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
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
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.
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.