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Bengals trade history: Bill Bergey To Eagles for draft picks

A disgruntled linebacker was shipped from Cincinnati to Philadelphia for a handful of picks that became quality Bengals players.

Some don't realize that one of the most popular figures in the history of the Philadelphia Eagles was actually a Cincinnati Bengals linebacker before his stint in the City of Brotherly Love. If you mention the name Bill Bergey to any longtime Philly sports nut, they would likely go on and on about the greatness of the gritty defender.

Bergey was drafted by the Bengals in 1969 and played five seasons for the squad. Things got ugly in 1974 between Bergey and the club after he signed a contract to play in the World Football League sometime in the future after the 1976 season--which is when his Bengals contract was set to expire. Owner Paul Brown didn't like that one bit and put Bergey on the trading block while also filing a lawsuit against the linebacker after the events played out. Like I said--ugly.

The Eagles came calling and offered three picks for the linebacker--a first round pick in 1976 and 1977, along with their 1977 second round pick. Bergey went on to become a four-time All-Pro with the Eagles and was a key contributor to their renaissance through the 1970s.

Don't worry--the Bengals did alright for themselves in the deal too.

The picks turned into three defensive players--one of which became one of the better players in the team's history. In 1977, defensive lineman Wilson Whitley, primarily a nose tackle, was the first of the haul from the Eagles. Whitley's career spanned six seasons and 82 games, of which he started 79. Since statistics, especially in the area of sacks and tackles, were not well-kept in the 1970s (sacks weren't an official statistic until 1982) it's hard to give Whitley his due when you just look at his stat sheet. Unfortunately, he passed away of a heart condition at the very young age of 37.

Another was defensive back Ray Griffin, who had a solid little seven-year career with the Bengals. Griffin was a hometown kid out of Ohio State and was initially used as a kick return specialist. However, his role expanded and he played both corner and safety for the Bengals. Griffin had 11 interceptions in seven years, three of which went for touchdowns. Throw in another eight fumble recoveries and that's not too shabby of a career.

The biggest score was defensive end, Ross Browner out of Notre Dame. Though his younger brother Joey is a bit more popular for his career with the Vikings, Ross had a solid 10-year career in the NFL--nine of which were with the Bengals. Keeping in mind that sacks weren't officially tallied for the first four years of his career, Browner still had 29.5 as a Bengal, 17 of which came in the 1984 and 1985 seasons. He teamed with fellow lineman Eddie Edwards to give the defense a nice one-two combination.

Even though Bergey is a more popular name in NFL lore, he himself had an interesting take on the trade. "There's no way that I would have grabbed a Bill Bergey for two number ones and a number two draft choice--I think that's absurd", Bergey told the Associated Press at one point. "I don't think that there is anybody who is worth that much. I really think that that is mortgaging your future. This isn't an individual sport--it's a team sport."