Tom Brookshier dies at 78

Updated: January 31, 2010, 3:12 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

PHILADELPHIA -- Tom Brookshier, an All-Pro defensive back who played on the Philadelphia Eagles' 1960 championship team, has died. He was 78.

The Eagles said that Brookshier had cancer and died Friday night.

Brookshier had 20 interceptions in seven seasons with the team, earning All-Pro honors in 1959 and 1960. Eagles Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik called him a leader on the field and in the locker room, and said Brookshier "might have been the toughest defensive back of our era."

"He was a hitter," Bednarik said. "We've lost one of the great Eagles of all time."

Brookshier was a 10th-round draft pick out of Colorado who had eight interceptions as a rookie in 1953. He served a two-year stint in the Air Force before returning to the NFL.

The Eagles held on for a 17-13 win on Dec. 26, 1960, over Bart Starr, Vince Lombardi and the mighty Green Bay Packers to win their last championship. Brookshier starred on that team, which Hall of Fame receiver Tommy McDonald likened to a family.

"Nobody said we were going to beat Green Bay," McDonald said. "Well, look at what we did! The 1960 team lost a brother. That 1960 team was family. He had an outstanding personality. He was a happy person to be around."

Even years later, Brookshier remained a revered figure in Philadelphia.

"He bled green and I will always cherish our conversations and the relationship that we fostered throughout my tenure," Eagles coach Andy Reid said.

Former Eagles player and current ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski said Brookshier will be missed.

"Tom Brookshier was an icon in Philadelphia sports," Jaworski said in a statement. "When I was traded to the Eagles in 1977, Tom took me under his wing and taught me the passion of Philadelphia Eagles fans. For that, I am forever grateful."

After he retired, Brookshier announced NFL games with Pat Summerall for CBS. He is one of seven Eagles to have his number retired.

"Tom Brookshier will be missed by his friends, colleagues and admirers," CBS Sports president Sean McManus said. "His voice and his style will forever be part of the history of sports television and proudly recognized in the foundation and the future of CBS Sports."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.