1984 Niners - 'paper champion' greatest team?

Re: 1984 Niners - 'paper champion' greatest team?

Postby TanksAndSpartans » Fri Sep 20, 2019 7:06 pm

I don't think they were the same team without a healthy Van Buren. Thompson was an underrated QB who had some good games, but a lot of the key players were getting past their prime by then. They were 6-6 in '50.
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Re: 1984 Niners - 'paper champion' greatest team?

Postby Saban » Fri Sep 20, 2019 9:29 pm

TanksAndSpartans wrote:I don't think they were the same team without a healthy Van Buren. Thompson was an underrated QB who had some good games, but a lot of the key players were getting past their prime by then. They were 6-6 in '50.




I think that the Eagles would have won the Eastern Conference with or without a prime Van Buran in 1950 if the Browns and improved Giants were not around.. Their "Eagle Defense" was considered the best of all time up to then and they added Chuck Bednarik in 1949. Bednarik was probably even better in his second season in 1950 and could have made up for some of the aging in 1950. The Eagles still led the NFL in least points allowed that year.

As good as the Eagles were, and they were a great team, the Browns were simply better.
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Re: 1984 Niners - 'paper champion' greatest team?

Postby Andy Piascik » Fri Sep 20, 2019 9:55 pm

While it's true the Eagles were not quite as good in 1950 as in 1949, I think Saban hit the nail on the head with his points: without the merger, the Eagles would have been far and away the best team in the East in 1950. They lost two games to the Browns and they lost twice to a Giants team that added Weinmeister, Landry, Rowe, Rapacz, Schnellbacher and one or two other AAFC players by a total of six points (7-3 and 9-7). In 1949, by contrast, they easily defeated the Giants twice, allowing only a combined six points in the two games.

With the merger, a terrible New York Bulldogs more or less morphed into the New York Yanks and became a very competitive team in the West (first place well into the season) because of all the added AAFC Yankees talent. Without the merger, the Bulldogs would have remained in the East and been easy pickings in two games for Philadelphia (the Bulldogs didn't score a single point against the Eagles in their two games in 1949). It's easy to see the Eagles going 10-2 and running away in the East in 1950 without all the changes.

Then consider that had they won the East in such a scenario, they would have hosted the Championship Game in cold Philadelphia against a warm-weather Rams team they beat by 42 points during the regular season. The Eagles dominated the Rams from 1944-50, going 7-0-1 including the 1949 title game.
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Re: 1984 Niners - 'paper champion' greatest team?

Postby TanksAndSpartans » Sat Sep 21, 2019 9:46 am

It wasn't a matter of Van Buren, not being in his prime - he wasn't healthy enough to play the full year. His last healthy season was '49. This is what the Eagles did in the '50s:

6-6
4-8
7-5
7-4-1
7-4-1
4-7-1
3-8-1
4-8
2-9-1
7-5

I would say the run was over after '49. And Van Buren was a workhorse - not having him did make a huge difference. They also fired Neale after '50.
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Re: 1984 Niners - 'paper champion' greatest team?

Postby Saban » Sat Sep 21, 2019 4:26 pm

I guess that it comes down to who was the best team in football in the 1948 and 1949 seasons, the AAFC champion Cleveland Browns or the NFL champion Philadelphia Eagles. So, let's see.

Best quarterback - I have to go with Otto Graham who many consider the best of his time.

Best running back - I would say Marion Motley who was not only a great runner but also a great blocker. Motley averaged 5.7 yards per carry over his career. Van Buran was great, but I would rather have a peak Motley (1946-1950) on my team. Motley was a great pass blocker and having him was like having an extra offensive lineman in the game.

Offensive line - Cleveland had two hall of fame players in their offensive line in center Frank Gatski and tackle Lou Groza. Lou Rymkus, their other offensive tackle, was nominated to the HOF and was considered one of the best tackles of his era. Ed Ulinski was named second team AAFC guard twice and guards Weldon Humble and Lin Houston had similar honors after the Browns entered the NFL.

Receivers - Mac Speedie and Dante Lavelli were probably the best pair of ends of the era with the possible exception of the Rams Hirsch and Fears. The Browns also had Dub Jones who was another great receiver. Philadelphia did have Pete Pihos, a great player, but I have to give Cleveland a big edge here.

Kicking game - Cleveland had the best punter and the best place kicker of the era in Horace Gillom and Lou Groza.

Defense - Cleveland led whatever league that they played in in least points allowed n 10 of their first 12 seasons (1946-1957). they were second in 1950 by 3 points and third in 1952. The Eagle defense was great, but the Browns exposed some flaws in it in 1950.

Head Coach - Paul Brown was considered the best of his time and some would say the best of all time. Otto Graham said that Brown was light years ahead of all the rest.

How could the Cleveland Browns during the years 1948 and 1949 not be the best?
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Re: 1984 Niners - 'paper champion' greatest team?

Postby Andy Piascik » Sat Sep 21, 2019 10:26 pm

Our posts were in response to your statement that the Eagles were "done" in 1950; their records for the rest of the decade are irrelevant to 1950. Had you said they were done in 1951 or some time thereafter, I would probably agree.

My contention, and Saban's, too, though he can obviously speak for himself, is that the Eagles were done in by the merger, the Browns and the influx of AAFC talent which the Eagles largely decided to pass on except for one player. Without the merger, the Eagles would have been far and away the best team in the East and in good position to win a third straight NFL title regardless of what injuries they incurred.

