Harold Carmichael: The Skyscraper of the Fire High Gang
Quick survey question: how many 6”8 wide receivers could you name that played all-time in the NFL? When we think of some of the taller players who have played that position, guys such as Randy Moss or Calvin “Megatron”. Johnson may come to mind but standing in at a mammoth 6-foot-8, Harold Carmichael may very well be the tallest player in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Talk about the ultimate cheat code in Madden.
Carmichael, a member of the Eagles wide receiving group known as the “Fire High Gang” because of their freakish height played in a different era of football. His combination of size, length, and speed made him a difficult assignment for NFL defensive backs. Carmichael played with the Philadelphia Eagles from 1971-1983. He caught 590 passes for 8,985 yards and 59 touchdowns in his NFL career. During Carmichael playing days, he used his height and quickness to set a then-NFL record of 127 consecutive games with a reception from 1972-1980. He ended his career as the Eagles’ all-time franchise leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.
When assessing Carmichael’s career, his stats only tell half the story. Perhaps Carmichael’s most prized accomplishment is being one of three Hall of Famers who have graduated from a historically black college (HBCU) joining Donnie Shell who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers and South Carolina State alum, Winston Hill who played with New York Jets, Los Angeles Rams and a Texas Southern alum. Carmichael also is a member of the Black College Football Hall of Fame.
In the world of sports they say iron sharpens iron and for Carmichael being surrounded by other great HBCU talent really helped elevate his play “Mel Blount was one of my college teammates,” said Carmichael, who played for the Jaguars from 1967-70 and earned All-SWAC honors his senior year. “He prepared me to come to the NFL. We played together for three years at Southern. It was a great competitive situation there. He was one of my favorite people. My three years with him was awesome.”
In modern times there has been some light shed on HBCU schools with former NFL legends Deion Sanders and Eddie George being hired as Head Coaches to lead these programs. Harold Carmichael’s recent induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame adds another illustrious accomplishment for HBCU schools.