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By Stan Silliman
       
The Steagles


       What do you call an NFL team with a starting center deaf in one ear, the starting end blind in one eye and the starting halfback has bleeding ulcers? The Steagles. You cheated, didn’t you? No? You just looked up at the headline and made an educated guess? Good for you.

    Well, yeah, the Steagles, a 1943 team made by combining the Pittsburg Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles who, according to author Matthew Algeo,  may have saved the NFL.

    Yes, every time I watch NFL football I thank the Steagles. If Art Rooney had not volunteered to lend his Steeler players to join the Eagles there would not have been enough teams to field a league. The other option was to cancel the season and as Matthew Algeo says in his book “Last Team Standing” a competing league, the All-American Football Conference, emerged in 1946 which may have been the death knell to the NFL had they blown off the 1943 and 1944 seasons.

    Last Sunday the Steelers played the Eagles in the roughest game of the year. Pittsburg’s quarterback sacked eight times, said to have the Roethlisberger knocked out of him. Donovan McNabb was harassed so much even Rush Limbaugh felt sorry for him. Yeah, these guys hate each other.

    Hard to imagine them teaming up except it was WWII and six hundred NFL players either drafted or joined the military. With the rest of us working 48-hour-weeks and needing a Sunday diversion guys with one eye and one good ear and flat feet gave us a ten-team, ten-game season. But enough of a season the Steagles set an attendance record.

    Their thirty player roster included guys like Jack Hinkle, who came within one yard of leading the league in rushing, Bill Hewitt (an NFL Hall-of-famer) and Allie Sherman. Most were two way players, some played four positions.  The team came within one game of winning their division.
    By the way, in 1944 Rooney again lent his to combine with another team, the Chicago Cardinals to make the Card-Pitts. Unfortunately teams walked all over them, to where they went 0-10 and became known as the Car-Pets.

     I like the concept of combining teams in times of need. Today, if a war or national emergency occurs I can see combining teams from the same state. In Ohio it would be the Browns and the Bengals to make the Brown-Gals. After all, Paul Brown created both teams.
And what a cheerleading squad they could have made up mostly of ….

    In New York they’d be the Giant-Jets with blue and green colors. Their logo would be a 787 or some other giant jet.

The Steagles by
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    In Northern California, Oakland and San Francisco make up the Forty-Nine-Raiders, pirates who prospect for gold… miners with eye patches.

    In Texas, Houston and Dallas combine as the Cowboy-Texans with their logo to be cow horns with stars on the tips. Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders uniforms to change… not one wit.

    In Florida, Tampa Bay and Miami get together for the Buccan-olphins. Again with the pirates only this time the eye patch is on a dolphin.



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