GLASSBORO – It’s been more than three decades since Harold Carmichael retired from his career as one of the greatest wide receivers in Eagles history.
However, his departure from the playing field didn’t mean the former Eagles great left the game. After retiring, Carmichael continued to work for the Eagles as the team’s director of player and community relations.
In that capacity, he had two major roles – helping young players adapt to life in the NFL and helping older players in their move from retirement for football back into everyday life.
“Those are big adjustments in life,” Carmichael said. “Coming from your neighborhood into high school, then going from high school to college and college hopefully to the pros, you have to adjust to those different environments.”
Carmichael is now retired from that job too, but he continues with his love for the game.
He, along with Mike Quick – another former Eagles great receiver - will serve as honorary coaches for Thursday night’s 29th annual Adam Taliaferro Foundation All-Star Football game to be played at Rowan University.
Carmichael and Taliaferro have been acquainted for some time.
“I live in the area and they asked me to come out and just watch the game last year, and I did,” Carmichael said. “This year they asked if I would be an honorary coach and when it comes to this type of thing, I’m `in.’
“It’s exciting to see these kids out here to get an opportunity to show what they can do.”
Carmichael got a chance to speak to players from both the Blue and the White squads on Tuesday. He told them of his own experiences about the value of perseverance.
He spoke about he was not good enough to make his high school team early in his career in Jacksonville, Fla., only to eventually earn a scholarship at Southern University.
At least he thought he earned a scholarship.
“When I got off the train, nobody there ever heard of me,” Carmichael said. “They started calling out names, giving out room keys, and after they called the last name I was still sitting there.”
Finally, someone got in touch with the football coach, who got Carmichael a room.
But even then he hardly flourished in college. He recalled scoring only one touchdown in his college career, and that, he said, was on a broken play, “where I fell into the end zone.”
Nevertheless, the Eagles selected him in the seventh round of the of the 1971 draft, he went on to become a player some consider to be the franchises’ best-ever wide receiver.
Standing at 6-foot-8, he was a huge and reliable target, once catching passes in 127 consecutive games. He ended his NFL career, including some time with the Dallas Cowboys with 590 receptions for 8,858 yards and 79 touchdowns, en route to making four Pro Bowl teams.
Carmichael explained to the players that the key to success was doing the extra work.
“If you’re at practice and somebody runs 20 yards after catching a pass, you run 30 yards,” he said. “If someone is bench pressing 220 pounds 10 times, you do it 11 times.”
He also spoke about the importance of having a good character. He said that, while working for the Eagles he saw character reports on players that went back to their high school years.
“If you get a bad report,” he said, “that could be the difference in whether or not you get drafted.”
Helmet upgrade: This year’s players will be wearing Guardian Cap Helmets, which are designed to reduce impact, and possibly prevent injuries.
“One of our primary objectives is not only the treatment of spinal cord injuries, but it’s the prevention of injuries,” said Taliaferro Foundation president Tom Iacavone. “We thought this was a good thing. We believe that anything that can help prevent injuries is beneficial.”
Taliaferro had his playing career ended when he sustained a severe spinal cord injury in his freshman year at Penn State.
Iacavone said that more than 70 colleges and about 600 high schools are currently using the cap across the country.
According to the manufacturer, the Guardian Cap is valuable in absorbing up to 33 percent of the impact in a collision.
However, the Cap has not proven to reduce the severity of the injuries such as concussions since current diagnoses protocols are highly subjective and do not allow manufacturers to make claims regarding concussions.
Hall of Famers: In conjunction with the Taliaferro game, the South Jersey Coaches Association will induct six members into its hall of fame this season.
They include Eastern’s Logan Ryan (currently playing for the Tennessee Titans) as Pro Player, Haddon Heights’ Mike Bomgardner as pre-post season legend and Woodrow Wilson’s Darrell Wilson as post season legend.
Two longtime assistant coaches -- Tom Magulick. who spent 15 years at Bishop Eustace and other schools, and George Manlove, who spent 29 seasons at Sterling -- also will be inducted.
Joining the group for his distinguished service is Charles Doud for his work with the Washington Township youth program.