In 1943, where were all the able bodied men?  You guessed it.  After the United States entered the Second World War on December 7, 1941, most young men who were of the age to play professional football were also the age to fight for their country.  600 NFL players joined the armed forces.

On June 19, 1943, the National Football League’s (NFL) Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers agreed to a temporary merger for the 1943 season due to a lack of players.  The official record books refer to the Phil-Pitt Combine”; however in popular culture, unofficially the Steagles.  The temporary merger lasted until December 5, 1943.

The Steagles 1943 season was the Philadelphia franchise’s first winning season in its history and the second for Pittsburgh’s

1943 Steagles starting line-up Back row (left to right): unknown, back (#11); Ben Kish, back (#44); Ernie Steele, halfback (#37) Middle row: Roy Zimmerman, quarterback (#7) Front row (left to right): Larry Cabrelli, end (#84); Bucko Kilroy, tackle (#76); Ed Michaels, guard (#60); Ray Graves, center (#52); Elbie Schultz, guard (#71); Vic Sears, tackle (#79); Bob Masters, end (#31)

1943 Steagles starting line-up Back row (left to right): unknown, back (#11); Ben Kish, back (#44); Ernie Steele, halfback (#37) Middle row: Roy Zimmerman, quarterback (#7) Front row (left to right): Larry Cabrelli, end (#84); Bucko Kilroy, tackle (#76); Ed Michaels, guard (#60); Ray Graves, center (#52); Elbie Schultz, guard (#71); Vic Sears, tackle (#79); Bob Masters, end (#31)

Pittsburgh-Philadelphia "Steagles" vs. New York Giants at Shibe Park October 9, 1943

Pittsburgh-Philadelphia “Steagles” vs. New York Giants at Shibe Park October 9, 1943

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3 responses

  1. The war effected every day American life in so many ways. I love the ingenuity they showed in dealing with these things!

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  2. Birgit says:

    I didn’t know that happened but totally makes sense given the war. You are right, it reminded me of that movie, “A League of their Own” right away.

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