Al Wistert, one of the greatest players in the history of the Philadelphia Eagles franchise, has died at the age of 95.
Wistert entered the NFL in 1943 with the Phil-Pitt Steagles, a combined team of Steelers and Eagles players who pooled their resources during World War II. In 1944 the teams separated, and Wistert played the remaining eight years of his career with the Eagles.
A tackle on both offense and defense, Wistert would frequently play all 60 minutes of a game, and he was named an All-Pro in eight consecutive seasons from 1944 to 1951. He was captain of the Eagles teams that won back-to-back NFL championships in 1948 and 1949, and he was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 1940s.
At 212 pounds, Wistert was one of the strongest players of his day, earning the nickname “The Ox.” But he was known even more as a team leader. After the Eagles beat the Steelers to win the Eastern Division in 1947, Wistert was quoted as saying it was the camaraderie in the locker room that made the Eagles a great team.
“Want to know where the game was won?” Wistert said. “It was won yesterday in Philadelphia, where every man gave a short speech, telling how he thought the game could be won. We knew right then that we wouldn’t be beaten.”
A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Wistert is one of three brothers who played at Michigan. After finishing his college career at Michigan, he was chosen as a captain of the College All-Star team that beat the NFL champions. When the Eagles drafted him in 1943, his salary of $4,500 is reported to have angered some of his veteran teammates, who were playing for much less.
Wistert’s number 70 has been retired by the Eagles, and he’s frequently named among the greatest players not to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.