Eagles great Ben Hawkins dies; known for playing with chin strap unbuckled

Obit Hawkins Football
Eagles wide receiver Ben Hawkins breaks from the grasp of Dallas Cowboys linebacker Lee Roy Jordan to make a first down on a pass in third period of game in Irving, Texas, Nov. 14, 1971. (AP Photo)

Ben Hawkins, one of the most prolific wide receivers in Eagles history, has died at the age of 73, the team announced.

Hawkins, who was drafted in the third round in 1966 after a stellar career at Arizona State, became famous for playing with his chin strap unbuckled.

“I felt like the air got to my face better,” Hawkins said in The Eagles Encyclopedia, written by former Daily News writer and Pro Football Hall of Famer Ray Didinger.

“People identified it with me, so I kept doing it. I didn’t worry about [injury]. You get hurt playing football, one way or the other. I never got hurt because of that.”

According to the Eagles Encyclopedia, on a 78-yard touchdown reception in 1970, Hawkins caught a pass from rookie quarterback Rick Arrington and a Packers defender went for Hawkins’ head, but was left holding the helmet, as Hawkins raced downfield, “his stylish Afro respendent in the autumn sunshine.”

From 1966 to 1973 with the Eagles, he played 102 games (67 starts). He is tied for ninth in team history in receiving TDs (32), 10th in receiving yards (4,764) and 19th in receptions (261).

His single-season career high of 1,265 receiving yards in 1967 is fifth in team history.
Hawkins later went on to coach in the USFL for the Arizona Outlaws and San Antonio Gunslingers.

Hawkins, who died Monday, is survived by Mary Duggan, his longtime partner of 38 years and two children, Benjamin Michael and Nichole Tamara.