Philadelphia had the best and worst football field in the country. Fortunately, the bad one is no longer with us.
Franklin Field-Built in 1909, this remains an architectural gem. This place naturally does not have any of what we expect from modern stadiums. All seats are backless and most without protection from the elements. The wind from the Schuylkill River can be uncomfortable. For sheer viewing, however, I have never seen any place better. The seats are sharply inclined, with no obstruction, and close to field. Philadelphia author Lisa Scottoline mentions super-fit joggers climbing these steps. When the Philadelphia Eagles moved here in 1958, their attendance almost doubled. Parking was also much easier.
Before 1958, the Eagles shared Connie Mack Stadium with the Philadelphia Phillies. CMS had a typical baseball layout with a maximum capacity of only 40,000. It seemed like poles were all over the place obstructing the view. Groundskeepers had to plant turf in the infield portion. By midseason, one fan remarked that it looked as if a cattle stampede had overrun it. So long as a fan was not behind a pole, it was fine for baseball but not football. Parking around Connie Mack Stadium was almost impossible.
The Eagles played at Franklin Field with 1970 being the last year. It is a great place. Today it hosts the Penn Relays and Penn Quakers football.
Municipal Stadium later John F. Kennedy Stadium-The city built this stadium for the Sesquicentennial in 1926. Whoever built it must have been out to lunch.
The seats are way too far from the field and not inclined well. This is the only place where fans don’t get a good view even from the 50 yard line. Wind comes roaring in from the Delaware and Schuylkill. The annual Army Navy Game was here and once drew at least 100,000 people. When the attendance fell off in the mid seventies, the game went to Veterans Stadium.
At intervals the Navy-Notre Dame game was at JFK Stadium. It was also the scene of the Liberty Bowl from 1959 to 1963. More on this later. The city mercifully tore this eyesore down in the late 90s.
For younger people and veterans who want to remember, here is the original look at the NBA and the playoff system, which was not really logical. Each team played 72 games for a total of 288 games the entire season.
New York Knickerbockers
Philadelphia Warriors-now the Golden State Warriors
Syracuse Nationals-now the Philadelphia 76ers.
Fort Wayne Pistons-now the Detroit Pistons
Minneapolis Lakers-now the Los Angeles Lakers
Rochester Royals-this team became the Cincinnati Royals, the Kansas City Kings, and now from Sacramento.
St. Louis Hawks-now the Atlanta Hawks
Playoff Systems-All the regular season did was eliminate the last place team in each division
First Set-the second and third place teams in each division played a best of three series. I assume the first two were in the city of the second place team.
Second Set-The first place team in each division played a best of five series with the above winners. I assume the first two were in the city of the first place team.
Final-The winners of second sets in each division played a best of seven series.
Simpler time but a complicated playoff series.
Punters Who Did Other Things
Bob Lee-Minnesota Vikings and Atlanta Falcons
Dan Pastorini-Houston Oilers
Danny White-Dallas Cowboys
King Hill-St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles
Norman Van Brocklin-Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles
THE RUNNING BACKS
Donnie Anderson-Green Bay Packers
Joe Don Looney-Detriot Lions, New York Giants, Baltimore Colts, and Washington Redskins
Boyd Dowler-Green Bay Packers
Jackie Smith-St. Louis Cardinals
Max McGee-Green Bay Packers
THE DEFENSIVE BACKS
Yale Lary-Detriot Lions
Bert Rechichar-Baltimore Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers
Don Chandler-New York Giants and Green Bay Packers
Fred Cox for one year with the Minnesota Vikings
Bert Rechichar-Baltimore Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers
Sam Baker-Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, and Philadelphia Eagles
Tommy Davis-San Francisco 49ers
Earlier I mentioned the first two reasons for the Passion of the Eagle fans:
–the absence of a dynasty in the television era, and
–only one winning season from 1962 to 1977, a period of great expansion and increased exposure on television for the NFL.
I hinted earlier at the third reason when talking about the decline in importance of the Army-Navy Game. Though greater in this respect than New York City, Philadelphia does not have a rich college football tradition. Other cities such as Boston, Cleveland, Houston, Miami, and Phoenix, have big name college teams in or very near their cities. Consider this
Pennsylvania has one colossal college football player, Chuck Bednarick, in the pros. Bednarick to me was the greatest all time Eagle.
Villanova has four-Brian Westbrook, Howie Long, Al Atkinson, and Mike Siani.
