June 24, 2019
One of the lesser known pieces of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh football history is that the two cities at one point shared a team.
Much like many other sports at the time, the NFL had to deal with shrinking rosters caused by military service during World War II. The Steelers were decimated by their player’s military efforts, being left with only 6 players remaining under contract. The Eagles fared a little better with 16 players under contract, but it was more of the same: both teams did not have the rosters to take the field as a whole. So the 1943 season, owners Art Rooney and Bert Bell decided to combine the two teams. Officially, they were named the “Phil-Pitt Combine” but that name didn't exactly roll off the tongue, so when Pittsburgh Press writer Chet Smith used the term "Steagles" in a column, the name stuck.
The team played their home games at Shibe Park that season. They finished 3rd in the Eastern conference that year with a record of 5-4-1, despite the fact that the two co-coaches, Greasy Neale of the Eagles, and Walt Kiesling of the Steelers, did not get along at all. The two teams promptly disbanded following the season, with the Eagles fielding a full squad for the 1944 season and beyond.
The Steelers, still needing another team to help them field a full team, decided to merge with the Chicago Cardinals to become “Card-Pitt”. That team fared poorly finishing 0-10 and received the nickname “Carpet” because of how badly the team struggled. The Steelers were able to field a complete team after the 1944 season and have ever since.