October 22, 1923|
August 16, 2011 (aged 87)|
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
|Height:||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
|Weight:||210 lb (95 kg)|
|High school:||Chicago (IL) Austin|
|NFL Draft:||1945 / Round: 5 / Pick: 41|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at PFR|
|Years of service||1944–1946|
|Unit||35th Infantry Division|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Pihos played college football, principally as an end and fullback, for Indiana University from 1942 to 1943 and 1945 to 1946. He was selected as a first-team All-American in 1942, 1943, and 1945. His college playing career was interrupted by service in the United States Army during World War II. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1966, the first Indiana player to be so honored.
Pihos played professional football as an end in the National Football League (NFL) for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1947 to 1955. While with the Eagles, he helped the team win back-to-back NFL championships in 1948 and 1949. He was selected six times to play in the Pro Bowl (1950–1955) and six times as a first-team All-Pro (1948, 1949, 1952–1955). During his career, he was one of the NFL's leading receivers. He was named to the NFL 1940s All-Decade Team in 1969 and inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1970.
After his playing career was over, Pihos was the head football coach for National Agricultural College (later renamed Delaware Valley University) from 1956 to 1958. He also held coaching positions with Tulane University (assistant coach, 1959–1960) and the Richmond Rebels (head coach, 1964–1965).
- 1 Early life
- 2 College and World War II
- 3 Professional football player
- 4 Coaching career
- 5 Honors
- 6 Family and later years
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Pihos was born in 1923 in Orlando, Florida. His parents, Louis and Mary Pihos, were Greek immigrants. In August 1937, when Pihos was 13 years old, his father, the operator of an all-night restaurant in Orlando, was murdered. His body was discovered behind the counter of the restaurant with his skull fractured in 12 places. Police concluded he had been struck with a meat cleaver or axe. A young truck driver was arrested and charged with the murder but was not convicted.
Pihos attended Orlando High School where he played football as a tackle and basketball as a guard. When he was a junior in high school, his mother moved the family to Chicago, where he attended Austin High School.
College and World War II
1942 and 1943 seasons
Pihos attended the Indiana University and played for the Indiana Hoosiers football team, first as an end in 1942 and 1943. As a sophomore in 1942, Pihos caught 17 passes for 295 yards. He scored the only touchdown in a 7–0 upset victory over the seventh-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers, which came in the game's closing minutes and ended Minnesota's hope of a third straight Big Ten Conference title. He was named to the All-America team selected based on the votes of 1,706 fellow players, earned honorable mention on the United Press (UP) All-America team, and was a second-team selection on the UP's All-Big Ten team.
As a junior in 1943, Pihos caught 20 passes for 265 yards and four touchdowns and scored two rushing touchdowns. He led the Hoosiers to a 34–0 victory over Wisconsin; after catching a touchdown pass from Bob Hoernschemeyer in the first half, head coach Bo McMillin moved him into the backfield for the second half where he scored two rushing touchdowns. He was named a first-team All-American by Sporting News, Collier's Weekly, and The New York Sun. He was also a unanimous selection by conference coaches as a first-team end on the 1943 All-Big Nine Conference football team. On January 1, 1944, Pihos and teammate Bob Hoernschemeyer played for the East team in the East–West Shrine Game, with Hoernschemeyer throwing a touchdown pass to Pihos in a 13–13 tie game.
World War II
Pihos was drafted into the United States Army in January 1944. He served in the 35th Infantry Division under George S. Patton. Commissioned as a second lieutenant on the battlefield, he was awarded the Bronze Star and Silver Star medals for bravery. He was granted a furlough to return to Indiana University in September 1945 while awaiting his final discharge.
1945 and 1946 seasons
When Pihos returned to Indiana after his military service, he played at the fullback position for the 1945 Indiana Hoosiers football team that compiled the only undefeated record (9–0–1) in Indiana football history, won the program's first Big Ten Conference championship, and finished the season ranked No. 4 in the final AP Poll. He had only two days of practice before his first game back, Indiana's second game of the season, against Northwestern. He scored Indiana's only touchdown in the game, when he caught a pass at the Northwestern five-yard line and dragged three defenders with him over the goal-line. He scored the first two touchdowns in Indiana's 26–0 win over Purdue in the final game of the year. Pihos finished the season having carried the ball 92 times for 410 yards and seven touchdowns. He earned first-team All-America honors from Yank, the Army Weekly magazine, and finished eighth in voting for the Heisman Trophy.
