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Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles are a professional American football team based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They are current members of the NFC East of the National Football Conference (NFC). The Eagles have won three NFL titles and made two Super Bowl appearances (1980 and 2004).

With the Frankford Yellow Jackets franchise remaining dormant for an extended time, Bert Bell purchased the rights to a Philadelphia franchise in 1933. Named for a symbol of FDR's New Deal, the Philadelphia Eagles began play.

Many Eagles players have made the NFL Hall of Fame including Chuck Bednarik, Bob Brown, Reggie White, Steve Van Buren, Tommy McDonald, Earle "Greasy" Neale, Pete Pihos, Sonny Jurgensen and Norm Van Brocklin. Owner and NFL Commisioner Bert Bell was also inducted.

Franchise history

Half-way through the 1931 season, in the NFL, the Frankford Yellow Jackets went bankrupt and ceased operations. After more than a year of searching for a suitable replacement, the NFL awarded the dormant franchise to a syndicate headed by Bert Bell and Lud Wray, in exchange for an entry fee of $2,500. Drawing inspiration from the insignia of the centerpiece of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, the National Recovery Act, Bell and Wray named the new franchise the Philadelphia Eagles. (Neither the Eagles nor the NFL officially regard the two franchises as the same, citing the aforementioned period of dormancy; furthermore,markell is the biggest eagles fan almost no Yellow Jackets players were on the Eagles' first roster. Some observers, however, believe the two teams should be treated as one). The Eagles, along with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the defunct Cincinnati Reds, joined the NFL as expansion teams.

The Eagles struggled over the course of their first decade, enduring repeated losing seasons. In 1943, when manpower shortages stemming from World War II made it impossible to fill the roster, the team temporarily merged with the Pittsburgh Steelers to form a team known as "the Phil-Pitt Steagles. And Pennsylvania Steagles" (The merger, never intended as a permanent arrangement, was dissolved at the end of the 1943 season.) By the late 1940s, head coach Earle "Greasy" Neale and running back Steve Van Buren led the team to three consecutive NFL Championship Games, winning two of them in 1948 and 1949. Those two Championships mark the Eagles as the only NFL team ever to win back to back Championships by shutouts, defeating the Chicago Cardinals 7-0 in 1948 and the Los Angeles Rams 14-0 in 1949.

The Eagles won their third NFL championship in 1960 under the leadership of future Pro Football Hall of Famers Norm Van Brocklin and Chuck Bednarik; the head coach was Buck Shaw. The 1960 Eagles, by a score of 17-13, became the only team to defeat Vince Lombardi and his Packers in the playoffs.

In 1969 Leonard Tose bought the Philadelphia Eagles from Jerry Wolman for $16,155,000, then a record for a professional sports franchise. Tose's first official act was to fire Coach Joe Kuharich. He followed this by naming former Eagles receiving great Pete Retzlaff as General Manager and Jerry Williams as coach.

In 1976, along with General Manager Jimmy Murray better known as funky chicken, lured Dick Vermeil from UCLA to coach the Eagles, who had only one winning season from 1962–75. Vermeil's 1980 team lost to Oakland in the Super Bowl. In January 1983, Tose announced that his daughter, Susan Fletcher, the Eagles' vice president and legal counsel, would eventually succeed him as primary owner of the Eagles.

In 1985 Tose was forced to sell the Eagles to Norman Braman and Ed Leibowitz, highly successful automobile dealers from Florida, for a reported $65 million to pay off his more than $25 million in gambling debts at Atlantic City casinos.

With the merger of the NFL and AFL in 1970, the Eagles were placed in the NFC East Division with their archrivals the New York Giants, the Washington Redskins, and the Dallas Cowboys. But they would not qualify for the postseason again until 1978 when head coach Dick Vermeil and quarterback Ron Jaworski led the team to four consecutive playoff appearances, including their first NFC East division title in 1980 and a Super Bowl XV loss to the Oakland Raiders.

Philadelphia football struggled through the Marion Campbell years of the mid 1980s and was marked by a malaise in fan participation. In 1986, the arrival of head coach Buddy Ryan and his fiery attitude rejuvenated team performance and ignited the fan base. From 1988 to 1996, the Eagles qualified for the playoffs during 6 out of those 9 seasons, but they won the NFC East only once, in 1988. Among the team's offensive stars during that period were quarterback Randall Cunningham, tight end Keith Jackson, and running back Herschel Walker. But the "Gang Green" defense is what defined the team, led by Reggie White, Jerome Brown, Clyde Simmons, Seth Joyner, Wes Hopkins,Mike Golic, Byron Evans, Eric Allen, and Andre Waters.

