Inside one unique Philadelphia Eagles Thanksgiving Day history

Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

November 23rd, 1939: Philadelphia Eagles 17 Pittsburgh Pirates 14

Pennsylvania is home to two of the most consistent franchises of the new millennium: the Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers can trace that trait back even longer. That wasn’t always the case, however. Way back in 1939, when both franchises were only seven years old and the Steelers shared a name with the city’s baseball team, the two teams were horrible.

The NFC East is bad now, but in 1939, these two teams sat it at the bottom of the Eastern Division with the Eagles at 0-7-1 and the Steelers at 0-8-1 when Thanksgiving rolled around. The Eagles did have some star power at the very least. Davey O’Brien was the quarterback of the Eagles and the first real star of the franchise. O’Brien would lead the NFL in passing yards in 1939 with 1,324 despite the Eagles’ futility. At 5’7″ and 151 pounds, the pint-sized passer was the Heisman trophy winner in 1938, and a first-team All-Pro in 1939.

The Eagles would go on to win the game 17-14 with O’Brien tossing a 65-yard touchdown to Joe Carter in the second quarter. It was the Eagles’ first and only win of 1939, with the Pirates getting their only win of the season three days later against the same Eagles. Suffice to say, pro football was a different game in 1939.