Who were the “Steagles”?

Who were the Steagles?

In 1943, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles were forced to merge their organizations to stay financially solvent. Officially known as Phil-Pitt in NFL books, the fans called the team the Steagles.

Uniform of the 1943 Phil-Pitt “Steagles”

The traditional black and gold uniforms go back to the inaugural 1933 season, however, Pittsburgh has worn green, red, and blue uniforms during the Second World War due to mergers the Steelers were forced to make for financial reasons with the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Cardinals in 1943 and 1944, respectively.

On June 19, 1943, the NFL gave the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh organizations’ permission to merge for one season due to the lack of players and coaches available due to enlistment in the military for World War II. (Twenty-three NFL players or coaches died in World War II.) Home games were played split between both cities. Even the coaching duties were split: Philadelphia’s Earle “Greasy” Neale and Pittsburgh’s Walt Kiesling worked as co-coaches.

For Pittsburgh owner Art Rooney, however, the merger proved to be successful enough that he was willing to do it again for the 1944 season. Players were still sparse due to the war effort and Rooney’s funds were shallow, as was that of the Chicago Cardinals. Instead of partnering with the Eagles for the 1944 season, Rooney’s Steelers merged with Charles Bidwell’s Chicago Cardinals.

The NFL officially recognized the 1944 merger as Card-Pitt, but the woeful team quickly became known to fans as the “Carpets” because the woeful team let every opponent walk all over them. Outscored 328-108, the “Carpets” finished the season 0-10. As with the 1943 season, the co-head coaches were Chicago’s Phil Handler and Pittsburgh’s Kiesling.






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