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A BURNED-OUT Dick Vermeil did Marion Campbell no favors in January of 1983 when he abruptly resigned as the Eagles' coach and recommended to owner Leonard Tose that Campbell replace him.

Vermeil left Campbell, who passed away last week at the age of 87, an aging team that was on the decline. Many of the key players that had helped the Eagles make it to the Super Bowl in 1980 were either gone or on the downside of their careers.

"His head coaching experience (with the Eagles and twice with the Atlanta Falcons) never was what it could have been because he was always taking over for somebody who left or got fired," Vermeil said Monday. "His teams were always run down.

"Guys like Charlie Johnson and Claude Humphrey were gone. Most of the linebackers were either gone or near the end of their careers. And we didn't have the kids to replace them because of the draft picks we didn't have when we first got there."

Thanks to the previous regime's fondness for trading away draft picks for veterans, the Eagles didn't have a first- or second-round pick in Vermeil's first three seasons in Philly. They also didn't have a third-round pick his first year, or a third or fourth his second year.

Campbell, an All-Pro defensive lineman on the Eagles' 1960 championship team, had done a masterful job as Vermeil's defensive lieutenant, particularly without those draft choices. His unit finished in the top 10 in points allowed five straight years, including first in 1980 and 1981.


"We jumped from 21st to 10th in (total) defense Marion's first year here," said Vermeil, who hired Campbell following his first season in Philadelphia. "We were always among the best in points given up.

"One of Marion's great assets besides being a fine technical football coach, (was) he had sort of a general's command about him. When he spoke, they listened."

"Next to Dick, Marion Campbell was the biggest reason for the turnaround of the Eagles and us getting to the Super Bowl," said Carl Peterson, who was the team's player personnel chief under Vermeil before leaving in April of 1982 to become president of the USFL's Philadelphia Stars. "Marion was the force and brains behind that great defense. He really knew that part of the game."

Unfortunately, Campbell never was able to parlay his success as a player and defensive coach into success as a head coach.

In his three seasons as the Eagles' head coach, he never won more than six games and was fired by Norman Braman with one game left in the '85 season.

Campbell, who also had two separate head-coaching stints with the Atlanta Falcons, had a 34-80-1 NFL head-coaching record. His .300 winning percentage is the lowest of anyone who coached more than 100 games.
 
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