, but not a very good job. But very humbling to see people there that I’ve worked with and been around for years. Very exciting moment for me.”

After his playing career, Carmichael served almost another couple decades in various roles, which kept him as a mainstay at the NovaCare Complex. There’s no question he’s an all-time Eagle.

During his 11-year career as a full-time player with the Eagles (1973-83), Carmichael led the NFL in catches (549), receiving yards (8,414) and touchdowns (77). From 1972-80, he also set a then-record with 127 consecutive games with a reception.

Carmichael is still the Eagles’ all-time leader in receptions (589), receiving yards (8,978) and receiving touchdowns (79). When he retired, Carmichael was fifth on the NFL’s all-time receptions list.

The Eagles drafted Carmichael out of Southern University in the seventh round back in 1971. He ended up as a four-time Pro Bowler, two-time All-Pro and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 1970s.

At 6-foot-8, 225 pounds, Carmichael always stood out, but it took him some time to learn how to play receiver at that size. On Tuesday, he credited former NFL receiver and former Eagles wide receivers coach Boyd Dowler — who was 6-5 himself — for teaching him how to use his big frame. Because of his unusual size and lack of top-end speed, Carmichael said he had to work extra hard to become the type of player he was.

On Tuesday, 2020 Hall of Fame Class member Isaac Bruce talked about how much of a thrill it is for him to be enshrined along with Carmichael, a player he watched growing up.

But Carmichael admitted he never really thought about how much he set a standard of wide receiver play for future generations.

“No, not really,” said Carmichael, as humble as ever. “The only time I’d think about it is when somebody would ask a question like you’re asking, about that. I never thought about it. Just trying to play my game.”

His game set records and got him enshrined in the Eagles’ Hall of Fame back in 1987. Finally, Carmichael will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 7 in Canton.

Long overdue, but definitely worth the wait.

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