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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Philadelphia Eagles Uniform and Team History



Please click on the evolution of the Eagles uniform poster above for a close-up version of the poster. The descriptions below give you some insight and background about the uniforms and/or eras depicted in the poster.


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Philadelphia Eagles 1934 uniform
1934
The story of the Eagles can't be told without telling the story of the Frankford Yellow Jackets. Frankford is in the northeastern part of Philadelphia and the Yellow Jackets were Philadelphia's sole National Football League franchise from 1924 to 1931 - in fact they won the NFL championship in 1926. They played their home games in Frankford Stadium, also known as Yellow Jacket Field.

The Yellow Jackets started, but could not complete, the 1931 season, and the NFL suspended and then revoked the franchise. The NFL spent almost two years searching for a new ownership group to operate a team in Philadelphia, and on July 9, 1933, the NFL granted an expansion franchise to Bert Bell and Lud Wray for $2500. In so doing the NFL awarded Bell and Wray the remains of the Yellow Jackets organization, including the Yellow Jackets jerseys. Some people tend to think of the Eagles as an extension of the Yellow Jackets franchise, but this is not the case - the Eagles were an expansion franchise. But the fact that they wore the Yellow Jackets old jerseys gave rise to that belief.

Part of the reason of the demise of the Yellow Jackets were Pennsylvania's "Blue Laws" which outlawed a variety of activities on Sundays, including the playing of football games. And even in that era Sundays were the preferred day of the week for NFL games, partly because it was not in conflict with college games on Saturdays. Pennsylvania repealed the Blue Laws in 1933, thus opening the door for the expansion Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Pirates (now Steelers) franchises.

When Bell and Wray established their NFL franchise in Philadelphia in 1933, the country was struggling to recover from the Great Depression. New president Franklin D. Roosevelt had introduced his “New Deal” program through the National Recovery Administration, which had the Eagle as its symbol. Since Bell hoped his franchise also was headed for a new deal, he picked Eagles as the team name.

The former Yellow Jackets jersey is quite unusual for its use of "UCLA" blue - an unusual color for that era. Note also the way that the blue stripe runs from one sleeve cuff all the way up the arm, across the shoulders, and down the next arm - often called a "Yoke" style of jersey. And just look at that beautiful helmet - truly ahead of its time!


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Philadelphia Eagles 1941 uniform
1941
The 1941 season saw a unique display of events take place, as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh traded home cities. Bert Bell and Art Rooney swapped franchises with Alexis Thompson. Rooney returned to Pittsburgh, and Thompson took over the Eagles. Bert Bell joined Rooney as a full-time partner in Pittsburgh, and Thompson hired Earl “Greasy” Neale as head coach of the team. The Eagles subsequently finished the season with a 2 – 8 – 1 record.

This jersey isn’t quite as flashy as the 1934 jersey we see on this poster. The colors have changed to black and grey, and not only on the jersey, but the helmet as well.


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Philadelphia Eagles 1943 uniform
1943
In 1943 World War II was in full force. To help maintain high morale throughout the country, the NFL, like Major League Baseball, decides to carry on at the advice of none other than President of the United States. Briefly summarized, he said that the games of baseball and football were too important to the people. Carrying on with the games would boost the morale of the entire Country, and get their minds off of the war effort for a short time.
Due to the shortage of players created by World War II, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh combined operations for this season. The team was called both Phil-Pitt and the Steagles. Greasy Neale of the Eagles and Walt Kiesling of the Steelers were co-coaches. The combined unit finished the season 5-4-1.
Including the 1943 season, Neale coached the Eagles for 10 seasons. He led them to their first significant successes in the NFL. Paced by such future Hall of Famers as RB Steve Van Buren, center-linebacker Alex Wojciechowicz, end Pete Pihos and center-linebacker Chuck Bednarik (who joined the Eagles in 1949), the Eagles dominated the league for six seasons.

The team takes a different angle this year with the jerseys, changing the team colours to green and white. Notice how the player numbers are much bigger now, and how the stripes continue to run down the shoulders and arms. Note also the colours on the helmet have changed to match the jersey.


