It’s Been 40 Years Since Philadelphia Nearly Lost the Eagles.

That’s right, this is an anniversary that Philadelphia would probably rather forget. 

In fact, it’s one that few probably remember.

Forty years ago, in 1984, the Eagles were a struggling franchise. Like many NFL teams, the Eagles had recently endured the pain of the 1982 NFL strike year. Philadelphia owner Leonard Tose, who had helped to develop the Ronald McDonald House, was also one of the last of the “Happy Hundred.”

The “Happy Hundred” were a group of investors who owned the Eagles between 1949 and 1960. A tenure in which the Eagles won the World Championship twice, in both 1949 and 1960.

But just four years after the Eagles advanced to the Super Bowl for the first time in the franchise, Tose had fallen on hard times. A gambling addiction ravaged him. After the City of Philadelphia was not responsive when Tose wanted to install skyboxes at Veterans Stadium to bring in more revenue, Eagles ownership began looking at all options.

Following an attempt to swap the Bills to Philadelphia in exchange for the Eagles with Bills owner Ralph Wilson, Tose began to have secret conversations about moving the team to Phoenix, Arizona.

The front page of The Inquirer after the paper’s reporters confirmed Bob Hurt’s story that Leonard Tose was planning to move the Eagles to Phoenix.

On December 12th, 1984 —The Philadelphia Inquirer broke the story about the Eagles impending move. Mayor Wilson Goode and Pennsylvania Senator Vince Fumo worked tirelessly, even meeting with Tose personally to help to squash the deal. The City of Philadelphia would pay $10 Million in stadium improvements as well as fifty skyboxes for the Vet in order to hold onto the Eagles.

In 1985, Leonard Tose sold the Eagles to Florida auto dealers Ed Leibowitz and Norman Braman for $65 Million.

Despite all of his hardships, few people loved the Eagles as much as Leonard Tose.

Back in 1984, when the Eagles nearly moved from Philadelphia.

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