Philadelphia Eagles: The 1960 NFL Champions
Written By: Lisa Hann
It’s no longer at the corner of 62 Street and Walnut, but Bill Barnes will never forget Donahue’s.
“We were very, very close,” Barnes says. “We stuck together on and off the field.”
It was that closeness that helped the Eagles win their first NFL Championship in 1960 at Franklin Field, which is no longer there either.
But Birds fans for years to come can remember that winning season at Franklin. The 1960 Eagles were inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame in April.
The team was the underdog who earned its fame with heart. After four losing seasons and then a 7-5 record in 1959, the Eagles turned things around in 1960. Despite being ranked 10 out of 12 in defense that year, they made six fourth-quarter comebacks.
The championship was no surprise to the players, though.
“We knew we could win,” Barnes says.
They wouldn’t have played if they thought they would lose.
“It doesn’t always happen, but you always expect it,” says Chuck Weber, former linebacker for the Eagles. “It was just one of those years.”
That year the Eagles had a 10-2 record, with nine straight wins and a final 17-13 victory over the Green Bay Packers in the Championship game on December 26.
“Everything seemed to click,” Weber says. “We really came together as a team.”
Weber led the league for linebackers in interceptions that year. He is a Philadelphia native, but previously won the championship while with the Cleveland Browns.
“It felt real good to bring (the championship) back home,” he says.
Marion Campbell, former defensive lineman for the Eagles, says, “There’s a special place in my heart for Philadelphia. I’ll always be an Eagle. I loved that place Franklin Field. It was the best professional stop of my career.”
Campbell says he is still friends with many of the players and sees them once in a while. He remembers how close they were instantly, and says, “We could see (the win) building during preseason.”
Chuck Bednarik, former Eagles center and linebacker, agrees that the camaraderie of the players was “automatic.” After winning, the players “went out and got a little inebriated. Of course when you win you celebrate,” he says.
The last play of the championship game is infamous for Bednarik.
With only seconds to go, he tackled Packer Jim Taylor and sat on him at the nine-yard line until time ran out and the Eagles won.
“I have a nine by 12 photograph, framed, hanging on my wall of it,” he says.
They had been trailing in that game, too, until running back Ted Dean scored a touchdown with five minutes and 20 seconds left.
The 1960 Eagles are the only team that ever beat the Packers under coach Vince Lombardi in post-season.
After the win, defensive line Campbell remembers, “I jumped off the ground about as high as I could get. Then they had dinner for us. It was nice.”
In 1961, the Eagles just missed going to the championship game. Campbell says, “We just didn’t have the same continuity as players (from 1960) left. We were so close and had been together for a while.”
The players remember quarterback Norm Van Brocklin, now deceased, as an asset to the winning team.
“What a great leader,” Campbell says of Van Brocklin. “He had great vision. A damn thing about him was how he adjusted to the game.”
Head Coach Buck Shaw also helped the Eagles to victory. “He was a fine head coach,” says former linebacker Weber. “I learned a lot from him.”
Former running back Barnes, a North Carolina native with a thick Southern accent, has some thoughtful words for Philadelphians who visit the Sports Hall of Fame.
“Philadelphia was the first big city I ever went to,” he says. “I fell in love with the city and the people.”
He has “nothing but fond memories” of 1960.
Even though Donahue’s and Franklin Field are gone now, the Championship Eagles are immortal in the Hall of Fame and hearts of fans.
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