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Remembering the "Steagles," Pennsylvania's wartime NFL team

CBS News Live
CBS News Pittsburgh Live

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - These days, the Pittsburgh Steelers are an NFL powerhouse. The Philadelphia Eagles, meanwhile, won their first Super Bowl in 2018.

As the old saying goes, however, desperate times call for desperate measures.

The NFL was teetering in 1943, facing a player shortage due to the ongoing conflicts around the globe. The Cleveland Rams were even granted permission to suspend operations for the season.

The league pressed on, playing with only eight clubs, its lowest amount since the 1932 season.

One of those teams now lives on in NFL lore. Officially recognized as "Phil-Pitt Combine" according to NFL record books, the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers merged together to create the "Steagles" during the 1943 season. The merger was officially announced on this day in 1943.

The teams split their home games between Shibe Park in Philadelphia and Forbes Field here in Pittsburgh. They finished with a 5-4-1 record, good for third place in the NFL's Eastern Division. The club did not qualify for postseason play.

By the 1944 season, the NFL had rebounded, the U.S. Army had enough capable men to serve abroad, and both teams went their separate ways.

The Steelers would then merge with the Chicago Cardinals during the 1944 campaign before resuming normal operations by 1945.

The team now serves as a reminder of how far the NFL has come since the wartime days, and how even global conflicts such as World War II forced professional sports leagues to get creative with the resources they had at their disposal.

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