The Philadelphia Eagles are an institution in the “City of Brotherly Love” and they are among the most traditional teams in the NFL, because they were already established in 1933. However, the Eagles never were among the most successful teams: In its 70-year history, the Eagles only won three league titles.
In 1933, a group led by Bert Bell and Lud Wray acquired a franchise for Philadelphia from the NFL. They named their new team Philadelphia Eagles, and with them the pro football came back to Philadelphia. There – or more precisely in Frankford, a Philadelphia suburb that now belongs to the city – the Frankford Yellow Jackets, another NFL team, already played there from 1924 to 1931. And this team was quite successful: in 1926 Yellow Jackts won the championship.
In the beginning the Eagles, who were trained by the two owners Wray and Bell themselves in the early days, didn’t create a furor on the field, but the more off the field. In 1941, Bell who had become the only owner of the Eagles in the meantime, agreed with Alexis Thompson, the co-owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, to swap ownership rights: Bell took over Thompson’s shares in the Pittsburgh Steelers andThompson got Bell’s shares in the Philadelphia Eagles.
The new owner appointed Earle “Greasy” Neale as the new coach, under who the Eagles improved slowly but steadily. Neale managed to contract outstanding players like running back Steve Van Buren, center Alex Wojciechowicz, wide receiver Pete Pihos and later linebacker Chuck Bednarik to form a team which played in three consecutive NFL Championship Games in the late 1940s and was able to win two league titles, a perfect time to watch Philadelphia Eagles games.
A number of serious injuries ended the brief dominance of Philadelphia though and the Eagles went back to the bottom of the league tables. In 1958, Buck Shaw became the new coach who managed to lead the Egales to their so far last NFL title within three years. Led by quarterback Norm Van Brocklin who had been taken over from the Los Angeles Rams, and Sonny Jurgensen the Eagles reached the final again in 1960, where they defeated the Green Bay Packers in a dramatic game 17:13.
However, this success was followed by an even longer losing streak of the Philadelphia Eagles: 18 years would pass before the Eagles were able to reach the playoffs again. In 1980, they even reached the Super Bowl as slight favorites under head coach Dick Vermeil, but they were beaten by the Oakland Raiders with 27:10.
In the late 1990s, the Eagles finally establish themselves among the best teams in the NFL. With head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Donovan McNabb two personalities took over the control in Philadelphia, who led the Eagles far in the playoffs year after year. After three consecutive defeats in the NFC Championship Game, the Eagles finally reached the Super Bowl in 2004, but there were defeated by the New England Patriots.
The Philadelphia Eagles originally played on Franklin Field at the University of Philadelphia. In 1971 the team moved into the Veterans Stadium, one of the most feared and loudest stadiums in the NFL. In 2003 the new and more modern Lincoln Financial Field finally opened, which lives up to the new self-confidence of the team.