Philadelphia Sports Franchises: Philadelphia Eagles History
March 23, 2011 Leave a comment
NFL Championships: 1948, 1949, 1960 (all pre-Super Bowl)
Retired Numbers: #15 Steve Van Buren, #40 Tom Brookshier, #44 Pete Retzlaff, #60 Chuck Bednarik, #70 Al Wistert, #92 Reggie White, #99 Jerome Brown
Rivals: New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys
The Eagles, although successful in the pre-Super Bowl days, have made two appearances on the NFL’s biggest stage, but have not won a Super Bowl in the many years of the franchise’s history. The club was established in 1933 as a replacement for the bankrupt Frankford Yellow Jackets after a syndicate led by future NFL commissioner Bert Bell purchased the rights to a Philadelphia franchise from the league. The team was named after the Blue Eagle, a symbol that was used for the New Deal stimulus program initiated during the Great Depression. The Eagles, along with the Steelers and the now-defunct Cincinnati Reds, joined the NFL as expansion teams in the year 1940.
The Eagles struggled over the course of their first decade, enduring repeating losing season, but by the later 1940’s, head coach Earle Neale and running back Steven Van Buren led the team to three consecutive NFL championship games, with two championships coming in 1948 and 1949. These wins distinguish the Eagles as the only NFL team to ever win back-to-back championships by shutout, defeating the Chicago Cardinals 7-0 in a 1948 blizzard, and the L.A. Rams, 14-0, the following season.
In 1960, the team won their third NFL title with head coach Buck Shaw at the helm, and from on-field leaders such as future Hall of Famers Norm Van Brocklin and Chuck Bednarik. The 1960 Eagles became the only team to beat Vince Lombardi’s Packers in the playoffs, winning by a score of 17-13.
With the AFL/NFL merger in 1970, the Eagles were placed in the NFC East Division with their archrival New York Giants, along with the Dallas Cowboys, and Washington Redskins. The heated rivalry with the Giants dates all the way back to 1933, and has long been considered the best 21st century NFL rivalry.
The Eagles only had one winning season from 1962-1975. However, Dick Vermeil was hired in 1976 as head coach, and along with quarterback Ron Jaworski, led the team to four consecutive playoff appearances. The team won their first NFC East title in 1980, but lost to Oakland in the 1981 Super Bowl.
Eagles’ football struggled in the mid-80’s, until the arrival of head coach Buddy Ryan, which helped to rejuvenate team performance and ignite the fan base. However, the team failed to win a game in the playoffs during Ryan’s tenure. Ryan was fired on January 7, 1991, after an upsetting home playoff loss to the Redskins.
From 1988 to 1996, the Eagles qualified for the playoffs during 6 out of those 9 seasons, but they won the NFC East only once, in 1988. Among the team’s offensive stars during that period were quarterback Randall Cunningham, tight end Keith Jackson, and running back Herschel Walker. However, it was the “Gang Green” defense that truly defined the team during the era, one powered by Reggie White, Jerome Brown, Clyde Simmons, Seth Joyner, Wes Hopkins, and Mike Golic, among others.
In 1999, the Eagles hired head coach Andy Reid and drafted quarterback Donovan McNabb. From that time on the team continually improved, returning to the playoffs in 2000, then succeeding in winning the NFC East and playing in four consecutive conference championship games between 2001 and 2004. After losing the conference championship in 2001 to the St. Louis Rams, in 2002 to the eventual Super Bowl Champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers and in 2003 to the Carolina Panthers, the Eagles advanced to Super Bowl XXXIX at the end of the 2004 season, where they lost to the New England Patriots, 24–21. In 2006, the team earned its fifth NFC East title under Coach Reid and in 2008, the team won their 500th game. On January 11, 2009 the team defeated the defending Super Bowl Champions and the 2008 NFC East champion New York Giants 23–11 en route to their 5th NFC Championship Game in 8 years and 5th in the 10 years the Eagles have been coached by Andy Reid. In the 2008 NFC Championship Game, the Eagles lost to the Arizona Cardinals by a score of 32–25.
On August 13, 2009 the team signed quarterback Michael Vick. In December of 2009, Andy Reid became only the 5th coach in NFL history to win 100 or more games with a single team in a single decade, joining elite company that includes Don Shula, Tony Dungy, Tom Landry, and Bill Belichick. With a record of 11–5 in 2009, the Eagles landed the sixth seed for the NFC playoffs. In the wild-card playoffs, the Eagles played against the Dallas Cowboys for the second consecutive week and lost 34–14.
On April 4, 2010, the team traded long-time starting quarterback Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins in exchange for draft picks. Kevin Kolb was immediately named the starter, but after suffering a concussion in Week 1 against the Packers, Vick took over as the starter. Vick lead the Eagles to an NFC Eastern Division Championship. With a record of 10–6 the Eagles clinched the 3rd seed and had to play a wild-card playoff game. During the 2011 wild-card game the Eagles faced off against the Super Bowl XLV champion Green Bay Packers the Eagles lost the game 20–16. Stay tuned tomorrow as we discuss what’s happening today for the franchise!