Philadelphia Eagles


Introduction

The Philadelphia Eagles became part of the National Football League (NFL) in 1933 and compete in the Eastern division of the National Football Conference (NFC). The Eagles, who are based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, have won three NFL Championship titles, three Conference Championships and 11 Divisional Championships. The current Head Coach is Andy Reid.

History

Beginnings

The Eagles emerged as the NFL’s newest franchise in 1933 as a replacement for the Frankford Yellow Jackets who had gone bankrupt just over a year before. There are no officially recognised links between the two teams but even now some consider the Yellow Jackets to be part of Eagles history.

Owners Bert Bell and Lud Wray paid a fee of $2500 to enter their Eagles team. The inspiration for the team name came from President Franklin D Roosevelt’s new deal policy, which had used an eagle logo as the symbol of its National Recovery Act. The Eagles were held to a 3-3 draw against the Chicago Bears in their first ever fixture. The game was held at Baker Bowl, Philadelphia.

Early Struggles

In their first ten years as an NFL team the Eagles found little success as they endured consecutive seasons without a win. The venue for the Eagles’ home fixtures changed twice more before 1940, first from Baker Bowl to the Municipal Stadium before settling in Shibe Park, which later became known as the Connie Mack Stadium.

The Eagles fixture against the Brooklyn Dodgers on October 22nd 1939 held a special significance as the first ever televised professional football game. Philadelphia lost 23-14.

The impact of World War II was soon felt in the NFL as many players were drafted into battle. This left the Eagles and a number of other teams with player shortages and as a result, Philadelphia merged with the Pittsburgh Steelers to become the ‘Phil-Pitt Steagles’.

The merger was a temporary measure that was no longer necessary by the end of the 1943 season as the two teams reformed independently as the Eagles and the Steelers.

Roaring Forties

The end of the War marked a turning point for the Eagles. Under the leadership of Head Coach Earle Neale, Philadelphia emerged as a genuine force in the NFL Eastern Division. After finishing as regular season runners-up for three consecutive years between 1944 and 1946, the Eagles eventually made it to the NFL Championship in 1947 where they were beaten by the Chicago Cardinals 28-21.

However the Eagles returned in both 1948 and 1949 to win the NFL Championship after consecutive victories over the Chicago Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams 7-0 and 14-0 respectively. The Eagles secured their place in the record books by becoming the only team to win consecutive NFL Championships with a shutout (a clean sheet).

Transition and a Return to the Top

The fifties was a decade of transition for the Eagles. With five changes of Head Coach the team failed to achieve much consistency and results suffered as a consequence. The team could not match the success of the late 1940s, with only a runners up place to create any cheer during the 1950s.

With the fifties behind them the Eagles soon saw a return to the top with a third NFL Championship in 1960. An impressive 17-13 victory over the Green Bay Packers secured the title for Head Coach Buck Shaw.

This successful campaign owed much to the efforts of Quarter Back Norm Van Brocklin and the versatile Chuck Bednarik who have both since been entered into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

A Disastrous 1962

During the 1962 season the Eagles were struck down by a large number of serious injuries to key players and as a result struggled to find any kind of form. With only three victories throughout the whole season, Philadelphia were resigned to last place in a disastrous and forgettable season.

The Tose Era

After owner Jerry Wolman was hit by serious financial troubles, the Eagles were put onto the market and quickly sold. The fee was a record for a professional sports team at the time. The buyer was millionaire trucking executive, Leonard Tose.

Tose immediately went about stamping his authority on his acquisition by appointing a new General Manager in Pete Retzlaff and a new Head Coach in Jerry Williams.

There were more changes in store just two years later as the Eagles relocated to the Veterans Stadium. However it soon became very obvious that the changes had all been for the worse as the team suffered a series of crushing losses. Assistant coach Ed Khayat was promoted after Jerry Williams was ousted from his role as Head Coach.

However, this again failed to initiate a positive response and the team suffered a terrible season with only two victories. Again Tose was quick to make changes, this time replacing the whole coaching staff.

A New Coach and a Return to Winning Ways

It was not until the appointment of coach Dick Vermeil in 1976 that the Eagles recorded what could be considered as a successful season. With nine wins in 1978, the Eagles finally completed a winning season after 12 years.

