September 11, 2011
The Rams and the Eagles have played 38 times, with the Rams holding a 19-18-1 lead. They’ve met 3 times in the postseason. We’ve already written about the last two games…an NFC championship game loss in 2001 and a wild card playoff loss in 1989. Today we’ll take you back a bit further, to 1949. The Eagles were looking to become the first Philly pro sports team to repeat since the 1929-30 A’s. The following comes from an excellent 2002 story by Frank Fitzpatrick in the Inky.
Sunday Dec. 18, 1949, was a gloomy day in Los Angeles. A relentless rain – 1.05 inches by 4 p.m. – drenched the city. Much of it appeared to have accumulated on the Coliseum’s playing field and in its vast grandstands.
Thirty minutes before the NFL’s 17th championship game, a cluster of Eagles, still groggy from the long train journey west, gathered in a tunnel to scan the conditions. One of them decided to count the fans. It didn’t take long. There were 176.
This was depressing. The Eagles had been working toward this payday throughout their 11-1 regular season. Even though they were the defending league champions, most of Philadelphia’s players earned less than $10,000. They had hoped a large crowd in this 101,000-seat stadium, where the Rams averaged 51,555 a game in 1949, would net them an extra
three or four grand.
Now, win or lose, that lengthy train trip back to Philadelphia was going to be miserable. They probably wouldn’t earn enough to pay for four days’ worth of beer and steaks in the club car…Eventually, 22,245 fans emerged from the 17-year-old stadium’s tunnels to witness the first major professional championship contested in L.A. Coaches huddled beneath golf and beach umbrellas. The swamplike field made passing impossible. The run-oriented Eagles, with Steve Van Buren (above, left) gaining 196 yards, beat the pass-happy Rams, 14-0, in what one L.A. sportswriter termed “a rather sluggish exhibition of the pro brand of football.”
The year before, the Eagles had played a championship game in Shibe Park in a driving blizzard, knocking off the Chicago Cardinals, 7-0. They are still the last team to win back to back championships in shutouts.