Chasing down the defenders: Carl Hairston

Posted: September 04, 2008

Eagles career: He remembers the stuggles during the early years of the Dick Vermeil regime. He recalls the 17-14 win over what would eventually become the Super Bowl champion Steelers in 1979 that signified how far along the franchise had come ("We blossomed after that game and won a playoff game, and then the next year we went to the Super Bowl.")

And he hasn't forgotten another thing, getting overlooked for the Pro Bowl after recording eight sacks and creating havoc from his right defensive end position.

"I led the NFC in sacks [the year before, when he had 15] and then didn't go to the Pro Bowl, and that's what I didn't understand," he said recently. "So after that year I stopped voting."

Hairston arrived the same year as Dick Vermeil and did something that immediately caught his new coach's eye: worked his butt off. A seventh-round pick out of Maryland-Eastern Shore, he missed only one game during his 8 years here as a starter. The defensive captain for four seasons - from 1979 to '82 - finished with more than 100 tackles in five straight seasons in addition to his sacks.

Where he is now: After two stints as a coach with Vermeil (in St. Louis and then Kancas City), he's entering his third season as the defensive line coach in Green Bay. While the job isn't much different, the climate sure is. "It starts snowing in September and stops snowing in March," he said. "[This past winter] was amazing." While Carl and wife Cindy are acclimating to living seemingly near the North Pole, daughter Crystal teaches school in Charlotte and son Carl Jr. lives in Norfolk, Va. So at least mom and dad have warmer places to visit.

Eagles memory: You could lose count of all the memorable games that took place during Hairston's tenure here. But none topped that NFC title game in January 1981. "To me the Super Bowl was actually beating the Cowboys for the NFC Championship, because we did something that nobody said we could do, and we beat them decisively. They had a great football team. We just came out and outplayed them."

Perspective on today's game: While the players are bigger, the basic rule hasn't changed for Hairston. "It's still back to the basic stuff, playing with your hands and footwork," he said. "That's what gets you there and that's what we teach here."

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