Fly Steagles Fly!
There maybe no greater rivalry than the battle of Pennsylvania. Sometimes even transcending sports, to an actual games of one-upmanship, whose food is better, who’s accents are less atrocious sounding. The Penguins/Flyers rivalry in the NHL has been well documented. But how about Primanti Bros vs Geno’s? Sheetz vs Wawa? ‘Yinz’ vs ‘Yous’? I could go on all day.
When called upon however, citizens of the two largest cities in the commonwealth have put aside differences and come together twice now. One was this past week, when the cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and their surrounding suburbs voted overwhelmingly to give their states’ 20 electoral votes to Joseph R Biden. Putting him over the magic number of 270 and electing him as the 46th President of the United States.
A lesser known story takes place in 1943.
During the 1943 season, with the US in the throes of World War II the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles, having lost many players to the war effort, were forced to merge together. On the record books they were known as the PHIL-PITT Combine, but the people of Pa knew them only as the ‘Steagles’
With the NFL loosing upwards of 600 players who signed up to serve, it was Steelers owner Art Rooney who came up with the idea to merge the teams. The merger would give the NFL an even 8 teams for the season. The Steagles, along with the New York Giants, Washington Football Team, Brooklyn Dodgers, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions and Chicago Cardinals.
In classic Pittsburgh, Philly fashion the Steagles had two head coaches, Greasy Neale (Eagles) and Walt Kiesling (Steelers), because neither wanted to be demoted to assistant under the other. Oh and also, they hated each other too. Home games were split between Philadelphia’s Shibe Park and Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field. The team would go 5-4-1 and it would actually be the Eagles first winning season on record.
Pittsburgh and Philly generally keep to themselves with the vast swath of the Keystone state between them. They can get quite heated when the Penguins play the Flyers. But other than that it’s simple jawing over whose city is better and why. The Steagles had always been a reminder that when they needed to, Pittsburgh and Philly can work together and even become friendly with one another…until the next time the Penguins play the Flyers.