As a senior, Pihos played three positions (fullback, halfback, and quarterback) and was named the most valuable player on the 1946 Indiana Hoosiers football team. In a show of versatility, and despite suffering from a throat infection and thigh injury during the 1946 season, he carried the ball 76 times for 262 rushing yards, completed seven of twelve passes for 84 passing yards, had ten catches for 213 receiving yards, and scored eight touchdowns. He ended his college career by scoring three touchdowns against the Purdue Boilermakers, helping the Hoosiers win the Old Oaken Bucket for that year. Pihos finished third in the voting for the Chicago Tribune Silver Football as the most valuable player in the Big Nine Conference.
In four seasons at Indiana, Pihos scored 138 points, which was then the school's all-time scoring record. He also broke Indiana career records for touchdowns and receptions. Bo McMillin, Indiana's head football coach since 1934, called Pihos "the greatest all-around football player our team has known in my time at Indiana."
Professional football player
Pihos was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fifth round (41st overall pick) of the 1945 NFL Draft, but he continued to play for Indiana in 1945 and 1946. In February 1947, he signed to join the Eagles after his graduation in June. In his first NFL season, he caught 23 passes for 382 yards and seven touchdowns. He also blocked a punt by Sammy Baugh and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown against the Washington Redskins.
The Eagles made it to the NFL Championship Game in each of Pihos' first three seasons with the team. In 1947, the team captured its first division championship. In the playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers for the Eastern Division title, Pihos blocked a punt to set up the first touchdown in the Eagles' 21–0 win. The Eagles then lost 28–21 to the Chicago Cardinals in the 1947 NFL Championship Game. Pihos caught three passes for 27 yards in that game and intercepted a pass while playing defense. The Eagles then won consecutive NFL championship games in 1948 and 1949. Pihos scored the only offensive touchdown of the 1949 championship game via a 31-yard reception in the second quarter during a heavy downpour.
Pihos' 766 receiving yards and 11 receiving touchdowns in 1948 were both the second-most in the NFL that season. He earned first-team All-Pro recognition in 1948 from United Press (UP), New York Daily News, Chicago Herald-American, and Pro Football Illustrated and in 1949 from the International News Service, UP, Associated Press, and New York Daily News. He was invited to his first of six-straight Pro Bowls after the 1950 season. In 1951, Pihos led the Eagles in receptions and receiving yards and intercepted two passes as a defensive end.
Pihos caught only 12 passes and scored only one touchdown in 1952, causing the Eagles front office to suspect he was washed up. However, he still managed to make the Pro Bowl and earn first-team All-Pro honors by the AP as a defensive end. Not willing take a pay cut and be an exclusive defensive end, Pihos trained heavily during the off-season prior to 1953. He went on to have his greatest statistical success over the next three seasons, which were ultimately his final three; he recorded similar statistics over that three-year span (185 receptions, 2,785 yards, and 27 touchdowns) to his first six seasons (188 receptions, 2,834 yards, and 34 touchdowns). Pihos led the NFL in receptions in each of his final three seasons, in receiving yards twice, and in receiving touchdowns once. In 1953, he became the third different player to record a "triple crown" in receiving; he led the NFL in receptions (63), receiving yards (1,049), and receiving touchdowns (10) that season.
In November 1955, Pihos announced that the current season would be his last as a player. In his final NFL game, on December 11 against the Chicago Bears, he caught 11 passes for 114 yards. He retired after playing in the Pro Bowl that January, in which he caught four passes and scored the East's first touchdown by out-leaping defender Jack Christiansen to snag a 12-yard pass from Eddie LeBaron. During his nine seasons of play with the Eagles, Pihos missed just one game.
In March 1956, shortly after retiring from the NFL, Pihos was hired as the head football coach at National Agricultural College (later renamed Delaware Valley University) in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. He had been an advisory coach for the college in 1955 and also taught classes in business law. He remained in the position for three years and led the 1958 National Aggies to a 5–2–1 record. His contract was not renewed after the 1958 season.
In August 1959, Pihos was hired as an assistant coach under head coach Andy Pilney for the Tulane Green Wave football team. Pihos was give responsibility for coaching the ends. Pihos spent two years coaching at Tulane with the team compiling 3–6–1 records in both 1959 and 1960. In December 1960, Pihos resigned his position at Tulane.