Temple is a work in progress of becoming a big college football school. Minus any research, the only big names I can remember are Randy Grossman and Joe Kleko. Maurice Johnson also played a short time for the Eagles.
Stemming from their play in the Fiesta Bowl, Penn State has a bigger following here in Phoenix than in Philadelphia. Fans in Philadelphia channel almost all of their football interest into the professional game. This is another reason for the Passion of the Eagle fans.
Both of these games were at Veterans Stadium.
Brian Dawkins set a record against the Houston Texans. He became the first person to do the following in one game:
–caught a 57 yard touchdown pass on a fake punt;
–returned a pass interception 27 yards;
–sacked the quarterback and;
–recovered a fumble.
The Eagles beat the Texans 35 to 17.
In 2002, Philadelphia also defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Eagles got six sacks for 29 yards. Duce Staley gained 152 yards on 24 carries. With four minutes left in the game, Tampa Bay trailed 20 to 10. Bucs kicker Martin Gramatia attempted a field goal from 28 yards. He missed badly. Donovan McNabb handed off to Duce Staley, who ran 60 yards. This settled the 20 to 10 victory. Too bad the Eagles couldn’t duplicate this effort vs Tampa in the NFC Title Game.
The difference between these two stations over the past 30 to 40 years tells what’s true of most Americans metropolitan areas. All sections of a city don’t move forward. When one area improves another goes downhill.
In the 70’s and early 80s, Suburban Station, the underground portion of both SEPTA and Amtrak, was busy almost 24/7. People could walk all the way to 13th and Market or South to Broad and Locust. The Grog Shop, a restaurant with dancing, was open until 2am. Schrafft’s Restaurant was open beginning at lunch and closed at 9:00. An ice staking rink was a downsized version of the one in Rockefeller Center. People came in from all over the Tri-State Area to bowl at the Penn Center. There was a barber shop bordering on the now demolished Sheraton Hotel. A book store and a cocktail lounge kept commuters occupied while they waited for trains.
30th Station was busy but underutilized. Amtrak walled off almost a third of the station. There was one bar, a fast food chain, and three or four small shops. After 6:30, the crowd thinned out. By 8, there were only inter-city travelers. Especially on weekends, 30th Street had that echo indicating not many people. I felt Philadelphia, unlike New York, was wasting a valuable resource.
So now things have reversed. Suburban Station, at least when I last saw it, had only commuter traffic and nothing else. All the shops and entertainment areas are gone. 30th Street has reached its full potential. The entire building is open and occupied. There are restaurants and shops throughout the station. The place stays busy until midnight. Now I hope the Philadelphia takes a steps in redevelopment of the Market Street West area.
Any updates greatly appreciated. Deja vu. It seems like one business thrives at the expense of another.
1994 began with great hope and the fizzled to a below .500 ending. After nine games, the Philadelphia Eagles were 7-2; then they lost seven in a row. Randall Cunningham seemed to fall off suddenly. Rick Kotite replaced him with Bubby Brister for the final two games. Cunningham’s second half performance in 1994 makes me question if he should be among the top ten Eagles in history. There were no big injuries which makes this nose dive even more puzzling. The Front Office fired Kotite after the season.
There was one record that Hershel Walker set. He became the first player have 90+ yards on three plays in one season. The Eagles lost all three games. Walker
–caught a 93 yard pass from Randall Cunningham against the New York Giants; Eagles lost 28 to 23. He did not score a touchdown on this play.
–took a hand off from Randall Cunningham and went 91 yards for a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons; Eagles lost 28 to 21. This broke Wilbert Montgomery’s record of 90 yards as the longest run in Philadelphia history. Wilbert’s run was also for a touchdown in a 35 to 14 victory in 1982 at Veterans Stadium.
–in the final game of the season, returned a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown vs. the Cincinnati; Eagles lost 33 to 30.
The season’s best game was the 40 to 8 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. SF did not look like a Super Bowl team but wound up winning it.
After a BYE week, the 2-1 Eagles went to San Francisco, a 3-1 team.
Randall Cunningham completed 20 of 29 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns. Charlie Garner carried 16 times for 111 yards and two touchdowns. Turnrovers and sacks were big. The Eagles recorded three sacks for 22 yards in losses and three turnovers. The 49ers went blank in both categories. Philadelphia 40 San Francisco 8.