Since we started this Alumni series we have mostly featured past players. This week we take a look at the Eagles first championship winning coach Earle Neale. Most hardcore Eagles fans who know of Neale refer to him as Greasy, his long time nickname.
Greasy Neale coached the Eagles for 10 years (1941-1950). At the end of the 1950 season he finished his coaching career with 63 wins 43 losses & 5 ties. After their start up season in 1933 this was really the first taste of success the city had in regards to professional football. Neale’s regular season winning percentage was .590. Andy Reid would eventually pass Neale decades later. Neale really shined in the playoffs as he led the Eagles to two NFL Titles in 1948-49. His overall playoff numbers were 3-1 with a .750 winning percentage.
It’s fair to point out Neale had some outstanding players on this team including two future Hall of Famers at key positions. Quarterback Tommy Thompson who we featured earlier was responsible for the getting ball to HOF’s Steve Van Buren (RB) and Pete Pihos. Greasy Neale was the first coach to feature the 4-3 defense. This defense would eventually become the mainstay of the NFL for years. Every team started running the 4-3 as their base defense.
Before Neale landed with the Eagles he played professionally on Jim Thorpe’s Canton Bulldogs team. Neale was a successful college coach. He led the Washington and Jefferson College to the 1922 Rose Bowl. Greasy Neale was a standout in other sports besides football. He was actually an outfielder on the Cincinnati Red’s and played in the 1919 World Series. This series was well known for the infamous Black Sox betting scandal. Greasy Neale was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1969.
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