The Swamp Fox Dies

Posted: July 18th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 50 Comments »

Former Eagles player and coach Marion “Swamp Fox” Campbell has died. has notes on him.

Campbell was hired as the Eagles’ defensive coordinator in 1977 under head coach Dick Vermeil. Employing a 3-4 scheme, Campbell coached the Eagles’ defense into one of the best units in football. In fact, the Eagles allowed the fewest points in the NFL during his six-season span as defensive coordinator.

Campbell built and ran the defense that got the Eagles to their first Super Bowl. Can you imagine the Eagles allowing the fewest points over a 6-year span? That’s incredibly impressive defense.

He is one of only four people in franchise history to serve as a player, assistant coach and head coach.

That is pretty amazing.

Campbell won just 17 games as the Eagles’ head coach from 1983-85, but he left his mark on the franchise in a number of ways. Not only did he serve on the Eagles’ coaching staff for nine years, but he was also an All-Pro, two-way player for the Eagles from 1956-1961. A standout at the University of Georgia, “Swamp Fox,” as he was affectionately referred to, was a key member of the Eagles’ 1960 NFL Championship team. According to Ray Didinger in The New Eagles Encyclopedia, Campbell played most of that entire season with torn ligaments in his ankle, requiring pain-killing shots before and at halftime of every game. Still, he suited up for all 12 of the Eagles’ games, leading them to a 17-13 championship-clinching win over the Green Bay Packers at Franklin Field on December 26, 1960.

So Campbell helped the Eagles win their final NFL title and got them to their first Super Bowl. How is this guy not considered a saint or something like that? He really does have a remarkable place in franchise history.

There is another legacy for Campbell. The Eagles were a mediocre to bad defensive team for the 20 years prior to his arrival. Once he came in and established the Eagles as a defensive force, that stuck around. Look at the 1985 Eagles defense. Three of the best players were Reggie White, Wes Hopkins and Andre Waters. Ever heard of them? They went on to star for Buddy Ryan and Bud Carson. Mike Reichenbach, Buddy’s MLB for 3 years, played for Campbell.

Think of all the terrific defensive coaches who came after Campbell. Buddy and Ray Rhodes were head coaches. There were defensive coordinators like Wade Phillips, Jeff Fisher, Bud Carson, Emmitt Thomas and Jim Johnson. You had terrific position coaches like Mike Trgovac, Ron Rivera, Leslie Frazier, Steve Spagnuolo and Sean McDermott. That is a lot of defensive gurus. And they all came after Campbell.

The Eagles are at their best when the defense is outstanding. The 1980 team was #1 in the league in scoring defense and went to the Super Bowl. The 2004 team was second in the league in scoring defense and went to the Super Bowl. There just seems to be something in the franchise’s DNA that it needs dominant defense for the team to be special.

So now Jim Schwartz has a chance to add his name to the legacy of great defensive coaches. We’ll see if he can build the Eagles into a great defense. And if that happens…if…history tells us there could be another trip to the Super Bowl.


I’m curious how many fans understand The Swamp Fox nickname? That’s more of a southern thing and really takes someone with a good knowledge of history. Without looking it up, how many of you knew who the real Swamp Fox was?


50 Comments on “The Swamp Fox Dies”

  1. 1 The Swamp Fox Dies - said at 8:33 AM on July 18th, 2016:

    […] Tommy Lawlor Former Eagles player and coach Marion “Swamp Fox” Campbell has died. has notes on him. […]

  2. 2 Eagle Talon said at 8:50 AM on July 18th, 2016:

    Francis Marion.

  3. 3 (__!__) said at 8:58 AM on July 18th, 2016:

    Was it Marion Campbell who fell ill and was in the hospital and all his defensive players wore his initials or a band for support? I can’t quite remember the specifics.

  4. 4 A Roy said at 10:12 AM on July 18th, 2016:

    Those of us “of a certain age” can remember the TV show “The Swamp Fox” about the exploits of Revolutionary War hero, Francis Marion. I did not remember this, but the show starred a young Leslie Nielson. “Surely, you can’t be serious.” “I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.”

  5. 5 izzylangfan said at 10:42 AM on July 18th, 2016:

    Yes I remember it well. I think it started as a Walt Disney feature.

  6. 6 Johnsie McDougal said at 2:55 AM on July 19th, 2016:

    <<o. ✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤:::::::!be810p:….,….

