The Philadelphia Eagles Won Their First Championship In A Blizzard So Bad Yard Lines Weren't Visible

Mother nature is a force to be reckoned with. This is a lesson the NFL has learned the hard way. USA Today reports that several games have been played under a curtain of falling snow throughout the NFL's history. For example, during a December 2017 game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Buffalo Bills, up to 9 inches fell on the field. In December 2013 (via ESPN), 6 inches of snow fell while the Philadelphia Eagles went up against the Detroit Lions. This, however, was not the first time the Eagles played during undesirable weather conditions. 

On December 19, 1948, PhillyBurbs writes that the Eagles played a championship game against the Chicago Cardinals in a snowstorm. History states that the game took place at Philadelphia's Shibe Park. More than a foot of snow had fallen in Philadelphia that day (per the Philadelphia Eagles). Likewise, the weather was so bad that 5 inches of snow were on the field tarp before the game started, according to the Professional Football Researchers Association.

As a result, fans and football players did not believe the game would go on. However, the Eagles were still reeling from losing to the Cardinals in a 1947 game. Simply put, there was too much at stake, and as NFL commissioner and Eagles owner Bert Bell put it (via the Philadelphia Eagles), snow or not, "It's football."

Clearing the field was a group effort

Per History, the 1948 championship game between the Eagles and the Cardinals aptly earned the nickname the "Blizard Bowl." With the snow piled on, the NFL reports that officials told fans that they could attend the game for free if they shoveled snow. Nevertheless, the Professional Football Researchers Association adds that the game was delayed for 30 minutes because the park's crew could not get the heavy snow-filled tarp off the field. Thus, Bleacher Report writes that the staff asked players from the Eagles and the Cardinals to help get the tarp off. There was also another problem — the yard lines were unseeable due to the heavy snow.

The crew used rope to mark the lines. Despite this and the 27-degree bitter cold, the game went on. About 36,000 fans bought tickets, but just under 29,000 were in attendance (via the Professional Football Researchers Association). Others watched at home. As explained by PhillyBurbs, the game was the first televised NFL championship.

According to the Philadelphia Eagles, the first three-quarters of the game were unremarkable, as neither team scored. However, Steve Van Buren scored the first and only touchdown in the fourth quarter. The New York Times states that the Eagles won 7-0. They got their revenge against the Cardinals and secured their first championship. Interestingly, Van Buren almost missed out on the game.

Steve Van Buren didn't think the game would happen

According to PhillyBurbs, Steve Van Buren (seen above as No.15) was confident that officials would cancel the championship game due to the snowstorm. He decided to sleep in, but Eagles coach Earle Neale (also known as "Greasy") called and woke him. Neale informed Van Buren that he needed to get to Shibe Park. Van Buren later said (via Philadelphia Eagles), "I thought Greasy was crazy." He added, "I said, 'We can't play in this.' He said, 'I just talked to [Bert] Bell. We're playing.'" Van Buren, however, could not get his car out of the driveway due to the heavy snowfall and had to use public transportation to get to the stadium.

History states that he took a bus, trolley, and subway. In addition, Van Buren had to walk six blocks in the snow and was almost late for the game. He explained (via PhillyBurbs), "I got there just a couple of minutes before the kickoff." Nevertheless, the Philadelphia Eagles writes that Van Buren became a football hero and legend that day. After the victory, he stated (via Philadelphia Eagles), "The feeling in the locker room was tremendous. Even old Greasy was choked up." The Pro Football Hall of Fame now owns the football used in the 1948 game. They note that Van Buren also had to take public transportation to get home.