The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.
The Philadelphia Franchise that is now the AFC North Pittsburgh Steelers - a history lesson: How the Eagles became the Steelers, and how the Steelers became the Eagles
The two Pennsylvania teams (Pittsburgh & Philadelphia) share a fascinating early history.
Both the Eagles and the Steelers were born on July 8th 1933, a few months after Pennsylvania voters repealed the law banning sports on Sundays. The [Steelers] were brought into existence by Art Rooney, while the Eagles were created by a syndicate headed by Bert Bell. Both teams were a disaster on the field and off: they lost almost every game they played and hemorrhaged money. The other Eagles investors dropped out, and Bell was left as the teams coach, owner, GM, scout, and ticket salesman.
[T]hings got so bad for the Pittsburgh team that Art Rooney sold them to a 26-year old steel heir living in New York named Alexis Thompson, who planned to move them to Boston and call them the Ironmen. Rooney then bought a half interest in the Eagles, and Rooney and Bell decided to field a combined PA team known as the Keystoners that would play half of their home games in Pittsburgh, and half of their home games in Philly. But Thompson changed his mind about moving and decided to keep his team in Pittsburgh, foiling Bell and Rooney’s dream of the Keystoners.
Not wanting to set up headquarters in Philly and having some regrets about leaving his hometown, Rooney asked Thompson if he would simply swap teams: Thompson would move his new Steelers to Philly to become the Eagles, and Bell and Rooney would take their players to Pittsburgh. Thompson agreed. So the players on the 1940 Eagles became members of the 1941 Pittsburgh team, and members of the 1940 Pittsburgh team moved to Philly and became the Eagles. Make sense?
Two seasons later, both teams still stunk, but the Steelers were in a further bind: most of their players had been drafted into the armed forces due to WWII, and with only a few weeks to go before summer practice, they had six players under contract. That’s when Rooney and Bell decided to revisit their idea of a few years previous and combine the two teams. Thompson wasn’t crazy about the idea but agreed, and the “Phil-Pitt Combined” were born (they were never officially called the Steagles. The Philly press still called them the Eagles, but a writer for The Pittsburgh Press named Chet Smith coined the term and the name stuck).
[T]he team was fairly successful on the field, going 5-4-1. It was the first winning season for the Eagles franchise ever, and they actually defeated and tied eventual division winner Washington. The team played well and Rooney and Bell probably would have been up for reuniting [in future seasons].
The Steelers instead teamed up with the Chicago Cardinals in 1944 to become “Card-Pitt”. The team was awful, and sportswriters called them the “Carpets”, since everyone walked all over them. They finished the season 0-10.
The Eagles, meanwhile, drafted Steve Van Buren that year, and went 7-1-2.
If you were the Redskins GM (do we even have one?) looking down the Eagles roster, if you could wave a magic wand to send an Eagles player out of the division — in effect, simply pluck a player from Philly’s team and put him into the AFC where the ‘Skins would only have to see him once every 4 years — which one player would you choose?
Share your ideas in the comments.
Here are some of the higher profile players. For a full-team depth chart, you can check Our Lads.
WR: Alshon Jeffrey, Nelson Agholor, Torrey Smith
OL: Jason Peters, Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson
TE: Zach Ertz, Brent Celek
QB: Carson Wentz
RB: LeGarrette Blount
DL: Vinny Curry, Timmy Jernigan, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett
LB: Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham, Mychal Kendricks
CB: Jalen Mills
S: Rodney McLeod, Malcom Jenkins
Reserves: Donnel Pumphrey, Darren Sproles, Sidney Jones, Caleb Sturgis
Which Eagles player would you most like to send to the AFC?
This poll is closed