Vermeil was responsible for a shift in fortunes for the Eagles with four consecutive play-off appearances that included the capture of the NFC East Division in 1980. The 20-7 victory over Dallas also set up a Super Bowl fixture against the Oakland Raiders. The Eagles were beaten 27-10 in their first ever Super Bowl appearance.

After a successful period in charge, Dick Vermeil was replaced as Head Coach in 1983. Marion Campbell took his place for what would prove to be another relatively unsuccessful period in Eagles history, and witnessed another takeover in 1985.

The partnership of car dealers Norman Brauman and Ed Leibowitz paid $65 million for the ownership of the Eagles and their first action as the new owners was to replace Head Coach Marion Campbell with Fred Bruney who would be replaced by Buddy Ryan only a year later.

A formidable defence that became known as the ‘Gang Green’ characterized the Buddy Ryan era. This resolute group consisted of legendary Eagles Reggie White, Jerome Brown, Clyde Simmons, Seth Joyner, Wes Hopkins, Bryon Evans, Eric Allen and Andre Waters.

Modern Day Eagles

The arrival of Head Coach Andy Reid in 1999 sparked a revival for the Eagles as they welcomed the new millennium. With five NFC East titles and another Super Bowl appearance (albeit unsuccessful) in 2004, the Eagles have established themselves as a genuine force in the modern game.

Eagles Fans

One non-playing aspect of the Philadelphia Eagles that they have become particularly well known for is their dedicated, enthusiastic and at times eccentric fans. A number of specific events stand out that characterize the exuberance of the Eagles supporters.

The first was on the 15th December 1968 and became known as the ‘Santa Claus Incident’. In an expression of anger and frustration at the team’s failures on the field, the fans targeted the Santa Claus mascot with verbal abuse and snowballs.

In 1989, the ‘Bounty Bowl II’ incident saw Eagles fans again throw snowballs as well as other objects such as batteries and beer at members of the Dallas Cowboys playing and coaching staff. Next, on the 10th November 1997 during a game against the San Francisco 49ers, the Philadelphia following participated in a number of large-scale brawls on national television.

These notorious events eventually led to the establishment of a small courtroom based inside the Eagles home at the Veteran Stadium. This was removed after just two years in operation after an extended period of relative calm. Despite – or because of? – these incidents, the majority of Eagles supporters remain extremely loyal and need no prompting to provide a stirring rendition of the Eagles war chant, ‘Fly, Eagles Fly’.

Fly, Eagles fly, on the road to victory!
Fight, Eagles, fight, Score a touchdown one-two-three!
Hit ’em low, hit ’em high,
And watch our Eagles fly!
Fly, Eagles fly, on the road to victory!
E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!

Greatest Players

Norm Van Brocklin

Position: Quarterback

Eagles Career: 1958-1960

Van Brocklin went down in history as the only quarterback to lead his offence to victory over Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers. As the architect of the offence, Van Brocklin took the Eagles to NFL Championship glory in 1960. The "Dutchman" made nine appearances in the NFL Pro Bowl and was named MVP (the award for the NFL’s Most Valuable Players) in 1960.

Steve Van Buren

Position: Halfback

Eagles Career: 1944-1951

Van Buren won four NFL rushing titles in his career as well as a "triple crown" in 1945 where he led in rushing, scoring and kick-off returns. He was a formidable force during the Eagles’ particularly successful period in the late 1940s. His powerful and aggressive style earned him a number of nicknames that included: "Wham Bam", "Supersonic Steve" and "Blockbuster".

Reggie White

Position: Defensive End/Defensive Tackle

Eagles Career: 1985-1992

The "Minister of Defence" made an instant impact during his debut season with the Eagles in 1985. He led with 13 sacks despite only making 13 appearances and was name NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. In eight seasons with the Eagles, White recorded a staggering 124 sacks in only 121 games before moving on to the Green Bay Packers in 1993.

Chuck Bednarik

Position: Center/Linebacker

Eagles Career: 1949-1962

Bednarik was unique due to his ability to appear regularly in both offensive and defensive units. During his career he was named in the all-NFL team in both positions. His most famous moment came during the Eagles’ NFL Championship victory over the Green Bay Packers in 1960. At 35 years old he appeared on both units and made a game-saving tackle in the dying moments to clinch victory for his team.

