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Gone But Not Forgotten Eagles: Todd Pinkston

There are some absolute legends who have dawned Philadelphia Eagles green over the past 89 years since the team was founded in 1933. Names like Ron Jaworski, Harold Carmichael, Randall Cunningham, Reggie White, Brian Dawkins, Nick Foles and Donovan McNabb will forever be branded into the minds of the Philadelphia Eagles’ passionate fanbase.

However, that is not to say that only the superstars and legends are worth remembering. There have been thousands of players over the years that have spent time on the Philadelphia Eagles’ roster. For the true diehard Eagles fan, every one of them deserves our respect.

Today we would like to take a short trip down memory lane to honor a wide receiver who spent his entire career in the City of Brotherly Love, led the team in receiving during back-to-back seasons and appeared in a Super Bowl in the early 2000s.

Without further ado, let’s take a few moments to honor the mighty Todd Pinkston.

Before The Eagles

Pinkston was born in Forest, Mississippi in April of 1977. His father was his high school football coach, and after a productive high school career, he stayed local for college and attended the University of Southern Mississippi, joining the Theta Eta chapter of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, studying sports management, and playing wide receiver.

Pinkston had a highly successful college career. When he graduated in 1999 he was the school’s second all-time leading receiver with 149 catches for 2,366 yards at 15.9 yards per catch and 11 touchdowns. His most productive season was his senior year in which he caught 48 passes for 977 yards at an impressive 20.4 yards per catch and 11 touchdowns, showing his explosive speed and deep-threat ability.

While Pinkston’s slim frame (nearly 6’3″ and just 169 lbs.) made some worry about his durability at the pro level (more to come on that, sadly), his elite speed (a 4.45 40-yard dash at the combine), and production in college caught the attention of NFL scouts. In the 2000 draft, Pinkston went to the Philadelphia Eagles with the 36th pick.

The Philly Years

Pinkston spent his rookie season in 2000 buried on the team’s depth chart but got a big opportunity in 2001 as he earned a starting role. He quickly became one of Donovan McNabb’s favorite targets (in part to the poor competition, more on that later), playing 15 games and recording 42 receptions for 586 yards and four touchdowns.

His best season as a pro would come in 2002 during his third professional campaign. He would record 60 receptions, 798 yards, and seven touchdowns while starting at wide receiver across from James Thrash. The Eagles made the NFC Championship game but tragically Pinkston was held completely in check by Panther’s cornerback Ricky Manning (who recorded three interceptions). Pinkston was held catch-less in the biggest game of the season.

Fortunately, Pinkston got another chance in an even bigger game, as the team made the Super Bowl following the 2004 season (in which Pinkston had averaged an impressive 18.8 yards per catch). Pinkston got off to a hot start, catching four passes for 82 yards in the game, but unfortunately could not finish the game due to leg cramps. The Eagles went on to lose the biggest game of the Donovan McNabb era to Tom Brady’s New England Patriots.

Tragically, that would essentially be the last we would see of Todd Pinkston as a professional football player. Pinkston tore his Achilles tendon in training camp prior to the 2005 season. He missed the entire season and was released by the team prior to the 2006 season. He had brief preseason opportunities with the Minnesota Vikings and Washington Redskins in 2007 but failed to make either team’s final roster.

At his best, Todd Pinkston was an electric deep threat with home-run potential. At his worst, he was one of the biggest symbols of the Philadelphia Eagles’ subpar wide receiving corps during the early 2000s that plagued the Donovan McNabb era. That said, he is a part of the fabric of this franchise’s story, who spent his entire active playing career as an Eagle. For that, we salute you, Mr. Pinkston.

As A Coach

Since his NFL career came to a premature close, Pinkston has moved into the realm of coaching across the Southeastern United States. Pinkston has stated that while playing in the NFL, he “always thought about getting into coaching after playing.”

He spent time coaching at Petal High School near Southern Miss before making a brief stint in the college ranks as an assistant coach at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. However, he has since returned to the High School level as wide receivers coach at Stockbridge High School in Georgia. Just a few days ago he promoted a fund raiser car wash held by the team’s football squad on his Twitter page.

Will Pinkston ever get a chance to coach at the professional level? Could we ever see him adorn a headset on the sidelines of the Linc? At this point, it feels like a long shot, as he seems quite happy at the prep level. That said, it is always an honor to see a dedicated Eagles player return to the sidelines as a leader.

Thank you for all you did for the Eagles, their fans, and the city of Philadelphia, Todd Pinkston!

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