Eagles great linebacker Frank LeMaster, who was part of 1980 NFC Championship team, dies at age 71

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The Philadelphia Eagles announced the death of former Pro Bowl linebacker Frank LeMaster on Saturday. LeMaster was a starting linebacker on the Eagles’ 1980 NFC Championship team and earned a Pro Bowl selection in 1981, playing all nine of his NFL seasons in Philadelphia.

A 1974 fourth-round pick out of the University of Kentucky, LeMaster played all 129 games eligible for the Eagles and started 114 of them. He made 115 consecutive starts for the Eagles, starting with teammates John Bunting and Bill Bergey to form one of the top linebacker units in the NFL from 1975 to 1980. 

LeMaster and Robert Brazile (Houston Oilers) were the only two linebackers in the NFL to start in every game from 1975 to 1982. His 115 starts at linebacker is fourth in franchise history, trailing only William Thomas (129), Chuck Bednarik (123), and Bunting (116). LeMaster scored three touchdowns in his career, one of only three Eagles linebackers to accomplish the feat. He finished his NFL career with 10 interceptions. 

LeMaster was crucial toward building a winner in Philadelphia after the franchise endured an 18-year playoff drought, which was snapped in 1978. The Eagles won the NFC Championship two years later with LeMaster entrenched as one of the leaders of a defense that finished first in the NFL in points per game allowed and second in yards allowed. 

The Eagles had the No. 1 defense in points per game allowed in 1980 and 1981, both when LeMaster was on the unit. That was the last time Philadelphia allowed the fewest points per game in the league. 

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