Fly, Steagles, Fly?
Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have a tendency to butt heads when it comes to sports. While the Penguins and the Flyers are more known for their cross-state hockey rivalry, it is not above Eagles and Steelers fans to argue over which team controls the state. The debate will be brought up once again during the 2020 season, as the Steelers are set to host the Eagles at Heinz Field.
Based on head-to-head matchups, the Eagles have handled the Steelers 48-28-3, but if we are judging by Super Bowl titles, the Steelers have the Birds beat 6-1. However, both of these records leave out the 1943 season. Here's why:
During World War II, NFL players were asked to join the war efforts, forcing them to put their football careers on hold. This left many teams lacking players, putting their seasons in jeopardy. Not wanting to lose a full season of football, the Eagles and the Steelers took it upon themselves to join forces under the official name "Phil-Pitt Combine". Unofficially, the team was known as the Steagles.
What seemed to be a reasonable business move quickly turned into a disaster when Philly's Greasy Neale and Pitt's Walt Kiesling, refused to step back from their positions, leaving the team with two head coaches and two very different styles of coaching.
Going into the 1943 season, the Steelers had only one winning season while the Eagles had never seen the good side of .500. To the surprise of fans, coaches and players, the Steagles went 5-4-1.
Following the season, the Steelers merged with the Chicago Cardinals, and the Eagles went back to being Philly's own. The Card-Pitt team produces a 0-10 record and went their separate ways after the '44 season, while the Eagles emerged with a 7-1-2 record. Just four years after the Steagles historic merger, Philadelphia beat Pittsburgh in the Eastern Divisional playoff game to advance to the '47 National Championship, eventually losing to the Chicago Cardinals. The Eagles then won the Championship in '48 and '49. The Steelers floated around .500 in the seasons following.
The Steagles brought Philly their first winning football season, and we can be thankful for that. The past month has been a strange time for sports, but at least it hasn't been "merge teams to stay afloat weird". Keep pushing forward and be thankful we aren't yelling "fly, Steagles, fly".
For more information about the historic Steagles team, you visit read all about it on the Eagles' official website.