Happy 87th birthday to the Pittsburgh Steelers. And I gotta tell yinz guys, they look great for their age.
July 8th, 1933 marks the date Art Rooney Sr. – the Chief – officially bought an NFL franchise. They wouldn’t be called the Steelers until 1940, dubbed the Pittsburgh Pirates until then, a common tactic by NFL teams to steal support from the highly popular MLB.
Cost of a franchise back then? $2500, the equivalent of $49,000 in today’s money. No small figure especially during the Great Depression. Contrary to popular opinion, Rooney did not win that money from the track – his big payday at Saratoga wouldn’t come until several years later. There’s no doubt though those winnings helped keep the team afloat during the lean years when football wasn’t profitable.
Here’s a newspaper clipping from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on the news.
If you’d like to take a trip down memory lane, check out some articles we’ve written on those early years.
1933 Season Recap
A recap into their inaugural year, compiled together from the Post-Gazette and defunct Pittsburgh Press. We go through the season game-by-game, from the team’s first points (a fumble/safety forced by center Cap Oehler), first touchdown (a 99 yard TD by Butch Kottler, he was cut three weeks later) and first offensive touchdown (11 yard score by receiver Paul Moss).
1934 Season Recap
We did the same with the ’34 season. Lots of new faces, same disappointing season.
Johnny “Blood McNally”
A little bit later in their history, the team hired Blood McNally first as a player, later as a coach. Let’s just say he was a much better player than he was leader. Our David Orochena retells his crazy life story.
Jap Douds was the team’s first head coach followed up by Luby DiMeolo. Both only lasted a season, staff turnover that became all too common for the franchise prior to Chuck Noll’s arrival.
The Game’s First Kicker
We’ll finish by highlighting a player we recently did a video series on. Mose Kelsch is widely considered the NFL’s first specialist, becoming a kicker in his final years of football. Tragically, he was killed in a car accident in July of 1935.