Monday, February 16, 2009

Tribute Tuesday-The Steagles

If you want to give someone their 'props' be sure to run by Wayne's Window to the World to join Tribute Tuesday.

Public Service Notice-As a Cowboys fan, I do not like any team from either Pittsburgh or Philadelphia...but this story transcends simple fan hatred and jealousy. It is something that is as touching as it is poignant. It is the story of the Steagles.

The year was 1943. Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Pacific were waging arguably the most important war of our civilization. All eyes and hearts lived and died with every report, wondering if the next names that were written or read would be their sons, fathers, husbands. In an act that was truly American, we decided the games must continue. As you noticed perhaps during 9/11, we truly have to have our sports. Roosevelt decided that the NFL must function to give Americans a much needed outlet for their emotions.

There was an obvious problem with this request, however. Most men that were eligible to play in the NFL were already fighting. Teams were gutted as players traded football uniforms for soldier's gear. However, because of the 'flatfoot' syndrome, several players throughout the league were not allowed in the military. So some teams were intact. Two teams that weren't however were the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Art Rooney, owner of the Steelers, and Alexis Thompson, owner of the Eagles, decided to join the teams together for survival. The teams would be called the 'Steagles'.

At first it was a disaster.

Old bitterness and past 'treachery' on the gridiron had these 'teammates' not trusting, much less liking each other. These were bitter interstate rivals who hated the other team worst than any other. They survived training camp....and by survive I mean that in every sense of the word. They worked sixty hours a week at their jobs at plants and factories for the war effort and then they practiced...with people they didn't like. Tensions stretch nerves to the breaking point as fights broke out frequently. Of course, there was one other slight thing that was also threatening to make this 1943 season a failure.

Even before the two teams joined....they sucked.

These two teams when they were the Eagles and the Steelers fought each other for last place in the NFL. There were several hills to climb as the lines between the teammates began to be erased.

However, this season would be memorable. The combined team would post a winning record at 5-4-1. In this story book season, they would play the NFL champion Washington Redskins twice. The Redskins boasted a deadly air attack with QB Sammy 'Slingin' Sammy' Baugh taking the snaps. The first time would be a tie 14-14. The second time, the castoffs...the worst of the worst...would defeat the NFL champion 'Skins 27-14 in a game that was never as close as the score seemed.

The aftermath was the team split again in 1944. Even though the Steelers couldn't field at team, they left the Eagles to their own devices and joined the Chicago Cardinals and proceeded to go winless as the 'Carpet' team was truly a team that was walked on that year.

The Steagles showed that all things could be put aside for a greater cause. In wartime Pennsylvania they rose spirits and gave insipiration to countless souls. (Including mine some sixty years later.)

It was the stuff of legends.

----Lane (SD)


Following Him said...

I have NEVER heard of this before. What a great history lesson! Btw...thanks for what you do as a teacher!

Jenners said...

Well, we have a problem. I don't know if I can continue to read your blog if you are Cowboys fan and I was raised an Eagles fan. I guess I can make a small exception but if I visit again and I am blocked, I'll know you hold a grudge!

Cool story!

Mama SeWELL said...

Cool Tribute! I learned something new today, I'll have to use that to quiz our friend in Armpittsburgh. See if the die hard Steelers fan he is will know that.

Kalei said...

thanks for tributing my team. We in "six"burgh =) don't talk fondly of the eagles much, but our affinity is definetly softened due to such legendary moments. Cowboys will have their moment again, I don't hate. =) Hows the new Hoop set? =) Oh, and Happy Birthday!


Kalei said...

actually I misread Jills Post. It isn't your Bday, it is her dads bday.....Well Happy Un-Birthday to you anywho!

Jenn said...

That really is an awesome story. I've never heard it before! Is there a movie about that? It seems like the kind of thing Hollywood would have picked up by now. Thanks for sharing.

Wayne said...

What a great story I have watched NFL all my life and have alwasy wonderd what happend durin the war time with playyers n all. now I know. Thank you so much and this is a great tribute to the steagles

Liz (Loving Mom 2 Boys) said...

What an amazing story...

I tagged you in my latest post...pop by my blog and play along (if you are interested)

Jeanette "Frogster" said...

will I get blocked too if I say proudly that I am an Eagles fan?! It's been a long time since I heard that story - you wrote it well!

Heather said...

Wow! I never knew about this! Growing up in north east Ohio, we hear a lot about the Steelers, as they are rivals to our Cleveland Browns, and never once have I heard this mentioned! So interesting. And their record wasn't so bad, but maybe I'm just use to losing football teams! LOL