Skip to main content
Updated date:

Bookend Tackles Tra Thomas, Jon Runyan Enter Eagles Hall of Fame Together

Here's a look back at their nine-year career in Philadelphia, what the honor means to them, and their thoughts on the Eagles' Super Bowl win
Author:

PHILADELPHIA – Between the white lines, something always came between Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan.

More specifically, it was usually three different players, which of course would be two guards and a center because Thomas and Runyan were the stout bookend tackles who stood like sentinels – Thomas on the left, Runyan on the right - to protect Donovan McNabb’s flanks through the 00s. 

The pair opened running lanes with ferocity for the likes of Brian Westbrook, Duce Staley, and Correll Buckhalter.

Off the field, the two were friends, and remain so to this day.

So, it was fitting that the two men who spent nine years of their careers during one of the most successful eras of Eagles history went into the team’s Hall of Fame together on Thursday night.

They were honored at halftime of the Eagles’ game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Though the names changed at guard and center occasionally, Runyan and Thomas were out there week after week.

“I think every time I got on the field was just fun,” said Thomas, when asked by SI.com Eagle Maven what their most fond memories were during their run together.

“Can’t think of any. Of course, you hate all the losses. Any games you lost you hate. We hate the game we lost in the Super Bowl, but I think anytime I got a chance to suit up and put on that helmet it was all good. I enjoyed every moment of it.”

Added Runyan: “You remember the guys, the good times you had, the times you had off the field, the times you had going out to dinner with the guys, those are the things you really miss, and those are the things you really cherish."

Thomas got to Philadelphia first, arriving as a first-round draft pick out of Florida State, the 11th player taken overall in 1998, when Ray Rhodes was still the head coach. He made three Pro Bowls, in 2001, 2002, and 2004.

Runyan came as a free agent in 2000 after he was selected in the fourth round of the 1996 draft out of Michigan by the then-Houston Oilers, who later became the Tennessee Titans He made the Pro Bowl with Thomas in 2002.

When making his free-agent decision, Runyan was asked why he chose Philadelphia.

He said it was all about opportunity and escaping the shadow of some great tackles in Tennessee, including future Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews and Pro Bowler Brad Hopkins.

Read More

“I was the young guy no one knew anything about,” said Runyan while with the Titans. “Here was a retool, with coach (Andy) Reid coming in and restructuring this franchise. For them to come after me in free agency I was like this is my opportunity to put a stamp on a team.”

Together, Thomas and Runyan helped the Eagles win 92 games in nine seasons, with four NFC championship appearances and an appearance in Super Bowl XXXIX, a 24-21 loss to the New England Patriots led by Tom Brady.

Brady is still playing and led the Bucs to a win Thursday, but it was interesting to hear Runyan point out that he and Brady spent a year together at the University of Michigan.

Brady is 44, Runyan is 47. Thomas is 46.

The Eagles moved on from both following the 2008 season.

Jason Peters became the left tackle for a generation. He will likely be inducted into the Eagles Hall of Fame at some point.

Winston Justice became the right tackle.

The Eagles, of course, won their first Super Bowl 10 years later.

“I was really excited for them,” said Thomas. “Did I feel part of it? Nah, because you weren’t on the team. Of course, as a player, you wouldn’t do be the one to bring the Super Bowl to the city, but I was extremely excited as a fan of the team and just being a part of the organization. 

"I was extremely excited. I was there for the game and really celebrated just like everyone else did.”

And Runyan?

“We had a fan breakfast (Wednesday) morning, and I said the problem was it was 10 years too late,” he said. “We had our opportunities so many times, just came up a little bit short, but it was awesome to get that taste even though we weren’t part of it.”

They are, though, a part of the Eagles Hall of Fame forever.

“It’s going to be awesome that you’re going to be remembered as one of the best, and that’s awesome,” said Thomas. “When you look back at this org and what players are coming through to be remembered is an awesome feeling.”

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.