  7. 7 PacificPurl said at 3:23 AM on July 19th, 2016:

    Ironic considering Nielson was a Canadian.

  8. 8 ICDogg said at 10:21 AM on July 18th, 2016:

    He ran a defense that he was not ashamed to call “bend but don’t break”. And it was a very good defense.

  9. 9 Forthebirds said at 10:49 AM on July 18th, 2016:

    Yes I know That Francis Marion led a force against the British during the revolution and hid out in the swamps either in Georgia or South Carolina, and I vaguely remember the TV show.

  10. 10 Ark87 said at 6:42 PM on July 18th, 2016:

    More recently, I believe he was the inspiration for The Patriot. Also mentioned in a US Army Ranger documentary, but honestly the name didn’t stick with me. Or the nickname.

  11. 11 Gary Barnes said at 11:39 AM on July 18th, 2016:


  12. 12 Cafone said at 2:33 PM on July 18th, 2016:

    The real Swamp Fox was a terrorist. But then his side won so he’s a hero.

  13. 13 MattE said at 3:00 PM on July 19th, 2016:

    History is written by the victors

  14. 14 since1961 said at 3:18 PM on July 19th, 2016:

    Guerilla, you mean. Exactly in line with the conduct of war in North America in the 18th century.

  15. 15 wee2424 said at 4:42 PM on July 18th, 2016:

    Too young unfortunately.

  16. 16 Media Mike said at 6:41 PM on July 18th, 2016:

    Sorry to hear of his passing, but Marion Campbell falls just long enough ago that I really never saw any of his coaching directly; I only became aware of him when he was fired.

  17. 17 FairOaks said at 11:31 PM on July 19th, 2016:

    I was pretty young, though I do have a memory of the 1980 Super Bowl. The Eagles were very not fun to watch under Campbell. His drafting was absolutely awful… in three years, the best picks were two second rounders — Wes Hopkins and Randall Cunningham. The rest seems like a wash, and the three first rounders are among the worst the Eagles have had.

    I obviously don’t remember him as a player, and he had success at several stops as a DC, and definitely is an important figure in Eagles history.

    But head coach was one step beyond his real talent level, from all appearances. He had two different head coaching stints with Atlanta (one before the Eagles, so he wasn’t a first-time HC), and had a career record of 34-80-1.

  18. 18 Media Mike said at 5:08 AM on July 20th, 2016:

    Michael Haddix, Kenny Jackson, and Kevin Allen were the 3 first rounders. That’s really bad. Further proof Harry Gabmle being a complete bum.

  19. 19 Dude said at 8:18 PM on July 18th, 2016:

    Fun Swamp Fox fact: Francis Marion is buried at Belle Isle Plantation cemetery. Belle Isle is the name of plantation from Fletch Lives. The More You Know!

  20. 20 anon said at 8:30 PM on July 18th, 2016:

    Foster to Miami for $1.5m — bargain?

  21. 21 Ben said at 11:12 PM on July 18th, 2016:

    Never knew the player, coach or how his nickname came about.
    Thanks Tommy for giving us a history lesson as well as bringing his accomplishments to light.
    He sure sounded like someone we could use right now.
    It seems those old school players ate nails for breakfast and concrete for dinner.
    Why is it that nowadays these young players miss an entire game over a sprained toe?
    You have to admire a player who loved the game so much that his health took a back seat when a game was to be played.
    I was amazed when you mentioned how he played on both sides of the ball.
    I think Deon Sanders may have been the last of the two way players.
    RIP Swamp Fox.

  22. 22 A_T_G said at 12:59 AM on July 19th, 2016:

    Deion had one season with double digit catches and 3 career touchdowns rushing or receiving. He was a gimmick, not a two-way player.

    Two sport, yes, but the last real two way player? This guy:

  23. 23 Blackfoot said at 8:03 PM on July 19th, 2016:

    he was one hell of a gimmick

  24. 24 FairOaks said at 11:33 PM on July 19th, 2016:

    He was an awesome cornerback and returner. His use on offense was strictly a gimmick.

  25. 25 Bert's Bells said at 11:27 AM on July 20th, 2016:

    30, 40 years ago players were, in essence, the football property of the owners. They weren’t paid well and had no other professional sports options.

    Today, these men are million dollar investments for the club. It’s in the owners interests -as well as the players- to optimize their value by not putting themselves in the position to sustain career-threatening injury. Free agency plays a part in this.