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Philadelphia Eagles 1945 uniform
1945
The Eagles again finish in second place with a 7-3 record while leading the league in scoring with 272 points. End Steve Van Buren led the NFL with 838 rushing yards and 110 points.

This white jersey is a nice change from the dark colored 1941 jersey. Notice how the helmet has also changed color to match the uniform.


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Philadelphia Eagles 1948 uniform
1948
The Eagles win their first NFL championship this season, defeating the Chicago Cardinals, 7-0, in a blinding snowstorm at Shibe Park, ending the season with a record of 9-2-1. This was one of 2 successive shutout victories in the championship game. The other would come the following year in 1949 when they blanked the Rams 14-0.

This white jersey has green lettering on the front, while the stripes along the shoulders and arms are removed. Note the two green horizontal stripes on the arms. The helmet has changed slightly, adding a colour where there was once white.


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Philadelphia Eagles 1949 uniform
1949
Eagles owner Alexis Thompson sells the team to 100 buyers, each of whom paid $3,000 for one of the 100 shares. They were called the "Happy Hundred" or the "100 Brothers." Their leader was James P. Clark, a Philadelphia sportsman and business executive, and the 100 investors included some of the leading names in Philadelphia business, government and politics, including Leonard Tose.

Vince McNally is named general manager, while University of Pennsylvania All-America C/LB Chuck Bednarik is a 1st round draft choice. The Eagles win their 3rd straight Eastern Division title, ending the season at 11-1, and defend their NFL championship with a successive shutout win, this time over the Los Angeles Rams, 14-0.

The team decides to stick with the basics as they remove all the stripes, and keep the same helmet as the previous season.


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Philadelphia Eagles 1953 uniform
1953
Bobby Thomason and Adrian Burk combine to pass for a league-high 3,089 yards, while end Pete Pihos catches 63 passes for 1,049 yards and 10 touchdowns to lead the league.

The Eagles finish in second place with a record of 7-4-1,and snap Cleveland's 11-game winning streak with a 42-27 win in the season finale.

This green jersey hasn’t changed much since 1949, with exception to the numbering. Note the helmet: it is now all green, and matches the jersey.


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Philadelphia Eagles 1959 uniform
1959
A rash of injuries ended Philadelphia's era of domination and by 1958, the Eagles had fallen to last place in their division. That year, however, quarterback Norm Van Brocklin arrived in a trade with the Los Angeles Rams, and new coach Buck Shaw initiated a building program.

With Pete Retzlaff and Tommy McDonald as his chief targets, Norm Van Brocklin passes the Eagles to a 7-5 record and a second place tie with Cleveland.

This white jersey has adopted the green horizontal stripes on the arms once again, only this time adding white matching pants. Note the change of the helmet. They have added white eagles wings, as well as a safety bar.


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Philadelphia Eagles 1960 uniform
1960
QB Norm Van Brocklin and Chuck Bednarik, who play 60 minutes at center and linebacker, pace the Eagles to their first Eastern Division title in 11 years with a 10-2 record. The Eagles go on to win their third NFL championship with a come-from-behind 17-13 victory over Green Bay at Franklin Field. Van Brocklin, the league's MVP, and head coach Buck Shaw both announce their retirements at the end of the season.

The American Football League began in 1960 as an 8 team rival league to the NFL. Both leagues competed head to head for players, fans and broadcast revenue. This was the way it was from 1960 to 1965 - two separate leagues, two separate champions (although few people would have honestly believed that the AFL champions could have beaten the NFL champs). Then in 1965 the two leagues agreed to merge. It was decided that beginning in 1970 there would be only one league, the NFL. In the interim, between 1966 and 1969, the AFL Champion would play the NFL Champion for the “World Championship”. It was only after the first World Championship had been played in 1966 that the name “Super Bowl” came into being.