I'd be interested to hear what you have to say about that specific point. Do you think Philadelphia would have lost to the pathetic Bulldogs, who they would have played twice in 1950? Do you think they would have lost to the mediocre Giants (6-6 in 1949, six total points in two games against the Eagles) without Weinmeister, Landry, et al? Or are you in agreement that they very likely would have run away in the East with a 10-2 or so record and been in good shape to play the Rams at home in cold Philadelphia for the title?
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Re: 1984 Niners - 'paper champion' greatest team?

Postby TanksAndSpartans » Sun Sep 22, 2019 9:26 am

Saban wrote:I guess that it comes down to who was the best team in football in the 1948 and 1949 seasons, the AAFC champion Cleveland Browns or the NFL champion Philadelphia Eagles. So, let's see.


I was hoping this wasn't the case, but now it seems Saban was interested in building up the '50 Eagles, just so he could tear down the '48 and '49 Eagles and argue that the Browns were better. I think that's terrible logic. I thought it was odd for a 6-6 team to be spoken of in such glowing terms. Now I get it.

Andy Piascik wrote:My contention, and Saban's, too, though he can obviously speak for himself, is that the Eagles were done in by the merger, the Browns and the influx of AAFC talent which the Eagles largely decided to pass on except for one player.


Andy, please reread Saban's post about the Eagles v. the Browns. I don't think you two are making the same point. Seems to me, he's interested in doing what I said. I backed down on the Mac Speedie stuff and I actually am an open minded person willing to change my views when confronted with better evidence. But I'm happy to give the response you asked for here. I feel the Eagles did start their decline in 1950 and that the data is on my side (I posted the records above). I can't agree with a 6-6 team somehow being stretched into being called "great". In terms of the merger having explanatory power for the cause of the decline, I disagree there as well. Here are some better explanations:

1. Van Buren: He got himself onto the field after missing the early games including the Browns game, but he wasn't healthy. He talks about how much Novocaine, etc. he was doing at the end. '49 was his last health season.
2. Thompson: Wojciechowicz implies that had he not been fed up with ownership, he may have played longer. As it was, '50 was his last year.
3: Woji: I've tried to carefully watch the video of the '49 game and I believe I caught him making some nice plays on defense. It would be the last year he got regular playing time. In his own words, he was phased out in '50 and quit after the season
4. Pritchard: He didn't play in '50 and had been an important counter in the run game when Van Buren was keyed on.
5. Neale: He was fired after the '50 season. He fought with ownership all year.
6. Conflict with ownership: Training camp didn't get off to a good start as the owners refused to give raises because they felt the players had been making extra money from going to championship games.

The Browns being better than the Eagles in '50 "proves" they were the best team in football for the prior 4 years is a good example of faulty reasoning, nothing else.
Last edited by TanksAndSpartans on Sun Sep 22, 2019 9:45 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: 1984 Niners - 'paper champion' greatest team?

Postby lastcat3 » Sun Sep 22, 2019 9:43 am

Considering that the Browns lost just as many championship games as they won during the '50's chances are good that the same thing would have happened to the AAFC Browns if they were playing for the NFL championship.

I know there are a lot of fans of the '50's Browns on this forum but the Lions won just as many championships during the decade as the Browns did and the Colts teams of the late '50's arguably may have been better than any of the Browns teams up to that point.
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Re: 1984 Niners - 'paper champion' greatest team?

Postby lastcat3 » Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:14 am

Really if you take away the AAFC Browns accomplishments the Browns franchise really doesn't stand out all that much. They had a period between '50-'55 where they were really good and then they fell off a bit. We don't really know what the Browns would have been able to do against NFL teams during the years of '46-'49 (chances are good though that they wouldn't have been champion year in and year out just like they weren't when they joined the NFL).
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Re: 1984 Niners - 'paper champion' greatest team?

Postby Andy Piascik » Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:48 am

Actually, TanksandSpartans, your post doesn't address what I said at all. I said with a mountain of evidence why the Eagles in 1950 would have been the best team in the East and likely the NFL had there been no merger. Your response is to instead talk about injuries and personnel issues. What does Greasy Neale getting fired AFTER the 1950 season have to do with what likely would have happened in 1950 with no merger? And what does Thompson retiring AFTER the 1950 season have to do with his performance in 1950? I'm sure he played just as hard that year as he did any other time even if he was unhappy.

But you bring that up rather than address the specific points I raised: do you think the Eagles would have lost to the pathetic Bulldogs and the mediocre Giants without Weinmeister, etc. And I'm still failing to see what the Eagles' record in 1959 has to do with 1950.

I respect what you post here and don't want to continue this to a point where it gets contentious. And yes, you're right, Saban's last post veered off in a different direction. But his earlier post was along the same line as what I've been saying. The whole 1948-49 Browns vs. Eagles/AAFC vs. NFL thing is a different issue.

So I say again that even with all of the six things you mention in your last post, the Eagles still dominate the East if there's no merger and position themselves very well to win a third straight NFL title. I would say some of the conflicts and bickering you mention occurred because the Eagles got dominated by the Browns and surpassed by the AAFC-infused Giants, leading to great disappointment among the owners given that their team was being hailed as one of the best ever after what they did in 1948-49. Does Neale really get fired if the Eagles win a third straight title in the scenario I've laid out?

I'd say in order for this discussion to continue, the best thing would be to get away from the points Saban raised in his last post and focus on what the Eagles would have/might have done in 1950 had there been no merger. So again, maybe you could specifically address a rather simple point: with no merger, would the Eagles have beaten the pathetic Bulldogs and the mediocre Giants and run away with the East? The fact that you seem unwilling to answer that question implies that maybe you think Yes.
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