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A TEAM OF TWO CITIES
Elizabeth McGarr
August 23, 2007
IT WAS 1943, AND FOR THE WAR-RAVAGED NFL IT WAS THE YEAR OF THE STEAGLE
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August 23, 2007

A Team Of Two Cities

IT WAS 1943, AND FOR THE WAR-RAVAGED NFL IT WAS THE YEAR OF THE STEAGLE

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"It was a family affair," Graves recalls. His wife, Opal, was able to make friends with the other wives, while his daughter, Becky, helped run the elevator.

On the field the team had mixed success. Despite setting a record that still stands today for the most fumbles committed in one game (10, in a 28-14 October win over the Giants), the team took back-to-back games from Detroit and Washington at the end of November and was 5-3-1 with one game remaining—one win away from qualifying for a playoff with Washington and New York for the Eastern Division championship. Not bad, given that the Eagles had won just five games over the previous three seasons (while the Steelers had won 10). Alas, a 38-28 loss to the Packers on Dec. 5 meant the end of the season. It turned out to be the end of the Steagles as well.

For the 1944 season the Steelers chose another merger—with the Chicago Cardinals—while the Eagles decided to go it alone. The decision was a good one, as Philadelphia was 7-1-2 that year, the franchise's best record to date. The Card-Pitts, on the other hand, went 0-10.

In 2003 Graves and Wistert were among eight former players who represented the briefly united Pennsylvania team during halftime of a Steelers-Eagles preseason game.

"Most of us didn't get to serve our country," says Graves of his Steagles teammates. "But we feel like we did make our contribution to the life of pro football."

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