Joining the AFL as charter members were the: Dallas Texans (now Kansas City Chiefs); Denver Broncos; Los Angeles Chargers (now San Diego Chargers); Houston Oilers (now Tennessee Titans); Boston Patriots (now New England Patriots); Buffalo Bills; Oakland Raiders.

This green jersey has replaced the white stripes with white player numbers. Note also the change of the mask on the helmet. The logo of eagles wings is also on the sides.


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Philadelphia Eagles 1967 uniform
1967
Quarterback Norm Snead sets a team passing record of 3399 yards and 29 td’s, while flanker Ben Hawkins sets a team receiving record with 1265 yards. Unfortunately, injuries to other key players contribute to a disappointing 6-7-1 record and a second place finish.

This green jersey adds once again the white stripes, however changing them slightly, adding them to the arms as well as around the shoulders. The player numbers, however, are still on the arms. The helmet changes slightly, changing the mask.


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Philadelphia Eagles 1972 uniform
1972
Since 1970, when the Eagles left the University of Pennsylvania's Franklin Field, they have played in 65,356-seat Veterans Stadium before capacity or near-capacity crowds each week.

After a stormy 2-11-1 season, Tose accepts general manager Retzlaff's resignation and releases the entire coaching staff. A bright spot, however, is Harold Jackson, who leads the NFL in receptions and receiving yards (62-1,048).

This jersey has abandoned the stripes, and added a black outline to the player numbers. Notice the helmet has changed the mask, and have changed to a white helmet, making the eagles wings green.


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Philadelphia Eagles 1980 uniform
1980
After falling a half-game short of another Eastern conference championship in 1961, the Eagles didn't reach the playoffs again until 1978. Led by coach Dick Vermeil, who joined the team in 1976, Philadelphia qualified for the playoffs every year from 1978 to 1981. In 1980, the Eagles won a club-record 12 games to edge Dallas for the Eastern division title, and then they defeated the Cowboys 20-7 in the NFC championship game.

However, the Eagles lost to the Oakland Raiders 27-10 in Super Bowl XV.

Since 1970, when the Eagles left the University of Pennsylvania's Franklin Field, they have played in 65,356-seat Veterans Stadium before capacity or near-capacity crowds each week.

The Eagles win 11 of their first 12 games and go on to a 12-4 mark and the NFC East championship. The Birds trounce Minnesota 31-16, in the divisional playoff round and then upend Dallas, 20-7 at Veterans Stadium, to win the NFC title and a berth in Super Bowl XV. The Oakland Raiders prevail in that game, however, 27-10.

Ron Jaworski lead the NFC with a 90.9 passing rating while throwing for 3,527 yards and 27 touchdowns. He is named NFL player of the year by the Maxwell Football Club and NFC player of the year by UPI.

Harold Carmichael's then-record NFL receiving streak is snapped at 127 games when he fails to catch a pass in the regular season finale at Dallas after sustaining a back injury in the first half

After Vermeil left in 1982, the Eagles suffered through some lean years. But Norman Braman took control of the club in 1985 and began a rebuilding program that hit its stride in 1988.

This white jersey, as you can see, has added more stripes than ever, with five green stripes and two grey stripes. The player numbers have been moved to the shoulder, and if you look closely, you’ll see that the collar of the jersey is also green. Note also the mask on the helmet is changed. The helmet is green, and the logo has changed, outlining the wings with white, and colouring it in with grey.


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Philadelphia Eagles 1989 uniform
1989
After Vermeil left in 1982, the Eagles suffered through some lean years. But Norman Braman took control of the club in 1985 and began a rebuilding program that hit its stride in 1988. That year, the Eagles won the NFC East. Beginning in 1988, Philadelphia, led by its particularly dominating defense, won 10-or-more games for five straight years. In four of those years, the Eagles made the playoffs as a wild-card team.

The Eagles used an aggressive, ball-hungry defense - which led the NFL in takeaways (56) and interceptions (30), and set a team record with 62 QB sacks - to finish 11-5. Philadelphia, however, finished second to the Giants in the NFC East (despite two victories in head-to-head competition) and faced the LA Rams in the Wild Card playoff.

