It’s looking right now that the Eagles might honestly not win another game this year. If that is in fact the case, they will end the season with 12 straight losses. That would bring them close to the team record, and it would set a record for most consecutive losses in one season.
1936 was the first year that the NFL had a draft, which was done on the insistence of Eagles owner and coach Bert Bell (left), whose team had gone 2-9 the year before. Bell not only made the first selection of the draft as owner of the Eagles, he acted as emcee for the evening, as the draft was held at the Ritz Carlton in Philadelphia!
With their first pick, the Eagles selected the first ever winner of the Heisman Trophy, Jay Berwanger. (Incidentally, with the 3rd pick of the draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected a player named William Shakespeare, who had possibly the greatest nickname in NFL history: “The Merchant of Menace”). But the Eagles couldn’t meet Berwanger’s money demands, and he was traded to the Bears (he never signed with them either). Much like the Eagles now, whose inability to sign even moderately effective offensive lineman has cost them the season, in 1936 their inability to sign a player of Berwanger’s ability hurt them greatly, both on the field and at the box office.
The season started promisingly enough, with a 10-7 win over the New York Giants at Municipal Stadium (below right). Then things went downhill, and fast. In their next 5 games, they were outscored 101-3. Finally, in week 7, they scored their second TD of the season, but still lost to the Boston Redskins, 17-7. The next week, they cracked double digits again, again versus the Giants, but lost a shootout 21-17. They then went on to score a total of 2 TDs for the rest of the season to finish 1-11, with 11 straight losses. They were outscored that season 206-51, with over half of their points coming in two games against the Giants.
Their stats for the 1936 season are absolutely hilarious. They had 8 different players throw at least one pass that season. These QBs combined to complete 22.9% of their passes for 603 yards, with 3 Touchdowns and 36 interceptions. The Eagles completed 39 passes that year, and threw 36 interceptions. Not a good year for the likes of Swede Hanson, Stumpy Thomason, and Reds Bassman. The leading receiver on that team was Eggs Manske with 325 yards. Hanson led the team in rushing.
1937 started out no better. They lost their first 3 games, then broke their losing streak at 14 with a thrilling 6-6 tie against the Chicago Cardinals. They would lose the next week, then finally go into Washington, where the Redskins were playing their first season after moving from Boston, and win 14-0. They would finish the 1937 season 2-8-1.
Their first decade as a franchise (1933-1942) has to be some sort of record for futility. They went 23-82-4 (23.8%). The 14 game losing streak was no apparition. Let’s hope the Eagles current losing streak is just a sign of a bad season, not of a franchise heading backwards to 1930s levels of ineptitude. And let’s hope we can sign this year’s first round draft pick. (Special thanks to Reuben Frank who told me on twitter what the longest losing streak in Eagles history was.)
It’s almost here! Our second annual real time World Series**, where I’ll be reporting on the Series as it happens, 83 years to the day after it happened the first time. I’ll get exclusive photos, find interviews with the principles, write it all in present tense as if I’m covering it, and we’ll “watch” the games in real time. Oh, and for this series we’ve actually got some video! Going to be a ton of fun. I’ll start introducing you to the teams, their managers, and star players next week. But a brief background on the two teams:
The Cubs were led by Philly-born manager Joe McCarthy, who grew up idolizing Connie Mack. He would become better known as manager of the Yankees in the 1930s and 40s. The Cubs had run away with the pennant that year, going 98-54 and winning the NL by 10.5 games over Pittsburgh.
The A’s were led, of course, by Connie Mack, and had absolutely throttled the AL that year, never leading the League by less than 7 games after June 10th. The Yankees, with essentially the same lineup as the 1927 Murderer’s Row, finished the season 18 games behind the A’s. An excellent Sports Illustrated piece in 1996 called the The Team that Time Forgot, and they are undoubtedly one of the greatest baseball team’s in Major League history. Tom Verducci has them ranked 4th all time.
So get ready to step into the time machine next week. We’re going to have a lot of fun with this.
**To check out our coverage of the 1911 World Series we did last October, click here.