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On This Day: The Yellow Jackets become the Eagles



Ninety years ago today, July 9, 1933, the Frankford Yellow Jackets were sold to Bert Bell and his partners and joined the NFL. The struggling franchise had gone under in 1931, weighed down by seven years of poor play and ineptitude at the box office.


In stepped Bert Bell. The son of famed attorney John C. Bell had been cut off from his family fortune after years of drinking, frivolous spending and accruing gambling debts. As a result, he couldn't rely on his father's money to buy the local football team but instead was forced to look toward his future wife for a loan.



Frances Upton had earned her money, having won over numerous Broadway audiences with her sense of humor as a comedic actress. Upon meeting Bert in 1932, she gave him an ultimatum: alcohol or her. As legend has it, he never took another sip for the rest of his life.


Having cleaned up his ways, Upton loaned Bell the $2,500 that he and his partners needed to purchase the woebegone Frankford Yellow Jackets. The rest is history. In short order, the Yellow Jackets joined the NFL and became the Philadelphia Eagles, named after the National Recovery Administration's symbol.


In many ways, it was a symbol of the newly-minted franchise. Like America in the throes of the Great Depression, once they were bleeding money, desperately searching for the light at the end of the long, dark tunnel of insolvency. But like America, they would soon soar like an eagle, establishing residency in the upper echelon of society.

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