In 1933, a syndicate led by Bert Bell and Lud Wray purchased the former Frankford Yellowjackets franchise for $2,500, and the Eagles have become a Philadelphia institution ever since. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh traded their home cities in 1941 when Alexis Thompson became the owner of the Eagles.
Due to a manpower shortage caused by World War II, the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh franchises joined forces for one season in 1943. The team was known as the Phil-Pitt and the Steagles. With Greasy Neale of the Eagles and Walt Kiesling of the Steelers as coaches, the team finished 5-4-1.
Neale coached the Eagles for ten seasons from 1943, leading them to their first successes in the NFL. Guided by Steve Van Buren, Alex Wojciechowicz, Pete Pihos and in 1949, Chuck Bednarik – all Pro Football Hall of Fame members – the team’s dominance in the league was stellar over a six-year period. They placed second in the Eastern division in 1944, 1945 and 1946; subsequently winning the division title in 1947 followed by triumphant shutout wins at both 1948 and 1949 championships.
WHAT A CATCH BY @DeVontaSmith_6! 🔥
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) September 15, 2023
In 1958, the Eagles endured a rash of injuries that caused them to bottom out in their division. However, Buck Shaw took on the challenge of rebuilding Philadelphia’s football program and traded for quarterback Norm Van Brocklin. Just three years later, the Eagles were Eastern Division champions with a 10-2 record and had won their third championship behind Van Brocklin’s on-field guidance. The title was clinched when Chuck Bednarik tackled Jim Taylor of Green Bay in a spectacular open field move on the last play.
The Eagles came close to claiming yet another NFL Eastern conference championship in 1961, but they were unable to reach the playoffs until 1978 after 18 years. For the next four seasons, Coach Dick Vermeil’s teams participated in post-season games each year. In 1980, Philadelphia achieved a franchise-best 12 wins, snatching up the Eastern division title ahead of Dallas and beating them 20-7 for the NFC crown. Sadly, their Super Bowl XV campaign ended in defeat at the hands of the Raiders 27-10.
In 1988, the Eagles won the NFL Eastern division championship. From that year on, Philadelphia, which was particularly dominating on defense, won 10 or more games five straight years until 1993. In four of those years, the Eagles entered the playoffs as a wildcard team, and in 1995 they repeated this feat.
In 1999, Andy Reid was named the team’s head coach, and he had an immediate impact. Instantly transforming them into a powerful force in the NFL, they won their division six times between 2000 and 2013, going to the postseason nine times and even making Super Bowl XXXIX. Being in charge for 14 seasons, Reid was the longest reigning coach in franchise history before passing on the torch to Chip Kelly, University of Oregon’s head coach. He made his mark right away, leading the Eagles’ to an NFC East Division title in his first year with them.