professional football team and one of five teams in the Eastern Division
of the National Football Conference (NFC) of the National Football
League (NFL). The Eagles play at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, and wear uniforms of green, silver, black, and white. The
team began play in 1924 as the Frankford (Pennsylvania) Yellow Jackets.
Owners Bert Bell and Lud Wray moved the team to Philadelphia in 1933 and
changed its name to the Eagles after the symbol of the National Recovery
Administration, which had been created as part of the New Deal.
The Eagles captured three NFL titles from 1948 to 1960, earning
consecutive crowns in 1948 and 1949 under head coach Earle “Greasy”
Neale. His potent offensive squad starred future Hall of Fame members
end Pete Pihos, halfback Steve Van Buren, and center Chuck Bednarik, who
also played linebacker for the defensive unit.
Led by wide receiver Harold Carmichael and quarterback Ron Jaworski,
Philadelphia played in Super Bowl XV in 1981 but lost to the Oakland
Raiders. The club qualified for the playoffs six times from 1988 to
1996, with lineups starring wide receiver Fred Barnett, quarterback
Randall Cunningham, running backs Herschel Walker and Ricky Watters, and
defensive end Reggie White. The Eagles ended a long drought by
playing in Super Bowl XXXIX, but, lost 24-21.
In 1933 Bert Bell and Lud Wray bought the NFL’s Frankford Yellow Jackets
and moved the team to Philadelphia. Renamed the Eagles, the club
struggled, posting losing records in each of its first ten seasons.
By the mid-1940s, however, the Eagles had improved. From 1947 to 1949,
Greasy Neale piloted the club to three consecutive Eastern Division
crowns and two league titles. Steve Van Buren, a mainstay of these
teams, captured three of his four NFL rushing titles from 1947 to 1949.
Pete Pihos led the league in receptions three times during his career
and in receiving yards twice. Chuck Bednarik missed just three games in
14 seasons in Philadelphia.
After posting five losing records in the 1950s, the Eagles won their
third NFL crown in 1960. Quarterback Norm Van Brocklin, playing his
final season, was named the league’s most valuable player (MVP) after
passing for nearly 2500 yards. Van Brocklin’s favorite targets, wide
receivers Tommy McDonald and Pete Retzlaff, helped Philadelphia rally to
defeat the Green Bay Packers in the championship game.
In 1961 Van Brocklin was replaced at quarterback by another eventual
Hall of Fame member, Sonny Jurgensen. In his first full season Jurgensen
threw for a league-record 3723 yards, breaking the previous mark by more
than 600 yards. (The record is now held by Dan Marino of the Miami
Dolphins, who threw for 5084 yards in 1984.) Nearly a third of
Jurgensen’s yards went to McDonald, who led the league in yardage (1144)
and touchdowns (13).
From 1962 through 1977 Philadelphia employed six different head coaches,
but the team could not remain an NFL force. Although the Eagles boasted
individual stars in running back Timmy Brown, wide receiver Harold
Jackson, quarterback Roman Gabriel, and linebacker Bill Bergey, the
Eagles did not reach the playoffs until 1978, Dick Vermeil’s second year
as head coach.
From 1978 to 1981 Vermeil guided the Eagles to four consecutive playoff
appearances. In 1981 the team advanced to the Super Bowl, where they
lost to the Oakland Raiders 27-10.
After a six-year playoff drought, Philadelphia qualified for the
postseason four times from 1988 to 1992. Guided by former Chicago Bears
defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan, the Eagles developed a slashing
offense centered around Randall Cunningham, who became a skilled passer
and also emerged as one of the greatest running quarterbacks in NFL
history. Cunningham was the Eagles’ top rusher each year from 1987 to
1990; in 1990 he threw for 30 touchdowns and rushed for more than 1000
yards. Under head coach Ray Rhodes, Philadelphia earned Wild Card berths
in the playoffs in 1995 and 1996.
1981 Super Bowl XV Lost to Oakland Raiders, 27-10
NFL History Guide