    Add to that, the 53rd man on just about any NFL roster today would be the biggest, fastest, strongest guy in the league in 1960. That means the average injuries surrounding them can be bigger, harder, and more catastrophic.

    So it’s not like “men were tougher” 50 years ago. They were slower, dumber and more exploited.

  26. 26 Mac said at 4:14 PM on July 20th, 2016:

    Then, why are there still players who continue to play despite being injured? Seems that the mistake may be in making sweeping statements about either group.

  27. 27 Bert's Bells said at 5:47 PM on July 21st, 2016:

    You’re mixing micro and macro.

  28. 28 RobNE said at 5:05 PM on July 20th, 2016:

    so we have the plot line of a great time travel movie here.

  29. 29 daveH said at 11:23 PM on July 18th, 2016:

    The differences in the coverages of the Repub Convention is incredible

  30. 30 Media Mike said at 5:24 AM on July 19th, 2016:

    Where they in Cover 2?

  31. 31 daveH said at 6:21 PM on July 19th, 2016:

    Cover deez i think

  32. 32 Tamara Wolfe said at 1:01 AM on July 20th, 2016:

    <<o. ✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤:::::::!bc173p:….,….

  33. 33 Bert's Bells said at 11:21 AM on July 20th, 2016:


  34. 34 PacificPurl said at 3:25 AM on July 19th, 2016:

    So one of the best Eagles defenses was a 3/4. An interesting factoid.

  35. 35 Anders said at 3:29 AM on July 19th, 2016:

    yep, Reggie White had 13 sacks as a rookie playing 3-4 2 gapping DE.

  36. 36 Blackfoot said at 1:05 PM on July 19th, 2016:

    nice shot of chopes with the shark in the wave!

  37. 37 daveH said at 6:23 PM on July 19th, 2016:

    Yes!! That is sweet .. respekt the Chopes know ledge

  38. 38 PacificPurl said at 4:05 AM on July 20th, 2016:

    Thanks. I’m actually closer to wetsuit surfing. Just liked the pic.

  39. 39 Fred said at 10:21 AM on July 19th, 2016:

    RIP coach

  40. 40 tag1555 said at 11:03 AM on July 19th, 2016:

    In fairness, both Waters and Reichenbach were strictly special teams players under Campbell who really found their footing in Buddy’s 46 defense…while Hopkins was an All-Pro who Buddy never warmed to and probably would have had a better career elsewhere. Reggie would have been great no matter who he played for – watching him play in ’85, you could sense the same excitement the Giants fans had when LT was a rookie, that other teams tried single-blocking him and quickly figured out that wasn’t a good idea because he would shred anyone who tried to take him on one-on-one.

  41. 41 MattE said at 3:00 PM on July 19th, 2016:

    Sidenote: Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz seem to go everywhere together.

    Just an observation.

  42. 42 anon said at 7:19 PM on July 19th, 2016:

    According to Football Outsiders, Russell Wilson was the
    most successful quarterback in the league when working from a clean
    pocket. He was also the fourth-best quarterback while under pressure, but his DVOA of 86.4 percent was far and away the best when unpressured. PFF’s charting agrees, showing Wilson completed almost 73 percent of his passes and compiled a 26-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio when unpressured last season.

  43. 43 Media Mike said at 5:20 AM on July 20th, 2016:

    Wilson is a joy to watch. The guy’s ability to process the game from the neck up is amazing.

  44. 44 SteveH said at 4:45 PM on July 20th, 2016:

    Annnnnnnnddddd he finally got to have sex! So good for him.

  45. 45 Media Mike said at 7:54 PM on July 20th, 2016:

    ….again. He was already married and divorced once. The champagne cork never fits back in the bottle.

  46. 46 Insomniac said at 8:58 PM on July 20th, 2016:

    but he runs with the ball, he can’t be good.

  47. 47 Media Mike said at 9:13 PM on July 20th, 2016:

    Steve Young style, not the brain dead variety of scramble bums.

  48. 48 蒂欧娜 said at 4:05 AM on July 20th, 2016:


  49. 49 Jamie Parker said at 7:10 PM on July 20th, 2016:

    Fewest points in the league over that 6 year span? The span includes 2 Steel Curtain SB winners. How’s that for perspective?

  50. 50 daveH said at 10:36 PM on July 20th, 2016:

    2 most hated candidates in history … scary