Monday, March 7, 2016

To Absent Friends - Al Wistert

Al Wistert

Former Philadelphia Eagles lineman Al Wistert died yesterday at the age of 95.  I am sure that older Eagles fans throughout the eastern half of Pennsylvania are mourning the loss of this gentleman, but his passing is being noted in The Grandstander due to the fact that Wistert was the last surviving member of the NFL's 1943 wartime combination/merged team of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles.  Known in the Official NFL record books as simply "Phil-Pitt", they were more commonly known then and are remembered now - if they are remembered at all - as the "Steagles".  Amazingly, for all its avariciousness, the National Football League has never trademarked or licensed the name "Steagles", so this historical footnote of an NFL franchise is not officially recognized by the name for which it is known.

For more on this team, I refer you to a terrific book by Matthew Algeo called "Last Team Standing".  I wrote about it in depth when I first read it back in 2011:

The New York Times obituary for Wistert told a great story about what happened following the 1949 NFL Championship game:

When the Eagles defeated the Rams in the 1949 N.F.L. championship game, the team’s management threw a victory banquet at the Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles. But the players’ rewards did not include championship rings.
As Wistert told it in Gordon Forbes’s “Tales From the Eagles Sidelines” (2002): “They gave us these Zippo cigarette lighters. They didn’t even have our names on them or anything else about the championship. I left mine at the table.”

RIP Al Wistert, the Last of the Steagles.

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