Fifteen of the Best, Most Memorable Philadelphia Eagles Moments Before the Next Game

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Sure, Saturday night’s ass-kicking victory against the New York Giants for the NFC East Divisional Round at Lincoln Financial Field was a bold, memorable one: a 7 — 38 trouncing. Without getting too cocky, the top-seeded Philadelphia Eagles are planning to host the NFC championship game next Sunday against either San Francisco’s 49ers or Dallas’ Cowboys for what will surely be another of its signature moments since establishing the team 89 years ago (yes, the Eagles will turn 90 in July 2023).
Despite only winning the Big Game, once – Super Bowl LII at the finale of the 2017 season – Saturday’s romp was but one great moment in a nine decade-long pigskin-covered history.
Here are some of the Philadelphia Eagles’ gold-est, greenest moments and people.

The Frankford area’s Frankford Athletic Association and the Frankford Yellow Jackets

The Frankford Athletic Association may have gotten together to play football in 1899, but it wasn’t until the 1920’s that they started playing games from inside Frankford Stadium, then joined the National Football League in 1924. If you wanted to buy in, a share cost $10. This is what probably led to them going bankrupt and closing shop in the middle of a season in 1931, despite having won the NFL championship in 1926. Jeff Lurie wouldn’t have let them stop. He would have made them get real jobs.

The arrival of Bert Bell

At the top of the Great Depression, Bell – the commissioner of the NFL, and this doesn’t sound too conflict of interest-y – bought out the debt of the Yellow Jackets organization, gleaned inspiration from the New Deal’s Blue Eagle insignia of the National Recovery Administration, and renamed their new expansion team the Philadelphia Eagles. With all new players, and coached by Lud Wray, the Eagles commenced regular games at the Baker Bowl (where the Phillies played) as opposed to Shibe Park, the home of the Philadelphia Athletics club. Ironically in regard to last Saturday’s results, the Eagles lost their first ever game on October 15, 1933, against the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds. 56–0. So Saturday’s romp was payback 90 years in the making.

Art Rooney WTF?

Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney acquired half of Bert Bell’s interest in the Eagles, and in an incident unfortunately known as the Pennsylvania Polka ( I played accordion, so trust me( Rooney and Bell exchanged their entire Eagles roster and their territorial rights in Philadelphia for the entire Steelers roster and his rights in Pittsburgh. Bell became the Steelers’ head coach and Rooney became general manager. Alexis Thompson took over the Eagles, hired a head coach named “Greasy” Neale who kept the losing-est Eagles team until World War II when manpower loss made it so Philadelphia’s team had to merged with the Steelers forming the “Phil-Pitt Eagles”, the Steagles. The only thing to come out of this time was Honduran-American running back Steve Van Buren, with whom the Eagles had their first winning season in team history – 1944.

Van Buren

van buren

The first truly great Eagles player, the fast-as-hell halfback lasted eight season and brough the team to their first ever NFL Championship game in 1947. Along with winning four league rushing titles, Van Buren was the first NFL player to rush for over ten touchdowns in a season, and when he retired, he held the NFL career records for rushing attempts, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns.

Leonard Tose Part One

Before the 1949 season, the Eagles got sold to a syndicate of 100 buyers, known as the “Happy Hundred”, each of whom paid $3,000 for a share of the team. Philadelphia businessman James P. Clark was in charge of the team, but, one investor was Leonard Tose, who probably won his share in a card game. Then again, maybe Tose brought the Eagles luck as they won the NFL Championship that year.

Franklin Field and Astro Turf and The Dutchman

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Not only did the Eagles acquire QB Norm Van Brocklin, The Dutchman, at the tail end of the 1950s, the team moved to Franklin Field at the University of Pennsylvania – which all but doubled the size of the Connie Mack Stadium where they played the decade previous AND Franklin Field’s grass was replaced by artificial AstroTurf in 1969, making it the first NFL stadium to use faze turf.