Although playing a post-season game at Veterans Stadium for the first time since 1981, the Birds fell 21-7. QB Randall Cunningham posted similar numbers to his superb '88 campaign despite missing receivers Mike Quick and Keith Jackson for most of the season due to injuries. A deeper loss came on Dec. 9, when quarterback coach Doug Scovil passed away. The second alternate to the Pro Bowl, Cunningham started for the NFC squad when injuries kept the other QBs from playing. CB Eric Allen led the NFC in interceptions with 8.

This white jersey, as you can see, now has short sleeves, with no stripes. The numbers are left on the shoulder, and have been outlined with black. If you look closely, a new eagle’s logo has been added to the arm of jersey. Note the mask on the helmet has changed.


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Philadelphia Eagles 1999 uniform
1999
A change in head coach, a change in quarterback, a change in defensive philosophy, a change in attitude. Indeed, change defined the theme that encompassed the Eagles.

The Eagles brought in former Green Bay quarterback coach Andy Reid as their new head coach on January 11th 1999. Three months later, the club used the 2nd overall draft choice to select QB Donovan McNabb, one of the most accomplished athletes to ever come out of Syracuse. With their revamped roster, the Eagles got off to a sluggish 0-4 start, but rebounded with a come-from-behind win vs. the rival Dallas Cowboys, as well as their first victory on the road since 1996, as they downed the Chicago Bears, 20-16, at Soldier Field. However, a three-game losing streak followed which then prompted Reid to insert McNabb into the starting lineup for six of the final seven contests.

In his first start on Nov. 14th vs. Washington, McNabb sparked the Birds to a 35-28 victory over the Redskins. Two weeks later in a rematch with the 'Skins, McNabb led the offense on two, 91-yd TD scoring drives in the 2nd half which erased a 17-3 deficit.

RB Duce Staley saw his stock rise around the NFL as he garnered his second straight 1,000-yd rushing season (a career-high 1,273 yds.) en route to being named the first alternate for the NFC Pro Bowl squad. Staley's 1,567 total yards from scrimmage accounted for a NFL-best 41% of his team's offense.

New defensive coordinator Jim Johnson turned up the heat as his troops accounted for a league-best 46 take-aways, including 28 interceptions (3rd in the NFL), five of which were returned for TDs, which was a team record. One of the many players who flourished under Johnson's system was FS Brian Dawkins, who earned his first Pro Bowl selection with 103 tackles, 4 INTs, and 6 forced fumbles. CB Troy Vincent also earned a berth on the Pro Bowl squad as his career-high 7 INTs tied for the league lead. As such, he became the first Eagle to top the entire NFL in INTs since Bill Bradley did so in 1972.

A physical cornerback as well, Vincent posted career highs in tackles (100) and forced fumbles (4). 2nd-year MLB Jeremiah Trotter established himself as a force in his first year as a starter, posting a team-best 202 tackles (107 solo), along with 2.5 sacks and 2 INTs.

Although the Eagles finished with a 5-11 record, Reid made it a priority to implement a very upbeat and positive attitude as the Eagles possessed one of the youngest teams in the NFL. At season's end, there were 16 rookie and first-year players on the roster, including 14 true rookies.

If you look closely at this jersey, you will note a smaller patch the NFL shield on the jersey’s neckline. Most NFL uniforms added the NFL logo patch to the neck and upper left thigh of the pants beginning in 1991 - an exception being in 1994 when teams occasionally wore "throwback" uniforms celebrating the NFL's 75th anniversary.

Note the change of the colour green. When asked why the colour changed, owner Jeffrey Lurie stated that “our fans want us to look less like the Jets.”

Check out the new logo: the name Eagles on the front, and a new picture of an eagle on the sleeves.

The arms now have grey stripes at the edge. Note the changes of the helmet: the mask has changed, as well as the colour, and the eagles wings. If you look closely, you will also see an NFL patch on the back of the helmet.


