EARLE (GREASY) NEALE

EARLE (GREASY) NEALE

Class of 1969
Coach
(West Virginia Wesleyan)
1941-1950 Philadelphia Eagles

Alfred Earle Neale. . .Extensive college coaching career preceded entry into NFL in 1941. . .Quickly built second-division Eagles into a contender. . . Produced three straight Eastern Division crowns and NFL championships in 1948 and 1949. . . Both NFL titles came by shutout scores. . .Using an assumed name, played end with the pre-NFL Canton Bulldogs. . .Born November 5, 1891, in Parkersburg, West Virginia. . . Died November 2, 1973, at age of 81.

When the Philadelphia Eagles hired Earle “Greasy” Neale as their coach in 1941, the first thing he did was study the coaches’ game film of the Chicago Bears 73-0 title win over the Washington Redskins. After studying the film endlessly, Neale became the first coach to imitate, and some say, improve the Bears’ T-formation.

Although it took Neale awhile to pull together the needed talent to build a winning team, once he had the right ingredients, they stayed among the league’s best for nearly a decade.

In three years Greasy had the Eagles in second place and, three years later, he had them winning their first divisional crown. His offense was led by the passing of quarterback Tommy Thompson, the pass catching of future Hall of Fame end Pete Pihos, and the running of another Hall of Famer, Steve Van Buren.

Defensively, Neale developed the Eagle Defense, which was a mainstay around the league for years to come. The defensive set eventually spawned another National Football League favorite, the 4-3 defense, which is still featured by teams today.

From 1944 through 1949, Neale’s Eagles finished second three times and in first place three times. The Eagles won the NFL Championship in 1948 and again in 1949, and were the only team to win back-to-back titles by shutting out their opponents. They beat the Chicago Cardinals 7-0 and the Los Angeles Rams 14-0.

Long before he became a head coach in the NFL, Neale starred as an end on Jim Thorpe’s pre-World War I Canton Bulldogs. A successful college coach, he also led his Washington and Jefferson College squad to the 1922 Rose Bowl. And football wasn’t the only sport in which he excelled. He was an outfielder who batted .357 for the Cincinnati Reds in the infamous “Black Sox” World Series' of 1919.

Team
Year
W
L
T
PCT.
W
L
PCT.
W
L
T
PCT.
Philadelphia
1941
2
8
1
.227
Philadelphia
1942
2
9
0
.182
Philadelphia
1943
5
4
1
.550
Philadelphia
1944
7
1
2
.800
Philadelphia
1945
7
3
0
.700
Philadelphia
1946
6
5
0
.545
Philadelphia
1947
8
4
0
.667
1
1
.500
Philadelphia
1948
9
2
1
.792
1
0
1.000
Philadelphia
1949
11
1
0
.917
1
0
1.000
Philadelphia
1950
6
6
0
.500
Career Total
63
43
5
.590
3
1
.75
66
44
5
.596

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