Pete Retzlaff is the One and Only No. 44
Pete Retzlaff is in exclusive company as one of just nine players in Eagles history of have their number retired, which means only one thing: He is the one and only player that will be ranked in our jersey countdown to kickoff.
That number is 44.
Retzlaff was the 265th player taken in the 1953 draft and it was the Detroit Lions who took him. He never made the team, though, and after two years in the U.S. Army is rights were sold for $100 to the Eagles.
It was a steal.
Retzlaff went on to play all 11 seasons with the Eagles, playing running back, receiver, and tight end and was eventually inducted into the Eagles’ Hall of Fame.
That he has yet to get enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame is a mystery.
In 1965, Retzlaff earned first-team All-Pro honor after making 66 catches for 1,190 yards, which is still the most yards receiving by a tight in team history. Zach Ertz came close to topping that number two seasons ago when he 1,163 yards.
Retzlaff went to the Pro Bowl five times and won the Bert Bell Award for NFL player of the year in 1965.
In his career, Retzlaff finished with 452 catches for 7,412 yards and 47 touchdowns.
He went on to serve as the president of the NFLPA and the Eagles’ vice president and general manager.
Retzlaff passed away earlier this year, on April 10, in Pottstown at the age of 88.
His surviving family, which included his wife of 66 years, Patty, four children, 10 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren released a statement after his passing that read:
"Pete was proud to have played his entire career in Philadelphia. Our family can't thank the Eagles and the wonderful fans enough for their support that bolstered his playing years and beyond.
"Pete set lofty goals for himself. He believed in hard work, honesty, and always giving 100 percent effort. Throughout his life, he believed in giving back to the community as a thank you for what they gave to him. Thank you to all of Philadelphia."
Franklin Emmons, Albert Johnson, Ben Kish, William Pollock, Norman Willey, Bob Stringer, and Harry Dowda.
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