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1960 Title Team Left Lasting Legacy


The 1960 NFL Championship Team is the only one of the three in franchise history that is not fully inducted into the Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Fame. The 1948 and '49 teams, led by Steve Van Buren, were enshrined in 1999.

That certainly doesn't mean the squad that handed Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Vince Lombardi his only playoff loss is lacking representation. Far from it. And on Tuesday, the Eagles announced that another member of the 1960 team will join the legendary group.

It was announced on Tuesday that linebacker Maxie Baughan will become the eighth member of the 1960 NFL Championship team to go into the Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Fame. Baughan and running back Brian Westbrook comprise the Class of 2015 that will be celebrated during the Monday night game against the New York Giants on October 19. Baughan joins fellow linebacker Chuck Bednarik, cornerback Tom Brookshier, running back Timmy Brown, backup quarterback Sonny Jurgensen, wide receiver Tommy McDonald, tight end Pete Retzlaff and quarterback Norm Van Brocklin.

A rookie on the championship team 55 years ago, Baughan started every game that season after being selected in the second round of the NFL Draft. However, Baughan was the top pick to sign with the team as first-round selection Ron Burton joined the AFL's Boston Patriots instead.

Baughan joined a team that included some all-time great players, but this 1960 crew wasn't a juggernaut by any stretch of the imagination. Bednarik, hailed as the last of the 60-minute men, was the team's oldest player at 35 years of age. A majority of the starters were journeymen who helped make up a patchwork unit. Who was the leading rusher on the 1960 team? A fullback named Clarence Peaks. He broke his leg and didn't play the second half of the season.

The 1960 season almost ended as quickly as it began. The Eagles got smacked by the Cleveland Browns 41-24 in the opener at home. The following week in Dallas, the Eagles almost lost to an expansion Cowboys team, but squeaked by with a 27-25 victory. That win was the first of nine in a row for a team that proved to be in the right place at the right time for Philadelphia.

By looking at the stats, one could surmise that this Eagles team was a .500 or worse ballclub. They trailed six times going into the fourth quarter. They were outgained in every contest except for two, including the NFL Championship Game. The defense was ninth in the league (sounds good by today's standards, but there were just 12 teams) in both points and yards allowed. However, the Eagles led the league with 45 takeaways.

With a flair for the dramatic, the Eagles won six of their games that season - including the title tilt - by seven points or fewer. In a rematch with Cleveland later in the season, the Eagles rallied from a 22-7 third quarter deficit to win on a Bobby Walston 38-yard field goal with two seconds left. !

That win was a turning point in the eyes of the City of Philadelphia. The attendance at Franklin Field for the previous home game was a modest 38,065. Two weeks after the win over the Browns, over 58,000 fans filled up the legendary field on the University of Penn campus to watch the Eagles beat the Steelers.

On November 20, the Eagles in typical fashion trailed the New York Giants 10-0 at halftime. The true Giant on this day was Bednarik, who would unleash a hit that summarized everything that is beautiful and brutal about the game of football. Hall of Famer Frank Gifford caught a pass at the Eagles' 30-yard line. Bednarik crushed Gifford with "The Hit" that left him unconscious. Gifford did not play football that season and retired before making a comeback. The Eagles recovered Gifford's fumble and won the game

The nine-game win streak culminated with a 20-6 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals to clinch the Eastern Conference title. With a 10-2 record, the Eagles hosted Lombardi's Packers before 67,325 fans at Franklin Field.

In keeping with the trend, the Packers accumulated 105 more yards of offense than the Eagles. Green Bay even led 13-10 in the fourth quarter. But the Eagles' much maligned rushing attack accounted for the championship-winning points as Ted Dean scored on a 5-yard carry to put Philadelphia ahead in the final minutes. Green Bay had one last opportunity. Packers fullback Jim Taylor caught a pass and was inside the Eagles' 10-yard line. The only thing that stood between he and a Packers title was Bednarik. Concrete Charlie brought him down and took his time, making sure the final seconds had evaporated to secure the win, before allowing Taylor to get up.

The 1960 NFL Championship Team embodied the toughness and underdog spirit of Philadelphia. It was also lightning in a bottle. Head coach Buck Shaw and Van Brocklin went out on top and retired after the win. Two years later, the Eagles were a three-win team.

As the Eagles welcome two new members into their Hall of Fame, it's a chance to realize just how special that 1960 team was. Another one of the champions in Maxie Baughan takes his appropriate spot alongside a number of his teammates once again. It may have been only one season, but the memories have persevered the test of time.

*Information from The New Eagles Encyclopedia written by Ray Didinger was used in this story.

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