The Great Depression Made the Eagles. WWII Made Them Champions.

The War Shaped Many Pennsylvania Boys. When They Returned, They Made the Philadelphia Eagles Winners.

It’s been eighty years since American, Canadian, Australian, and British forces landed on the beaches of Normandy to liberate Europe from the clutches of the combined Axis Powers of Germany, Japan, and Italy. From the Pacific Theater to battlefields in Europe, both former and present-day NFL players would do their duty as American soldiers.

Among the American forces who landed and fought their way up the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944 and served all over the world in WWII were many Professional Football Players like Eagles Center and Defensive Lineman Chuck Bednarik who was a waist gunner in the Army Air Corps on a B-24 Bomber for 29 missions.

Photo Courtesy of Wiki Commons.

Guard Jack Sanders (formerly a Pittsburgh Steeler) joined the Eagles in 1945 after losing a wrist and his left hand while fighting on Iwo Jima. Eagles Guard Bucko Kilroy served in the Merchant Marines during World War II.

The Eagles saw tragedy from the war, too. Kicker and halfback Michael M. “Nick” Basca was a tank commander for Third Army under George Patton was killed in action. Harry Benson was killed in the Pacific Theater.

Here’s what turned the Eagles from mediocre to masterful in the late 1940s.

It’s now something of lore that a player shortage forced the Eagles to merge with the Steelers in 1943. The Steagles were 5–4–1. The Steelers were 7–4 in 1942. The Eagles in their first decade of existence on the other hand had been a losing team.

In 1944, in an NFL Draft that hardly anyone noticed right here in Philadelphia at the famed Warwick Hotel — the Eagles drafted LSU Star running back Steve Van Buren, drafted Pete Pihos out of Indiana University in 1945, brought back quarterback Tommy Thompson, and acquired halfback Boss Pritchard after his career with the Cleveland Rams in 1942.

After winning seven games in both 1944 and 1945, the Eagles were ready to make a run for the Championship in 1947. After beating the Steelers in the playoffs, the Eagles rallied against the Chicago Cardinals but came up just short by a final score of 28–21. The following year — in a Philadelphia nor’easter — the Eagles would beat those Chicago Cardinals 7–0 to win their first NFL Championship. They would repeat in Los Angeles the following year in 1949.

To this day, the Eagles run from 1947–1949 was the most successful in team history producing two Championships. For those Eagles who brought the lessons of the WWII battlefield back to Shibe Park in Philadelphia — they helped to bring the Eagles from mediocre to masterful.

Leave Your Thoughts!

Check Also

Winning Our Hearts – Losing Our Fantasy Leagues.

Is A Building Obsession With the Eagles Destroying Your Fantasy Strategy? It’s the m…