On Saturday, the Philadelphia Eagles delivered the depressing news that Frank LeMaster, a former star linebacker for the team, had passed away at just 71 years of age.
The Eagles are saddened to learn of the passing of Frank LeMaster.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) March 25, 2023
Even though he had been retired for four decades, he had remained a part of the Eagles community, and fans are saddened to find out about the news.
— HAASON REDDICK SZN🇲🇦🇺🇸 (@MineShadows) March 25, 2023
My condolences to the family 😭😭😭😭😭😭
— Donna Viggiano (@DonnaViggiano2) March 25, 2023
Wow, this makes me feel very old. I played at his racquet ball club in West Chester a few times and wanted to meet him while I was there but I never saw him.
— Bill Zardus (@BillZardus) March 25, 2023
Rest in Paradise 🙏🏻
— Sweeney 🍃 (49-24) (@Schweendawg) March 25, 2023
RIP Frank, you play a great game of life, go fly like an the EAGLES!
— Wally Wasson. (@wwjr1r230) March 25, 2023
In the 1960s and early 1970s, the Eagles were always a bad or mediocre team, as they never made the playoffs after winning the NFL championship in 1960.
LeMaster was drafted by the organization in the fourth round of the 1974 draft out of the University of Kentucky, and he spent the majority of his rookie season on special teams.
Even though the Eagles still couldn’t finish with a winning record deep into the 1970s, change was in the air as Dick Vermeil was hired to be their head coach in 1976.
LeMaster has credited Vermeil with not only turning around what was then a moribund franchise but also helping him become a prime-time player.
“It was really a breath of fresh air,” LeMaster said. “We had had some losing seasons in ’74 and ’75 and we were all welcoming the change. When he came in, he was very young and had some great ideas. We were willing to work as hard as he wanted to work to win. … And then we started working. He really was good about studying the game and because of his intensity and everything, I think it was contagious.”
Until Vermeil’s tutelage, LeMaster’s game started to rise, and not coincidentally, so did the team’s fortunes.
He had 3.5 sacks in 1977, and the following year, he recorded 2.0 sacks and three interceptions, one of which was a pick-six, as Philly finally finished over .500 and made the playoffs.
Just two years later in 1980, it went 12-4, giving them the NFC East title, and it flew into the NFC Championship Game against their hated division rivals, the Dallas Cowboys.
The Eagles, who finished first in points allowed that season, helped Tony Dorsett and company to just seven points, earning themselves a trip to the Super Bowl where they fell to the Oakland Raiders.
The following season, LeMaster was named to the Pro Bowl for his first and only time.
After retiring following the 1982 campaign, he remained in the Delaware Valley area, where he raised his three children with his wife Marylou.