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Philadelphia Eagles 2000 uniform
2000
Often heard as the team broke the huddle following a late-season practice was the phrase, "Don't lose your personality." Those words were drummed into the players heads by 2nd year head coach Andy Reid, whose Eagles put Philadelphia back on the football map in the year 2000.

After finishing the previous season at 5-11, Reid, the NFL's coach of the year by the Maxwell Club, The Sporting News, and Football Digest, led the Eagles to the greatest turnaround in franchise history, finishing 2nd in the NFC East at 11-5 and earning a trip to the NFC Divisional Playoffs.

The unique personality of the Eagles was evident early on as an onsides kick by K David Akers was executed to perfection to kickoff the season opener at Dallas, leading them to a 41-14 thrashing of the Cowboys. Although they dropped their next two games, the Eagles rallied to win 10 of their next 13 games and earned the top Wild Card spot in the NFC.

A 4-0 record in November that included comeback, overtime wins vs. Dallas and at Pittsburgh and an emotional victory at Washington vaulted them into sole possession of first place in the NFC East for the first time that late in the season since 1988. In the playoffs, the Eagles overwhelmed Tampa Bay, 21-3, before losing to the eventual NFC Champion NY Giants in the Divisional Playoffs.

The stars of this team were plentiful, but none shined brighter than 2nd-year QB Donovan McNabb. When RB Duce Staley went down for the season with a foot injury in the fifth game of the year, McNabb became not only the focal point of the offense, but a legitimate Most Valuable Player candidate, while being named the first alternate on the NFC Pro Bowl squad. McNabb accounted for 74.6% of the team's total net yards (3rd in the NFL), including 629 rushing yards (tops among NFL QBs). He broke the club's single season record for most attempts (569) and completions (307) and became the first Eagles QB since 1994 (Randall Cunningham) to throw for over 3,000 yards in a season.
TE Chad Lewis reaped the benefits of McNabb's maturation, leading all NFC tight ends in receptions (69) and earning his first trip to the Pro Bowl as a starter.

The defense, orchestrated by coordinator Jim Johnson, ranked in the top ten in many categories, including fewest points allowed (15.9) and sacks (50) - the club's best output in each category since 1992. This unit featured three Pro Bowlers in CB Troy Vincent (5 interceptions), DE Hugh Douglas (15 sacks, plus 2 in playoffs), and MLB Jeremiah Trotter (171 tackles, 100 solo). First round draft choice DT Corey Simon also made an immediate impact, recording a rookie team-record 9.5 sacks.

A full-time kicker for the first time in his career, Akers etched his name into the club's record book for most points in a season (121) and most consecutive field goals made (13).

If you look closely at this jersey, you will note a smaller patch the NFL shield on the jersey’s neckline. Most NFL uniforms added the NFL logo patch to the neck and upper left thigh of the pants beginning in 1991 - an exception being in 1994 when teams occasionally wore "throwback" uniforms celebrating the NFL's 75th anniversary.

Note the change of the mask on the helmet. This jersey is still green, although the colour has changed throughout the years. The most recent change of colour happened after the 1995 season. When asked about the colour change, owner Jeffrey Lurie stated that “our fans want us to look less like the Jets.”


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Philadelphia Eagles 2004 uniform
2004
After the 2003 season, a season that saw the Eagles lose their third straight NFC Championship game (and second straight on home turf), the Eagles searched for a something or someone that could push them over the top. The answer came in a convoluted off-season deal that brought outspoken WR Terrell Owens to the Eagles. Owens and QB Donovan McNabb quickly became the Eagles dynamic duo on offence. Even though he missed the last 2 regular season games due to injury, T.O. caught 77 passes for 1200 yards and scored 14 touchdowns.

The Eagles stormed through the early part of the season, not suffering a loss until week 9 on the road against their cross-state rival Steelers. They would go on to win their next 6 contests, before losing their final two games. Philly would finish the season with a 13-3 record.

