Philadelphia Eagles: The Summer of Carey Spear was weird

(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

With the Philadelphia Eagles’ special teams unit locked in for the 2019 season, let’s take a look back at what should go down as the Summer of Carey Spear.

Once Upon a Time in the City of Brotherly Love, the Philadelphia Eagles had a serious special teams problem.

Before the triumphant trio of Jake Elliott, Cameron Johnston, and Rick Lovato became mainstays in midnight green; the Eagles had a kicker named Alex Henery and a desperate desire to replace him with someone… well… better at kicking the football.

First, some context.

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While Henery’s very name may still draw grimaces to this day by old(ish) head Eagles fans, the 6-foot-1 Omaha native was so good in college at Nebraska – missing only one extra point and eight field goals over 53 games – that Andy Reid and company still felt confident enough to invest a fourth-round pick to ensure his services for the 2011 season.

And initially, the team’s decision to spend a fourth-round pick on the most accurate kicker in NCAA history was vindicated with more than solid play.

Over his first two seasons in the league, Henry only missed seven field goals – three as a rookie and four as a sophomore.

But Henry slowly showed a lack of the killer instinct needed to become a long-term kicker and was beaten straight up by eventual double-doinker Cody Parkey in a winner-takes-all summer competition in 2014.

From there, Parkey played very well for the Birds, hitting 32-36 field goal attempts as an undrafted rookie in route to his first – and as of now only – Pro Bowl appearance, but some may forget that there was a third competitor in the Eagles’ 2014 kicking contest that could have erased Cody’s name from the franchise’s storied history; the man, the myth, the Murderleg: Carey Spear.

Dubbed Murderleg for his propensity to fly down the field and drop the hammer on unsuspecting return men(check out this brutal hit on Cordarrelle Patterson), Spear came to Philadelphia after a four-year career at Vanderbelt – where he hit 39-50 field goals in three seasons as the Commodores’ full-time kicker.

But that’s not the only value Spear brought to the table.

No, he also recorded 16 total tackles over four seasons as a kickoff specialist, including the aforementioned ‘murder’ of Patterson.

I mean, can you think of another kicker with more hits on his highlight reel than field goals?

I certainly can’t.

From there, Spear garnered headlines for his impressive reckless abandonment, with the fine folks at Madden going so far as to give him a higher hit power than Richard Sherman despite having a rating 30 points lower.

However, Spear’s safety-esque tackling didn’t translate to on-field production, because as then-Comcast Sportsnet writer Reuben Frank so eloquently put it: “Carey Spear is the worst kicker I’ve ever seen“.

While Spear certainly became a fan favorite in Madden 2014, he simply couldn’t find consistency at, ya know, actually kicking the ball and was waived by the Birds three and a half months after he was initially signed – making way for Parkey to earn the starting spot for what would go on to be its own odd 19 game tenure.

But, you may ask, what has  Spear been up to since the Eagles’ cut him loose back in 2014? Well, that’s a bit hazy. Initially, Spear signed a futures contract with the Cleveland Browns in December of 2014, but after a full summer playing for his hometown club, Spear was once again waived in the final trim down to 53 – effectively ending his professional football career.

According to his LinkedIn, Spear interned at Northwestern Mutual back in 2012, and one would assume he’s entered the fun world of financial services full-time as a post-football career – but he hasn’t Tweeted since 2016, so we may never really know.

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So thank you, Mr. Spear, for a very, very interesting summer one-half decade ago. While it would have been pretty, pretty cool if you could have stuck around in midnight green, as you clearly have the best kicker nickname of all time, at least we have the memories of your lone summer with the Philadelphia Eagles.