Eagles great Al Wistert dies at 95

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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.

14 responses to “Eagles great Al Wistert dies at 95

  1. With all of his accolades, how come this man never made it to the HOF?? That is a travesty!! It’s time to put him in albeit late. RIP Al!!

  2. Agreed. He should have been elected to the HoF years ago. First team all pro six times, played long enough into the pro bowl era to make one of these squads late in his career, member of the 40s all decade team. Utterly shameful that the HoF dawdled so long on his candidacy.

  3. He was a tackle on both sides of the ball at 212 lbs? My oh my, how the game has changed! RIP Al Wistert.

  4. My Dad knew the Wisterts at University of Michigan … They were part of (arguably) the greatest era of Michigan football…Tom Harmon, Forest Eveshevske, that whole All-Time Great roster…so sorry to learn of his passing…my sincerest condolences to all

  5. I love these old guys who played for the love of the game. That is not to say that $4500 in 1943 wasn’t a ton of money in that day. I remember my Dad telling me that he was earning $0.43 cents per hour during the war working in a foundry.

    I feel sorry for today’s kids who learned the game via Madden versus going out, lacing ’em up, and, getting the crap kicked out of them on field.

  6. “…he’s frequently named among the greatest players not to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.” Guys like this have made it possible for morons like Roger Goodell to make millions, but he is not in the HOF? That’s a larger pile of crap than DeflateGate.

  7. Amazing how this game has changed over the decades in sheer size ans speed alone. He played both ways as an OT and DT at 212 pounds and his nickname was “The Ox”.

    In today’s game he would be considered the skinny QB that needs to put on 20 pounds to withstand the beatings he will endure. Read an article a few years ago that claimed that as near as 1980 there were less than 15 guys on ALL NFL rosters that weighed over 300 pounds. By 2010 there close to 300 that weighed 300 pounds or more and faster than ever.

    The impact that these guys can bring to bare now is immense compared to the NFL decades ago. That is where the main problem lies with head injuries we are going past the point that the impacts caused by the speed/mass ratios of two oncoming players is beyond what our skulls/brains are equipped to handle.

    The game of football isn’t the problem it is that we are developing such huge , fast, finely tuned seek and destroy missiles so quickly that the natural evolution of our skulls and brains to resist those tremendous impacts can’t catch up nearly fast enough.

  8. SMH. Even the greatest generation had it share of bitches. “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.”
    This goes to the knuckleheads begrudging Dungy’s HOF induction. Anyone who wastes their time worrying about someone else’s accomplishments is a waste of time.

  9. I probably saw him play several times. As a 10-12 year old kid I went to several games at Shibe Park in the early 1950’s. In those day we went to see Steve Van Buren, Chuck Bednarik, Adrian Burk and Pete Pihos. I can remember watching Otto Graham of the Cleveland Browns who dominated the NFL in those early years.

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