Despite their great record, the Eagles’ dreams of postseason success were put in doubt after Terrell Owens suffered a broken leg injury during a Week 15 game versus the Dallas Cowboys. Team doctors predicted that Owens would need eight weeks to heal and would most likely miss the entire playoffs including the Super Bowl. This setback seemingly did not affect the team as the Eagles rallied together and managed to advance to the Super Bowl, without Owens, by virtue of convincing wins over Minnesota, 27-14, in the NFC Divisional playoff and Atlanta, 27-10, in the NFC Championship game.

This would be the Eagles’ first trip to the Super Bowl since Dick Vermeil led his team to the promised land in 1980. In that contest they lost to the Oakland Raiders 27-10.
Before the NFL and AFL merged in the mid-1960’s to create the Super Bowl, the Eagles won NFL Championships in 1948, 1949 and 1960.

In Super Bowl XXXIX they could not stop New England’s Tom Brady and game MVP WR Deion Branch. The game was scoreless after the first quarter, but then things became wild at the end of the 1st half and throughout the 2nd half as fans were treated to one of the more exciting Super Bowl games in recent memory. But alas our Eagles lost a close one 27-24 on the strength of Pat PK Adam Vinatieri and his 22-yard field goal with 8:40 remaining in the game. Despite his injury, Terrell Owens played in the game and excelled. He played a major role with a team-leading nine receptions for 122 yards.

This Eagles black jersey was first introduced in 2003 when the Eagles played the Giants in Week 11. It is virtually opposite in color scheme to their green home jerseys and was an immediate hit with fans.

This jersey is what is referred to nowadays as a “3rd jersey”. A 3rd jersey is a concept that became commonplace in baseball and hockey in the 1990’s, and in the 2000’s in the NFL. Most 3rd jerseys are worn occasionally at home as well as on the road, giving a team a third option as to what uniform to wear. And of course, the addition of a third jersey adds to the options fans can buy, thereby increasing apparel revenues and ultimately benefiting the team. More recently, baseball and hockey teams have begun adding 4th and even 5th jerseys to their roster of uniform possibilities, but this trend has not started in the NFL, nor is it likely to if for no other reason than the fact that the NFL season consists of only 16 regular season games vs baseball’s 162 and hockey’s 82.


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Philadelphia Eagles 2007 uniform
2007:
Text not yet written.


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Celebrate the Eagles' uniform history by owning a piece of history:
If you love the Philadelphia Eagles and the history of the Eagles franchise, you might really love to own an original piece of artwork celebrating the team's historic uniforms as seen in the poster at the top of this blog - you can actually own one of those original pieces of art! There are only 16 pieces of original art available for sale, and when these 16 are sold, that's it, they're all sold out.

These original watercolor paintings would make a great gift (birthday gift, anniversary gift, retirement gift, Christmas gift, etc.) for someone you love or even a great gift for yourself (one of these framed pieces would look fantastic in your home or office). Each piece can be bought one of three ways:
1. As unframed art that you could have framed or mounted yourself (the one on the left)
2. Framed in our "Classic" framed version (the middle version)
3. Framed in our "Deluxe" framed version (the version on the right)



If you would like more information about this great artwork including the three ways you could purchase each piece, please visit our Philadelphia Eagles YouTube video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptQNBQxslW0 or go directly to the artwork website www.heritagesportsart.com/Philadelphia-Eagles-c126/ where you can see and purchase the artwork.

And if someone you know loves the history of sports uniforms (but maybe another team) and loves great art, please let them know that we have over 1500 pieces of great original artwork for sale at www.heritagesportsart.com (all NFL teams, all MLB teams, all NHL teams, all CFL teams, select NCAA football teams) or check out each team's video at the Heritage Sports Art YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/user/ssillcox

And please search my blog archive http://heritagejerseys.blogspot.com/ for other blogs on the history of the Eagles.
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This blog was written by Scott Sillcox and was last updated August 18, 2010. I have tried to ensure the accuracy of the information, but I am human and can make mistakes. If you believe I have made a mistake, please let me know by email at ssillcox@rogers.com !

Many thanks!!!
Scott

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