Obituary: John 'Jack' Wiley / Distinctive Steelers offensive lineman

April 18, 1920 -- March 25, 2013

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John F. Wiley never played in a championship game for the Steelers and never made a Pro Bowl, yet he remains one of the more distinctive players to wear the uniform.

Like Joe Greene, he wore No. 75.

Like Chuck Noll, he has a college football stadium named after him.

Like every current Steelers veteran, he played a game on television, only he holds a distinction none of the others do: he played in the very first televised college football game.

And unlike any other Steelers offensive lineman since him, he helped block for the NFL's leading rusher in Pittsburgh.

Mr. Wiley died Monday in Rock Hill, S.C. He was 92.

Among the oldest former Steelers players, Mr. Wiley, called "Jack," played offensive tackle for the Steelers from 1946 through 1950, a career delayed by his service as a captain in the Army during World War II.

At just 5-11, 208 pounds, he started 36 games in five seasons for the Steelers and blocked for "Bullet" Bill Dudley, the Hall of Fame back who led the NFL in rushing in 1946, the last Steelers player to do so.

"John was a fine player who had five great years with the Steelers, which was a successful stretch for the team under Dr. Jock Sutherland and John Michelosen," team chairman Dan Rooney said. "He contributed much for the Steelers as an offensive lineman."

Mr. Wiley, born to a farm family in the Greene County burg of Wind Ridge, attended Waynesburg University, where on Sept. 30, 1939, he and his teammates played in the first publicly televised college football game, at then-powerhouse Fordham University in New York City, broadcast by NBC.

Immediately after his career with the Steelers ended, Mr. Wiley returned to his alma mater as the Yellow Jackets' head football coach and athletic director for three years and later on the university's board of trustees. The football stadium at Waynesburg is named after him.

He then joined the University of Pittsburgh football staff in 1953, first for Red Dawson and then for Michelson through 1961. Among the players he helped recruit was Hall of Fame tight end Mike Ditka.

Mr. Wiley left his career in football to work as a salesman in Pittsburgh for LG Balfour Jewelry, which has produced Super Bowl and World Series championship rings and the first Stanley Cup ring worn by the 1991 Penguins.

He later became regional manager for Taylor Publishing before he and his wife, the former Helen Grace McColgin of Apollo, retired in 1983 to Clearwater, Fla., and later Rock Hill, S.C.

Mr. Wiley is survived by his wife; his sister, Peggy Morgan of Waynesburg; his children, John F. Wiley II of Rock Hill, S.C., Bonnie Graft of Edina, Minn., and Alan Wiley of Las Vegas; 11 grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.

obituaries - Steelers - pittsports

Ed Bouchette: ebouchette@post-gazette.com and Twitter @EdBouchette.


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