Steagles: The 1943 Combination of the Steelers and Eagles

Updated on April 6, 2020
Readmikenow profile image

Readmikenow likes sports, both professional and amateur. He especially likes sports stories of courage and overcoming adversity.

1943 Steagles
1943 Steagles

During the 1940s, many of the players in the NFL were fighting in World War II. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles had lost so many players to the military that they were forced to merge in order for both teams to survive. The official name of the team by the NFL was the Phil-Pitt Combine. The unofficial name was the Steagles; it was given to the team by a Pittsburgh sports reporter. The name was never registered with the NFL, but many people used Steagles when speaking about the team in the media.

American Morale

In the early years of World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt gave an inspirational talk to the country about how important Major League Baseball was to the morale of Americans. During the spring meeting by NFL owners in 1943, they decided to continue operating their league just like the president had asked professional baseball. Other football leagues such as the American Association, Dixie League, and the American Football League decided to suspend league play. The NFL and Pacific Coast Professional Football League decided to continue operating.

Walt Kiesling
Walt Kiesling

Steagles Team Roster

The Steagles had 25 players on their roster. Most of the players maintained a full-time job working in a manufacturing plant. One of the Steagles players was Ted Doyle. He worked at Westinghouse during this time. Doyle later shared that he had a part in the Manhattan Project that was focused on building the first atomic bomb. The two team coaches agreed to work together during the season. Greasy Neale was the coach for the Philadelphia Eagles, and Walt Kiesling was the coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Each player had to be at least 60 inches in height and weigh in at least 105 pounds. Things that would make a person unable to serve in the military did not make them unable to play in the NFL. Players had all sorts of physical ailments such as high blood pressure, perforated eardrums, ulcers, chronic sleepwalking as well as diabetes. Many of the players also had bad knees, flat feet and more. A Steeler receiver named Tony Bova only had sight in one eye.

Art Rooney
Art Rooney

Unfair Advantage

The owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers was Art Rooney. He realized the NFL needed to have a minimum of eight teams to have a season. He had made a proposition to combine the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles two years earlier. Rooney suggested they could call the team the Pennsylvania Keystoners. At this time, the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles was a man named Alexis Thompson. He was serving in the US Army at the time with the rank of corporal. He didn't like Rooney's idea because he had 16 players under contract. Then just prior to the 1943 season, Alexis Thompson and Art Rooney approached the NFL about combining the two teams for the 1943 season. The NFL approved the merger by a vote of 5 to 4. Those that voted against it were worried that the combination of the Steelers and Eagles would give the new team an unfair advantage.

Steagles Uniforms
Steagles Uniforms

Steagles Team Colors and Home Field

It was agreed that the combined team would be referred to as the Philadelphia Eagles. Its home field would be in Philadelphia. Art Rooney had nothing that could provide him with leverage in this negotiation. He only provided six players under contract for the team. Rooney was able to negotiate two home games to be played in Pittsburgh. The combination team would wear the Eagle's green and white colors. This was only the second time in Steeler history that green and white would be used with black and gold. Helmets were required to be used by all players for the first time in 1943.

Steagles Game Ticket
Steagles Game Ticket

Low Expectations

During the previous four years in the NFL, the Steelers and Eagles had a combined record of 13-65-7. Nobody in professional football expected much from the team. The players and the two coaches didn't get along well at first. Tempers flared as player's and coach's ideas of how to play the game clashed with one another. It seems they were able to work out their differences before the start of the season.

Steagles Practices

The team used a field at Fairmount Park in Philadelphia for practice. The practices usually started around 7 pm. This enabled the people who played for the Steagles to make it to practice after working their jobs from 7 am to 3 pm. Players from Pittsburgh regularly took the train across Pennsylvania to Philadelphia. It took time to develop a team attitude. By the time the season arrived, the players and coaches had come together.

Steagles Newspaper Story
Steagles Newspaper Story

Regular Season

It seemed as if the fans from both cities enjoyed the combined team called the Steagles. Attendance for the games increased in both cities. People were often looking for something to do with their free time and watching a football game became quite popular. The Steagles were a self-confessed ragtag team. All of the players had full-time factory jobs, minimal athletic abilities and struggled to put in enough practice time. To everyone's surprise, they started the 1943 season with an impressive 17-0 victory against the Brooklyn Dodgers. In the next game, they were able to beat the Giants 28-14. The players and coaches managed to have a 5-3-1 record with one game left in the season. Tony Bova—their receiver with sight in one eye—was able to have a team-high five touchdown receptions.

Their last game would be against the Green Bay Packers. If the Steagles won the game, they could be in a first-place tie with four other Eastern Division Teams. They did need the Redskins to beat the Giants in their game during the following week. The Steagles-Green Bay game took place in front of 35,000 people in Philadelphia's Shibe Park. A large audience from Pittsburgh listened to the game on the radio. At halftime, the Steagles were down 17-14. In the third quarter, they were down 31-14. During the fourth quarter, they fought back to make the score 31-28. Then the Steagles fumbled the ball. Green Bay was able to get a touchdown pass of 24 yards with less than five minutes to play. The final score was Green Bay 38 and the Steagles 28.

Farewell Banquet

The Steagles had a farewell banquet in December of 1943. It was held at the Hotel Philadelphian. This was the last time the owners, coaches and team members would be together as Steagles. The next season the Eagles would be able to provide a full roster and have its own team. During the same time, the Steelers merged with the Chicago Cardinals. The team would be called “Card-Pitt” and go 0-10 for the 1944 season.

© 2017 Readmikenow


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)