It was a good run in a tough sports town, with more wins than losses. Akers got to perform in big games, make big kicks and make a name for himself.
While McNabb announced his retirement from the NFL as an official member of the Eagles on Monday, Akers is continuing his career in his first season with the Lions and his 16h in the NFL. His pro career began in 1998, with one game for Washington.
Akers went to Philadelphia on waivers in 1999. He spent 12 seasons with the Eagles and the last two season in San Francisco. He was signed by the Lions in March to replace Jason Hanson, who retired after 21 seasons as the Lions' kicker.
Akers can look back with fondness on his how he and McNabb broke in together with the Eagles in 1999. McNabb was traded to the Redskins in 2010. He played one season in Washington and part of the 2011 season in Minnesota before being benched in favor of rookie Christian Ponder. McNabb never played again.
“I’m happy he had such a great career, retiring as an Eagle, where he spent the majority of his time. Obviously, he had a ton of success. We couldn’t put it together and win the big game, but every year we’d have a very powerful team that went deep into the playoffs. It was a nice run.
“Donovan was a great quarterback. He moved well. He threw a great deep ball. We won a lot of games under his command. I got to have a lot of success because of him.”
Akers is seeking to rebound from his worst full season statistically. He was bothered last season by a groin injury, and it had a negative effect on his kicking. He made 69 percent of his field-goal attempts (29-42), far below his career mark of 81.0 percent.
Akers did not kick during the offseason workouts, but has kicked regularly in training camp.
“As far as injury stuff goes, I’m working every day to climb that summit to get back to my 2011 status,” Akers said.
That’s a lofty goal. Kicking for the 49ers in 2011, Akers led the NFL in field goals attempted (52) and made (52), with a success rate of 84.6 percent.
Akers also made the Pro Bowl for the third straight year and the sixth time in his career.
Akers knows what it is like to kick under pressure for winning teams. He has played in seven NFC Championships – five with Philly and two with the 49ers – and one Super Bowl each with Philly and the 49ers.
“It’s just football in general,” Akers said of playing under pressure. “Ultimately, I had some good games, some bad games. You hope to have more good ones than bad ones and stick around.
“You never know when your kick is going to be the deciding factor. It could be the first ex-point of the game, and you win 7-6. It sounds kind of cheesy, but it can happen.
“In my position – any position -- when you’re called on you want to do the best of your ability and help the team, not hinder the team.”