Jeffrey Lurie bought the Eagles on May 6, 1994 from then owner Norman Braman for $195 million. The club is now estimated to be worth $1.024 billion, as valuated in 2006 by Forbes. In 1999, the Eagles hired head coach Andy Reid and drafted quarterback Donovan McNabb. From that time on the team continually improved, returning to the playoffs in 2000, then succeeding in winning the NFC East and playing in four consecutive conference championship games between 2001 and 2004. After losing the conference championship in 2001 to the St. Louis Rams, in 2002 to the eventual Super Bowl Champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 2003 to the Carolina Panthers, the Eagles finally advanced to the Super Bowl again in 2004, Super Bowl XXXIX, where they lost narrowly to the New England Patriots, 24–21. Following a 2005 season marred by injuries and controversy among its star players, the Eagles returned to the playoffs in 2006 with an improbable run of 5 consecutive wins to end the season, bringing the team its fifth NFC East title under Coach Reid. The Eagles finished the 2007 season with 3 consecutive wins, but failed to make the playoffs, finishing 8–8.

Logo and uniforms

For several decades, the Eagles ' colors were Kelly green, silver, and white. Since the 1950s, the club's helmets have featured eagle wings, originally silver on a Kelly green helmet. In 1969, the team wore two helmet versions: Kelly green with white wings for road games, and white with Kelly green wings for home games. From 1970 to 1973, they wore the white helmets with Kelly green wings exclusively before switching back to Kelly green helmets with silver wings. By 1974 the silver wings took on a white outline, and this style on a Kelly green helmet became standard for over two decades. In 1969, the team introduced a stylized logo featuring an eagle carrying a football in its claws. This logo was redrawn several years later to be made more realistic.

However, both the logo and uniforms were radically altered in 1996. The primary Kelly green color was changed to a darker shade (Hex triplet: #003b48) officially described as "midnight green"; silver was practically abandoned, as uniform pants moved to either white or the aforementioned midnight green; and the traditional helmet wings were changed to a primarily white color, with silver and black accents. The team's logo combination - the stylized eagle and club name lettering - also changed in 1996, with the eagle itself limited to a white (bald eagle) head, drawn in a less realistic, more cartoon-based style, and the lettering changing from calligraphic to block letters.

Since the 1996 alterations, the team has made only minor alterations, mostly relating to jersey/pant combinations worn during specific games. For example, in 1997, against the San Francisco 49ers, the team wore midnight green jerseys and pants for the first of only 2 occasions in team history. And in the first two games of the 2003 season (both home losses to Tampa Bay and New England), the Eagles wore white jerseys with white pants. The white jerseys along with white pants are worn during all preseason games, since 2003. However, in every regular season game since the New England loss, when the team has worn the white jersey they have paired it with green pants.

The 2003 season also saw the first (though only subtle) change to the 1996-style uniform. On both white and green jerseys, black shadows and silver trim were added to both the green and white numbering. The stripe on the pants changed from black-green-black to black-silver-green on the white pants, and from a solid black stripe to one stripe of black, another of silver, with one small white stripe in between for the midnight green pants. The 2003 season also saw the team debut black alternate jerseys, with a green (instead of black) shadow on white numbers, and silver trim. These black jerseys have been worn for two selected home games each season (usually the first home game after BYE week and season finale). In the 2003 and 2004 regular-season home finales, the team wore the green road pants with the black alternate jerseys, but lost each game. Since then, the Eagles have only worn the black jerseys with the white pants. However, the Eagles did not wear the alternate black jersey during the 2007 season. The team also started wearing black shoes exclusively in 2004.

Like most NFL teams, the Eagles generally wear their midnight green jerseys and white pants for home games while wearing the white jersey and green pants for road games. However, since 2003, the Eagles have worn their white road jersey for their home opener at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles also wear their white jersey at home against the Dallas Cowboys.

To celebrate the team's 75th anniversary, the 2007 uniforms feature a 75th season logo patch on the left shoulder. In addition, the team wore 'throwback' jerseys in a 2007 game against the Detroit Lions. The yellow and blue jerseys, the same colors found on Philadelphia's city flag, are based on those worn by the Philadelphia Eagles in the team's inaugural season, and were the same colors used by the former Frankford Yellowjackets franchise prior to their suspension of operations in 1931. The Eagles beat Detroit, 56-21.

Season-by-season records

Fight song

Fly, Eagles Fly, on The Road to Victory!

Fight, Eagles, Fight, Score a Touchdown 1-2-3!

Hit 'em low, hit 'em high,

And watch our Eagles fly!

Fly, Eagles fly, On The Road to Victory!

E-A-G-L-E-S Eagles!

The Eagles fight song is heard after every Eagles touchdown at home.

