The Philadelphia Eagles have been around for so long it’s hard to imagine that they were once an NFL expansion team, created in 1933 from what were the ashes of the Frankford Yellow Jackets. Bert Bell and Lud Wray purchased the NFL rights to the Philadelphia area and were awarded the assets of the Frankford team. Ultimately only one player from the 1931 Yellow Jackets team ended up on the 1933 Eagles squad, Art Koeninger.
The name “Eagles,” evokes the team’s working class roots, having been inspired by the symbol of the blue eagle used to promote President Franklin Roosevelt’s depression era National Recovery Act, and the first Eagles team continued to use the light blue and yellow colors of their Frankford forbearers. These newly hatched Birds held their training camp in Atlantic City, NJ and would play all their home games at the Baker Bowl in North Philadelphia in 1933. Their official 1933 league record of 3-5-1, however, doesn’t take into account every game they played that year. The very first game played by the newly branded Philadelphia Eagles, resulting in their first victory as well, was an exhibition game played against none other than those Clifton Wessingtons (Who?) at Wessington Stadium (Where?) in Clifton, NJ, on September 17, 1933. The Eagles beat the Wessingtons 6-0. In fact, the Eagles opened their season with six wins and one loss in exhibition games against non-league opponents, chalking up additional victories over the likes of the Bridgeport Pros, the Orange Tornadoes, the Paterson Night Hawks, the United States Marines (3rd Battalion, 19th Regiment), and the Frankford Legion, and suffered their first loss against the Staten Island Stapletons.
All this before their first official league game on October 15, 1933 against the New York Giants which sadly resulted in their first loss in the NFL, and their second loss of the season, on the wrong side of a 56-0 tally. All told they played eight “non-league” games in 1933. Though they finished their official NFL season in 4th place, behind the New York Giants, Brooklyn Dodgers and Boston Redskins (I know, sounds like an alternative universe), they did manage to stay out of the cellar of the Eastern Division. That honor fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Yup, I said Pirates.
You can check out the standings and statistics at www.profootballarchives.com.