2023 Football

Javon Hargrave carries HBCU banner for Eagles in Super Bowl LVII

Defensive tackle Javon Hargrave out of South Carolina State will be the lone former HBCU player on the field for the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII Sunday, a stark contrast to the HBCU players in the Eagles first Super Bowl appearance in 1981 .

There will be one HBCU product on the field for the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday when they meet Kansas City in Super Bowl LVII — Javon Hargrave.

The 6’2, 302-pound defensive lineman Javon Hargrave out of South Carolina State will be hard to miss. He wears No. 97. Look for Hargrave stationed in the heart of the Eagles’ defense, lining up at nose tackle.

The seventh-year veteran had his best season to date. The former third-round draft pick by Pittsburgh in 2016 played in all 17 regular season games for the Eagles. It was his third season with the team after playing his first four years with the Steelers. 

Javon Hargrave in the 2022-23 season

Javon Hargrave posted a career-high 11 sacks, reaching double-digits in sacks for the first time in his career. Hargrave tied fort second on the team with two others with his 11 sacks. He added another sack in the postseason.

He had 60 tackles on the season (3.53 per game), fifth best on the team, with 37.0 solo stops. Hargrave posted 16 quarterback hurries, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. He played 64% of the Eagles’ defensive snaps. 

The former two-time MEAC Defensive Player of the Year at SC State can be a game-wrecker. He will be a key component of the Eagles’ pass rush and run defense. 

Philadelphia’s HBCU Super Bowl history

Hargrave’s solitary presence will be a stark contrast to when the Eagles made their first appearance in the Super Bowl. It came in 1981 in Super Bowl XV at the New Orleans Super Dome vs. the Oakland Raiders. 

Then, the Eagles lined up with eight HBCU products. Among them were two future Pro Football Hall of Famers. Defensive end Claude Humphrey out of Tennessee State and wide receiver Harold Carmichael of Southern. Both then donned the Eagles’ green. 

Claude Humphrey

Atlanta drafted Humphrey out of Tennessee State in the first round of the 1968 Draft. He was the third overall choice. He primarily earned his Hall of Fame credentials in ten years (1968-78) with Atlanta but continued as a defensive force in the league during three years (1979-81) with Philadelphia. 

The TSU product perfected the now outlawed ‘head slap’ in his pass-rushing technique. So quick and agile was the 6-4, 250-pound Humphrey that one offensive lineman noted he played a whole game without even touching him. He posted double-digits sacks in nine of his 13 seasons in the NFL with career-best 15.5 for the Eagles in 1980, It was during the Eagles run to the Super Bowl and his next-to-last season. 

Humphrey was named first-team All-Pro five times, second-team All-Pro three times and All-NFL six times. He finished his career with an unofficial 126 ½ career sacks. He retired after the 1981 season, the season before sacks were recorded as an official NFL statistic. 

Humphrey, who played for legendary head coach John Merritt at TSU, was inducted to the Black College Football Hall of fame in 2012 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014. Humphrey passed in 2021 at the age of 77.  

Harold Carmichael

At 6-8, 225 pounds, Carmichael was a rarity in the NFL. He was tall with enough speed and agility to excel as a wide receiver. He dwarfed most of the cornerbacks who tried to cover him. At Southern, he played basketball and threw the discus and javelin on the track team. With the Jaguars, he was a teammate of Pittsburgh Steelers’ Hall of Fame defensive back Mel Blount. He never led Southern in receiving in his four years in Baton Rouge. 

But for Philadelphia however, after being taken in the seventh round of the 1971 draft, Carmichael was a star. Initially employed as a tight end, Carmichael moved to wide receiver in 1973 and led the league with 67 receptions for 1,167 yards with nine touchdowns. He finished third in receiving yards in 1978 with 1,072 and was second in receiving touchdowns in 1979 with eleven. He was elected to four Pro Bowls in his NFL career.

In 1980, he set an NFL record by catching passes in 127 straight games while also helping the Eagles reach the Super Bowl against Oakland. Carmichael was elected to the black college football hall of Fame in 2018 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2020.

Humphrey, Carmichael and the Eagles in Super Bowl XV

Despite the eight active black college players, the Eagles could not overcome three interceptions by quarterback Ron Jaworski, all by Raiders’ linebacker Rod Martin, in falling to Oakland 27-10. Carmichael had five receptions for 83 yards in the loss. Wide receiver Rod Parker out of Tennessee State, had a 40-yard touchdown nullified by an illegal motion penalty on Carmicael in the first quarter. 

Humphrey had four stops in the game. Former Alcorn State defensive back Roynell Young had three tackles. 

It was during that Super Bowl when Humphrey did something that epitomized his fierce competitive spirit and determination. He showed his frustration with a roughing the passer penalty called on him by picking up the flag and throwing it back at referee Ben Dreith.

TAKE THAT! Claude Humphrey hurls a penalty flag back at an official after being called for roughing the passer in Super Bowl XV.

In the Eagles’ other Super Bowl appearances, a loss to New England (24-21 in 2005) in Super Bowl XXXIX (39) and a win over New England (41-33 in 2018) in Super Bowl LII (52), no black college players were on the field.

Central State product Hugh Douglas, an Eagles’ Hall of Famer, was on the Super Bowl XXXIX team but was injured and did not play in the game.

Javon Hargrave carries HBCU banner for Eagles in Super Bowl LVII
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