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In 1935 Bell proposed an annual college draft to equalize talent across the league. The draft was a revolutionary concept in professional sports. Having teams select players in inverse order of their finish in the standings, a practice still followed today, strove to increase fan interest by guaranteeing that even the worst teams would have the opportunity for annual infusions of the best college talent. Between 1927 (the year the NFL changed from a sprawling Midwestern-based association to a narrower, major-market league) and 1934, a triopoly of three teams (the Chicago Bears, New York Giants and Green Bay Packers) had won all but one title since 1927 (the lone exception being the Providence Steam Roller of 1928). By 1936 the club had suffered significant financial losses and was sold through a public auction. Bert Bell was the only bidder and became the sole owner of the team. Wray refused a reduction in his salary and left the team. Bell assumed the head coaching position and led the team to a record of 1-11, for last place in the league.

In 1940 the Eagles moved to Shibe Park (renamed Connie Mack Stadium in 1954) and played their home games at the stadium through 1957, except for during the 1941 season, which was played at Municipal Stadium, where they had played from 1936 to 1939. To football at Shibe Park during the winter, management set up stands in right field, parallel to 20th Street. Some 20 feet high, these “east stands” had 22 rows of seats. The goalposts stood along the first base line and in left field. The uncovered east stands enlarged capacity of Shibe Park to over 39,000, but the Eagles rarely drew more than 25,000 to 30,000. The team finished the 1937 season 2-8-1 and would continue to struggle over the next three seasons.

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