In February 1961, Pihos was hired by a group seeking to secure a professional football franchise for Cincinnati in the American Football League (AFL) for the 1962 season. Pihos was the general manager of the enterprise and was also slated to be head coach of the proposed team. However, when the AFL announced its expansion plans for 1962, Cincinnati was not awarded a franchise.
Semipro and minor league football
In 1964, Pihos served as the head coach of the Richmond Rebels of the Atlantic Coast Football League. He remained with the Rebels in 1965 as the team joined the Continental Football League. He led the Rebels to records of 8–5–1 in 1964 and 6–8 in 1965. He stepped down as the coach of the Rebels in February 1966.
Pihos received numerous honors for his accomplishments as a football player. His honors include the following:
- In October 1961, Pihos was named to the Helms Athletic Foundation's Major League Football Hall of Fame.
- In February 1966, he was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. He was the first Indiana Hoosiers football player to receive the honor. In a halftime ceremony during the opening game of Indiana's 1966 season, the school presented Pihos with a special citation for his contribution to the university through football.
- In August 1969, as part of the NFL's 50th anniversary, the Pro Football Hall of Fame selected all-decade teams for each of the league's first five decades. Pihos was selected as an end on the NFL 1940s All-Decade Team.
- In February 1970, he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. At the induction ceremony in August 1970, a telegram was presented from Vice President Spiro Agnew calling Pihos "the golden Greek of football" and "the most durable and versatile football player" of his time.
- In 1978, Pihos was inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame.
- In 1982, he was one of the inaugural inductees into the Indiana Hoosiers Hall of Fame.
- In November 1987, he was one of the 11 inaugural inductees into the Philadelphia Eagles Honor Roll.
Family and later years
Pihos was married four times. In May 1944, he married Dorothea Lansing at the First Methodist Chapel in Bloomington, Indiana. Pihos was at that time a private in the Army stationed at Camp Reynolds. They met while both were students at Indiana University. She became a pediatrician. They were divorced in 1949.
Pihos was next married in December 1949 to model, Mary Cecile Clark, also known as Cecile Chandler. He and his second wife separated in 1965 and were divorced in 1967. He was married for a third time to Charlotte Berlings Wolfe in November 1967. His fourth marriage was to Donna Ballenger.
After retiring from football, Pihos had a business career. As of 1970, he was a vice president of Regal Home Improvement Co. in Richmond, Virginia. In 1977, he was living in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and was employed as a vice president of Franklin National Life Insurance Co.
In 2001, Pihos was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. In 2004, he was victimized by a con artist who acquired Pihos' lifetime collection of sports memorabilia in exchange for $30,000 in bogus checks. He spent his last years at the Grace Healthcare nursing home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He died there at age 87 in August 2011. His neurologist opined that Pihos' dementia was caused by blows to the head during his career as a football player. Pihos was buried at Bethel United Methodist Church Cemetery in Winston-Salem.
Pihos' daughter Melissa Pihos made a series of documentary films about her father. She began in 2010 with a documentary short titled Dear Dad juxtaposing photos and footage from his days as a football player with images of him as he fought the disease. She also created Pihos: A Moving Biography exploring aspects of her father's life and his struggle with Alzheimer's disease through film and dance. Her efforts culminated in a feature-length documentary titled Pihos: A Life in Five Movements.
- "Pete Pihos, Hall of Fame NFL star of 1940s and '50s, dies at 87". The Washington Post. August 16, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
- "Pete Pihos Stats". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
- "Orlando Murder". Fort Myers (FL) News-Press. August 2, 1937. p. 2 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Greek Colony Offers $500 Reward for Slayer". Tallahassee Daily Democrat. August 2, 1937. p. 12 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Pihos Case in Another Twist". The Orlando Sentinel. January 9, 1938. p. 8 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Hearing Delayed". The Orlando Sentinel. January 22, 1938. p. 9 – via Newspapers.com.
- The 1939 Jigando (Orlando High School yearbook), approximately page 76 and 79. Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012 [database on-line].
- Bense, Maddie; Jalowitz, Alan. "Peter Pihos". Pennsylvania Center for the Book. Archived from the original on April 26, 2017. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
- Devine, Tommy (November 9, 1942). "Illinois, Ohio, Iowa Now Tied; Gophers Sixth". The Hammond Times. United Press. p. 9. Retrieved April 25, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Players Put Pihos On All-America". The Indianapolis Star. United Press. January 1, 1943. p. 12 – via Newspapers.com.
