NFL - NFC EAST
2022-2023 TEAM LEADERS
NFL football began in Philadelphia with the Frankford Athletic Association’s Yellow Jackets, which was an independent football team in the city that won six games against NFL teams. The league was so impressed that they offered the Association an NFL franchise in 1924. In 1926 the Yellow Jackets won the NFL Championship, but by the end of the decade they were bankrupt, and they ceased operations midway through the 1931 season. The NFL immediately began looking for a replacement, and awarded the 1933 expansion rights, as well as any remaining Yellow Jackets assets, to Bert Bell and Lud Wray. The two men named the team the Eagles, inspired by an insignia used by President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. The Eagles shared a stadium with the Philadelphia Phillies, the Baker Bowl, and they played their first game in franchise history at the Polo Grounds against the Giants, a 56-0 loss. A bad loss that set the table for a bad start to a franchise. It wasn’t until 1944 before the Eagles had their first winning season. And soon after that, they were at the top of the NFL.
Championships by the Philadelphia Eagles
Once World War II ended and the rosters of the NFL returned to normal, the Eagles were the most consistently good team in the league. They were a second place team in 1945 and 1946 and lost the NFL Championship in 1947 to the Chicago Cardinals. But they returned to the championship game the very next year.
1948 NFL Championship
In a rematch against the Chicago Cardinals, and this time in a blizzard in Philadelphia, the Eagles won the championship, 7-0, with running back Steve Van Buren scoring the game’s only touchdown.
1949 NFL Championship
For the third straight season the Eagles played for the NFL Championship, and for the second straight year they won, beating the Los Angeles Rams, 14-0. Steve Van Buren was again the hero, rushing for 196 yards. This was also the first NFL Championship to be broadcast on television.
1960 NFL Championship
Perhaps the most famous year in Eagles history was the NFL Championship team of 1960, which beat the Packers, 17-13. It was the first and only time that Vince Lombardi was beaten in the postseason. Adding to the legend was the presence of future Hall of Famers Norm Van Brocklin and Chuck Bednarik, two of the most popular Eagles to ever play.
Super Bowl LII
The Eagles had previously made it to two Super Bowls, losing to the Raiders after the 1980 season and the Patriots after the 2004 season. But in Super Bowl LII they got their revenge, beating the Patriots, 41-33, with backup quarterback Nick Foles winning the MVP award. The game featured 1,151 total yards of offense (613 yards by the Patriots) and only one punt.
Key Stats by the Philadelphia Eagles
Along with their three NFL Championships and the win in Super Bowl LII, the Eagles won two other NFC Championships. They have won their division 14 times – the NFL East in 1947, 1948, and 1949, and the NFC East in 1980, 1988, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2010, 2013, 2017, and 2019. The Eagles have been in the postseason a total of 27 times. The first NFL Draft was held in 1936 and it was the idea of the Eagles first co-owner Bert Bell. Bell would later serve as the NFL commissioner from 1946 to 1959. The very first televised NFL game was on October 22, 1939, and involved the Eagles and Brooklyn Football Dodgers. In 1943, due to a player shortage because of men serving in World War II, the Steelers and Eagles merged teams, and were called the Steagles.
Top Players in Philadelphia Eagles History
Steve Van Buren was a star on the Eagles championship teams of the 1940s and was the first running back in NFL history to run for multiple 1,000-yard seasons (1947, 1949). He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965. Chuck Bednarik was a full-time two-way center and linebacker and was a 10-time First-team All-Pro. The two-time All-American was the number one overall pick in 1949 and an NFL champion in 1960. He’s a member of both the Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame. Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen played more seasons in Washington, but he had great success in Philadelphia, where he won an NFL Championship and twice led the league in passing yards.
Reggie White is considered one of the most dominant defensive ends in NFL history, and 124 of his 198 career sacks came with the Eagles. Other Eagles in the Hall of Famers include wide receiver Tommy McDonald, offensive tackle Bob Brown, wide receiver Harold Carmichael, and safety Brian Dawkins, the only player in NFL history to record a sack, a fumble recovery, an interception, and a touchdown in the same game.
Top Coaches in Eagles History
The first of the great Eagles coaches is Earle Neale, who coached the team throughout the 1940s and won two NFL Championships in Philadelphia. He was a two-sport star as an athlete, playing with Jim Thorpe and the Canton Bulldogs, and with the Cincinnati Reds as an outfielder. He is the only man in American sports history to coach an NFL Championship winning team and win a World Series. Neale is the only former Eagles head coach in the Hall of Fame currently, but eventually he will have company.
Dick Vermeil is in the Eagles Hall of Fame and the St. Louis Ring of Fame, and someday he will make it to Canton. He won two NFL Coach of the Year Awards (1979 with the Eagles and 1999 with the Rams) and Super Bowl XXXIV. Andy Reid’s 130 wins ranks first in Eagles history. He also won 10 postseason games in Philadelphia, including the NFC Championship in 2004. He’s been to two more Super Bowls in Kansas City, including a win in Super Bowl LIV, and he is a lock to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame once he retires.