“Fly Eagles Fly”

In 1955, songwriters Charles Borrelli and Richard Courtland penned “The Eagles’ Victory” fight song. Neither guy was from Philly, so where’s the emotion? In 1964, The Philadelphia Eagles’ Sound of Brass band was formed, featuring 200 musicians and dancers playing the song, until, in the 1990s, Bobby Mansure created the Philadelphia Eagles Pep Band, changed the key, changed its lyrics from “Fight, Eagles Fight” to “Fly, Eagles Fly”, and re-marketed the song. Boom.

Leonard Tose Part Two (1969–1984)

The 60s were mostly a wash for the Eagles until Swinging Leonard Tose bought them for a record $16.155 million – the most ever paid for a pro sports franchise. Echoes of HBO’s Lakers legacy series, Tose brought in receiving great Pete Retzlaff as General Manager, Jerry Williams as coach, moved them to the state of the art Veterans Stadium in 1971, lost a bunch more seasons, but brought in new old QB Roman Gabriel, young receiver Harold Carmichael, linebacker Bill Bergey, lost more, then welcomed Dick Vermeil. Vermeil looked better than he coached, but at least he wasn’t an old crab, therefore bringing youthful enthusiasm and pizzaz to the Eagles coaching staff for the first time.

“The Miracle at the Meadowlands”

Every team has at least one legendary play you can watch over and over on play reels and the one where the Eagles Herman Edwards returned a fumble by Giants’ quarterback Joe Pisarcik – again with the Giants – for a touchdown with 20 seconds left in the game, resulting in a 19–17 Eagles victory, was ours, Montgomery became the first Eagle since Steve Van Buren to exceed 1,000 yards in a season, too. There’s the Body Bag Game of 1990, between the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins at Veterans Stadium where Eagles coach Buddy Ryan told reporters they’d inflict a beating on Washington so bad “they’ll have to be carted off in body bags”. Nice. That’s because the Eagles had the “Gang Green” defense, of Reggie White, Jerome Brown, Clyde Simmons, Seth Joyner, Wes Hopkins, Mike Golic, Byron Evans, Eric Allen, Andre Waters and Mark McMillian. Killers.

Jeff Lurie Likes Green

uniform

Jeff Lurie bought the Eagles in 1994, in 1996, changed their uniform colors from the classic Kelly green to a darker midnight green and after more mixed bag seasons, eventually hired head coach Doug Pederson who wound up winning a Super Bowl LII at the end of the 2017 season, Pederson’s second season in, and devising the legendarily trick play, The Philly Special.

Swoop

Did you know that the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t have a mascot until 2005? Now we have a brawny eagle wearing a green sports jersey, looking pretty mean. His backstory was that he was “hatched in the quiet Eagles Forest of Neshaminy State Park, a bald eagle with poor eyesight and strength, but a “strong and true” heart.” Of course, he looked all pissed off.

A Philly Special Christmas Album

Jason Kelce and Conor Barwin had an idea to make a Christmas album to give back to the city of Philadelphia and benefit the Children’s Crisis Center. Next thing you know, they bring in some Parquet Courts and War On Drugs members, a few Hooters, release it on green translucent vinyl, and boom, they got the biggest selling Christmas album of 2022.

Jalen Hurts = Michael Jordan

If Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni wants to compare his genius quarterback Jalen Hurts to basketball Michael Jordan after the QB’s performance in their team’s 38-7 Giants massacre, that’s his call (Hurts too is famed for wearing a Jordan jersey)  Jordan should, however, be wearing a Jalen Hurts jersey.

Number 10

Odds comparison experts Sidelines.io named the Eagles the tenth richest NFL football team with a valuation of $4.9 billion and a revenue of $547 million. We gotta spend more.

Eagles fans

Save this mess for another column.
    • A.D. Amarosi's Headshot

      A.D. Amorosi is a Philadelphia-based journalist who, along with Philadelphia Weekly, writes for numerous local, national and international publications including Variety and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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