- "State Teams Gain Pair Of AA Positions". The Vidette-Messenger. United Press. December 4, 1942. p. 10. Retrieved April 25, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
- Devine, Tommy (December 1, 1942). "Wisconsin End Top Gridder On All Big Ten Eleven". Reading Eagle. p. 15. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
- "Pete Pihos College Stats". Sports Reference. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
- "Indiana Jolts Wisconsin 34–0: Pihos Clicks In Backfield As Hoosiers Outclass Foes". The Courier-Journal. Associated Press. October 24, 1943. p. 44 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Collier's Selects 1943 All Stars". The Bulletin. United Press. December 10, 1943. p. 3. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
- "4 Eastern Players On Sun's Grid Team". Nashua Telegraph. Associated Press. December 4, 1943. p. 2. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
- "Trio Ranked Above Field: Graham, Pihos and Mitchell Are Unanimous All Big Ten Selections". The Daily Chronicle. United Press. November 26, 1943. p. 8.
- "Children Only Winners in All-Star Game". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Associated Press. January 2, 1944 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Pete Pihos Gets Draft Summons". The Indianapolis Star. January 7, 1944. p. 16 – via Newspapers.com.
- Rosenthal, Gregg (June 6, 2013). "Pro Football Hall of Famers who fought on D-Day". National Football League. Retrieved June 6, 2013.
- "Pihos, Brown Bolster I.U. for Wildcat Game". The Indianapolis Star. September 28, 1945. p. 21 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Indiana Hoosiers School History". SR/College Football. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
- Goldstein, Richard (August 16, 2011). "Pete Pihos, Eagles Hall of Fame Receiver, Dies at 87". The New York Times. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
- "Pete Pihos And Sarringhaus Return To Big Ten Football". The Eugene Guard. United Press. October 3, 1945. p. 7. Retrieved April 26, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
- Liska, Jerry (November 25, 1945). "Indiana Tromps Purdue To Take 1st Big 10 Title". The Pantagraph. Associated Press. p. 6. Retrieved April 26, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Yank Magazine Has An All-American Team". The Morning Herald. Associated Press. December 21, 1945. p. 17. Retrieved April 26, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
- "1945 Heisman Trophy Voting". Sports Reference. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
- "Pihos Selected As Most Valuable On Indiana Squad". The Indianapolis Star. November 29, 1946. p. 22 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Pete Pihos Named I. U.'s Most Valuable". The Kokomo Tribune. United Press. November 29, 1946. p. 17. Retrieved May 3, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Pete Pihos Voted Third Most Valuable". Seymour (IN) Tribune. December 16, 1946. p. 8 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Pete Pihos profile". Indiana Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
- "Pete Pihos profile". IUHoosiers.com. Indiana University. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
- "Pete Pihos, Ace Fullback, To Play for Eagles in '47". The Philadelphia Inquirer. February 21, 1947. p. 30 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Eagles Hang Up Win Over 'Skins". The Morning Herald. Associated Press. November 3, 1947. p. 12. Retrieved May 15, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Eagles Win Eastern Grid Title Over Steelers—Face Cards Next". The Wilkes-Barre Record. Associated Press. December 22, 1947. p. 21. Retrieved May 3, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Championship – Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Cardinals – December 28th, 1947". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
- "Eagles Submerge Rams for Title, 14–0". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. December 19, 1949. p. 20. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
- "Pete Pihos State". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
- Grayson, Harry (November 5, 1954). "Pihos Staged Comeback To Lead Pro Receivers". Herald and News. Newspapers Enterprise Association. p. 12. Retrieved May 15, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Pete Pihos Receiving & Rushing Statistics for Career Games 1953 to 1955". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
- "Pete Pihos Receiving & Rushing Statistics for Career Games 1947 to 1952". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
- "Triple crown for receivers". Chicago Tribune. December 18, 2003. Retrieved May 6, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Pete Pihos Of Eagles To Retire This Year". The Gazette and Daily. Associated Press. November 30, 1955. p. 33. Retrieved May 15, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
- "East Pros Squeeze Past West, 31–30". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. January 16, 1956. p. 16. Retrieved May 15, 2017.