Tommy McDonald

Position: Wide Receiver

Eagles Career: 1957-1963

After retiring in 1968, McDonald was ranked sixth in the all-time reception list with 495 yards. He was particularly prolific over a four-year period with the Eagles, during which he scored 56 touchdowns in 63 games. His vital reception in the NFL Championship game in 1960 clinched victory for the Eagles over the Green Bay Packers.

Brian Dawkins

Position: Safety

Eagles Career: 1996-Present

Dawkins is named among only four players in NFL history to
have recorded at least 32 interceptions and 18 sacks. He also became the first ever player to record a sack, an interception, a fumble return and a touchdown reception in one game. He has made six appearances in the Pro Bowl and ranks third in the Eagles all-time appearance list with 167.

Hall of Fame

The following Philadelphia Eagles players have been inscribed in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Hall of Fame
Player Name Year of Induction Eagles Career
Chuck Bednarik 1967 1949-1962
Bert Bell 1963 1933-1940
Bob Brown 2004 1964-1968
Mike Ditka 1988 1967-1968
Bill Hewitt 1971 1937-1939
Sonny Jurgensen 1983 1957-1963
James Lofton 2003 1993
John Madden 2007 Drafted in 1958, never played in a game due to training camp injury
Ollie Matson 1972 1964-1966
Tommy McDonald 1998 1957-1963
Earle "Greasy" Neale 1969 1941-1950
Pete Pihos 1970 1947-1955
Jim Ringo 1981 1964-1967
Norm Van Brocklin 1971 1958-1960
Steve Van Buren 1965 1944-1951
Reggie White 2006 1985-1992
Alex Wojciechowicz 1968 1946-1950

Retired numbers

Several player numbers have been "retired" throughout Eagles history, meaning no other player can use the number in future. It is a way of honouring the outstanding contribution of the player and showing that they are irreplaceable.

Retired Numbers
Number Player Name Position Eagles Career
15 Steve Van Buren HB/S 1944-51
40 Tom Brookshier DB 1953-61
44 Pete Retzlaff RB/WR/TE 1956-66
60 Chuck Bednarik C/LB 1949-62
70 Al Wistert OT 1943-51
92 Reggie White DE 1985-92
99 Jerome Brown DT 1986-92

Eagles Honor Roll

The following players have been recognised by the Eagles for their outstanding contribution to the team.

Honor Roll
Number Name Position Eagles Career Year of Induction
60 Chuck Bednarik C-LB 1949-62 1987
n/a Bert Bell Founder-owner 1933-40 1987
17 Harold Carmichael WR 1971-83 1987
56 Bill Hewitt TE-DE 1936-39 and 1943 1987
9 Sonny Jurgensen QB 1957-63 1987
31 Wilbert Montgomery RB 1977-84 1987
n/a Earle "Greasy" Neale Head Coach 1941-50 1987
35 Pete Pihos TE-DE 1947-55 1987
33 Ollie Matson RB 1964-66 1987
54 Jim Ringo C 1964-67 1987
11 Norm Van Brocklin QB 1958-60 1987
15 Steve Van Buren RB-S 1944-51 1987
53 Alex Wojciechowicz C-DT 1946-50 1987
66 Bill Bergey LB 1974-80 198
25 Tommy McDonald WR 1957-63 1988
40 Tom Brookshier CB 1954-61 1989
44 Pete Retzlaff TE 1956-66 1989
22 Timmy Brown RB 1960-67 1990
76 Jerry Sisemore OT 1973-84 1991
75 Stan Walters OT 1975-83 1991
7 Ron Jaworski QB 1977-86 1992
28 Bill Bradley S-P 1969-76 1993
n/a Dick Vermeil Head Coach 1976-82 1994
n/a Jim Gallagher Team executive 1949-95 1995
82 Mike Quick WR 1982-90 1995
99 Jerome Brown DT 1987-91 1996
n/a Otho Davis Head trainer 1973-95 1999
92 Reggie White DE 1987-92 2006

Team Stats and Information

Stadium
Lincoln Financial Field

Colours
Midnight Green, Black, White and Silver

Honours
3 NFL Championships (1948, 1949, 1960)

3 Conference Championships (1960, 1980, 2004)

11 Divisional Championships (NFL East: 1947, 1948, 1949, 1960. NFC East: 1980, 1988, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006)