Even the youngest fans of football are aware of the Philadelphia Eagles winning the elusive Super Bowl. They may not be aware that the Eagles were the only team to beat Vince Lombardi’s Packers in a playoff. This was en route to winning the 1960 NFL Championship. But how was Eagles football born?
What most people do not know is the first NFL Championship for the City of Brotherly Love was actually in 1926. The Frankford Yellow Jackets who were the inspiration for the Frankford El. They went 14-1-2 and became champions of the NFL.
Frankford Yellow Jackets
The Yellow Jackets played in the Frankford section of Philadelphia, more precisely, the Wissinoming section. The franchise was started in 1899 as an independent team. The old Philadelphia “Blue Laws” prohibited games on Sunday. The team would play at home on Saturday and travel for Sunday games.
Most of the players lived and worked right in the neighborhood. The team was so popular that the Frankford El was constructed so fans had an easier route to Yellow Jackets Field.
Hall of Famer, Guy Chamberlin was a player-coach who still holds the NFL record for best winning percentage for a Head Coach. He boasted a 58-16-7 record which gave him a .759 winning percentage. That gave Chamberlain the record for the best percentage for any coach with at least 50 wins. Chamberlin is the only coach to win a title with three different teams. He would later be named to the 1920s All-Decade team.
The Great (or Not So Great) Depression signaled the end of the team. The Yellow Jackets had issues when their stadium caught fire that resulted in them having to play a game at Municipal Stadium and a game at Baker Bowl. After Chamberlin left, finances got so bad the owners were forced to move a lot of the veteran players. They had to bring in untested College players.
The result was a disaster with the team going on a ten-game losing streak and league Commissioner, Joe Carr mandating that Frankford would be a travel-only team. To show the quality of the league, the legendary Jim Thorpe was the main attraction.
I know, you are asking,” What does this have to do with my Philadelphia Eagles?” Former Yellow Jacket player, Lud Wray, eventually bought the franchise and that is how Eagles football was born.
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