- "Pete Pihos Bio". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
- "Pete Pihos Appointed National Aggies Coach". Hartford Courant. March 22, 1956. p. 19 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Lew Elverson To Address Aggies' Football Banquet". The Daily Intelligencer (Doylestown, Penn.). December 3, 1958. p. 10 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Bill Would Give National Aggies $239,200 Boost". The Daily Intelligencer (Doylestown, Penn.). February 27, 1959. p. 1 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Tulane Picks Pete Pihos as Coach of Ends". Chicago Tribune. August 9, 1959. p. 2-3 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Pete Pihos Quits Tulane Position". Fort Myers (Fla.) News-Press. December 31, 1960. p. 3B – via Newspapers.com.
- "Cincinnati Dukes Hire Pete Pihos As Coach". The Cincinnati Enquirer. February 22, 1961. p. 35 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Dallolio Getting Shoddy Support". The Daily Journal (Vineland, NJ). April 21, 1961. p. 8 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Hammonton Picks Pihos as Coach". The Daily Journal (Vineland, New Jersey). August 6, 1962. p. 5 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Bakers Risk 41-1 Record". Delaware County Daily Times. October 19, 1963. p. 13 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Rebel Staff Likes Early Drill Showing". The Progress-Index. July 21, 1964. p. 7 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Pete Pihos Quits As Rebels Coach". Hartford Courant. February 1, 1964. p. 43 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Four pro grid veterans in Hall of Fame". Redlands (CA) Daily Facts. October 4, 1961. p. 12 – via Newspapers.com.
- "14 Named to Grid Hall of Fame". Star-Gazette and Advertiser. February 22, 1966. p. 14 – via Newspapers.com.
- "IU Will Honor Pihos At Opener". The Anderson (IN) Herald. September 14, 1966. p. 9 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Optimism Curbed, But Nine Games Still Left". The Kokomo (IN) Tribune. September 18, 1966. p. 19.
- "All-1940 squad includes Baugh". The Morning News, Wilmington, Delaware. August 29, 1969. p. 35 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Ex-Eagle Pihos in football 'Hall'". The Morning News, Wilmington, Del. February 3, 1970. p. 31 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Austin High's Pihos, 3 Others Inducted Into Grid Hall of Fame". Chicago Tribune. August 9, 1970. p. 2-5 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Eagles honor greats of past". The Morning News, Wilmington, Delaware. November 3, 1987. p. C4 – via Newspapers.com.
- "All-American Pihos Weds Co-Ed at I.U." The Indianapolis Star. May 28, 1944. p. 38 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Pihos Sued for Divorce". The Terre Haute Star. April 23, 1949. p. 7 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Pete Pihos Marries". The Morning News (Wilmington, Delaware). December 19, 1949. p. 19 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Commonwealth of Virginia - Report of Divorce or Annulment, between Peter Louis Pihos and Mary Cecile Clark (date of marriage 12/1/49). Ancestry.com. Virginia, Divorce Records, 1918-2014 [database on-line]".
- Ancestry.com. Virginia, Marriage Records, 1936-2014 [database on-line].
- Certificate of Marriage between Peter Louis Pihos and Charlotte Berlings Wolfe. Certificate states that Pihos had previously been married twice. Ancestry.com. Virginia, Marriage Records, 1936-2014 [database on-line].
- "Former IU grid star Pete Pihos recent visitor in Richmond". Palladium-Item, Richmond, Indiana. January 10, 1977. p. 11 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Peter Louis Pihos". Pennsylvania Center for the Book. Archived from the original on April 26, 2017. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
- Bill Buchalter (February 8, 1970). "Pete Pihos Saw 'Work' Was His Bag". Orlando Sentinel. p. 3D – via Newspapers.com.
- "Late Hit From a Con Artist". Sports Illustrated. March 8, 2004.
- "Two legends have Alzheimer's". Courier-Post (Camden, NJ). January 27, 2005. p. 5C – via Newspapers.com.
- Richard Goldstein (August 21, 2011). "Pete Pihos: Receiver led Eagles to two crowns". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. C5 – via Newspapers.com.
- Davis, Nate (August 16, 2011). "Hall of Fame WR Pete Pihos passes away". USA Today. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
- "Pete Louis Pihos". Find a Grave.com. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
- Barber, Keith (February 24, 2010). "'Dear Dad,' Opens 2010 Carolina Film and Video Festival". Yes! Weekly. Archived from the original on March 26, 2012. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
- Melissa Pihos. "Dear Dad". Retrieved May 5, 2017.
- Will Bunch (June 10, 2012). "Daughter's Tribute to Dad, Pihos". The Philadelphia Daily News. pp. 32–33 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Pihos: A Life in Five Movements". New York Foundation for the Arts. Retrieved May 5, 2017.