Eagles fans

The Eagles begin each season with summer training camp at the football facilities of Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, located about 50 miles north of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley. Eagles training camp in Bethlehem is notable for routinely drawing some of the largest and most enthusiastic crowds of any NFL team's training camp, with crowds typically exceeding 10,000 and sometimes as many as 20,000 to the Eagles' twice-daily training camp practices.

Eagles fans' devotion to their team is reflected by ticket sales: games are invariably sold out, and the waiting list for season tickets numbers 60,000. In June 2006, tickets for home games were sold out in a matter of minutes after phone and internet lines opened. Despite finishing with a 6-10 record in the 2005-2006 season, the Eagles ranked second in the NFL in merchandise sales the following year.

Eagles fans have become notorious in the NFL for their enthusiasm, knowledge and team loyalty, and especially for their bad behavior. Eagles' fans enthusiastically embrace hard-edged, dedicated play, but they have also turned quickly against teams perceived as lacking a sufficient commitment to winning.

Celebrity fans

The Philadelphia Eagles have several celebrity fans, predominantly including celebrities who currently live, or once lived, in or near Philadelphia, including:

Charitable activity

Eagles Fly for Leukemia, Ronald McDonald Houses

In 1971, Kim Hill, the daughter of Philadelphia Eagles tight end Fred Hill was diagnosed with leukemia. As Hill and his family dealt with the devastating blow to the family, his teammates and owner Leonard Tose pledged their emotional support.

As Fred continued to research Kim's leukemia, the support of Leonard Tose and the Philadelphia Eagles continued to inspire him. The Eagles held fund raising dinners, the team made individual contributions, and Fred and Kim continued to bravely battle this disease.

After Kim's successful treatment, Fred realized how powerful the spirit of solidarity that his teammates displayed truly was. Fred became committed to helping other families battle pediatric cancers. From helping them identify resources, to assisting financially, Fred and his teammates continued their fight against childhood cancers. In 1972, Philadelphia Eagles owner Leonard Tose officially recognized Eagles Fly for Leukemia as the official philanthropy of the Philadelphia Eagles Football Club.

The spirit of the Eagles and Leonard Tose led to the development of the world's first Ronald McDonald House, a place for families to find shelter when their children are sick. Now, over 200 Ronald McDonald houses shelter thousands of families around the world.

The spirit continued, and over the last 30 years, "Eagles Fly for Leukemia" has raised over $10 million towards pediatric cancer research and Family Support.

In 1991, Eagles Fly for Leukemia soared higher, and established itself as a free-standing non-profit organization, outside of the Philadelphia Eagles Football Club. However, the spirit remains, with the Eagles continuing to support and encourage Eagles Fly for Leukemia initiatives.

Eagles Youth Partnership

In 1995, in an effort to better give back to the community, Eagles Youth Partnership (EYP) was formed as a 501(c)(3) public charity in the emerging field of sports philanthropy.

Eagles Youth Partnership (EYP) serves over 50,000 low income children in the Greater Philadelphia region every year via two mobile units, the Eagles Eye Mobile, which gives eye examinations, and the Eagles Book Mobile, a literacy program. EYP is also known for annual playground builds in underserved neighborhoods, an annual chess tournament, and a variety of other programs and events.

The Philadelphia Eagles Football Club is the EYP's largest funder. The Eagles also donate free office space, staff support and other resources in support of the organization. Corporate, foundation and individual donors join to support Eagles Youth Partnership's efforts.

Players of note

Current roster

Pro Football Hall of Famers

Retired numbers

Eagles Honor Roll

In 1987, the Eagles Honor Roll was established. Each Eagle player who had by then been elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame was among the inaugural induction class.

Current Eagles Honor Roll members include:

Despite having his number 70 retired, Al Wistert has not yet been inducted into the Eagles Honor Roll.

Bednarik, Bell, Pihos, Van Buren, McDonald, White and broadcaster Bill Campbell have all been inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame.

75th anniversary team

Other notable alumni (excluding Hall of Fame and Honor Roll inductees)

Coaches of note

Current staff

Radio and television

Beginning with the 2008 season, Eagles games will now be broadcasted on both 94.1 WYSP-FM and Sports Radio 610 WIP-AM, as both stations are owned and operated by CBS Radio. Merrill Reese, who joined the Eagles in the mid-1970s, is the play-by-play announcer, and former Eagles wide receiver Mike Quick is the color analyst. Former Eagles linebacker Bill Bergey is among several Eagles post-game commentators on WYSP.

Most preseason games are televised on WPVI, the local ABC owned and operated station. Television announcers for these preseason games are Gus Johnson and Charley Casserly

The Eagles also helped to usher in the television as a national phenomenon in the United States, when a contest between the Eagles and the Brooklyn Dodgers became the first NFL game broadcast on a major television network (NBC) on October 22, 1939.

Notes and references

External links

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