From the PG Archives: Rooney Sells Pro Football Club To Boston Promoter

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This story from the Post-Gazette archives was first published on Dec. 1o, 1940.

Will Hire "Greasy" Neale as Coach -- Rooney Buys Into Eagles -- Bears Get armon, Cards Get Kimbrough in Draft

A new owner and a new coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers; a new co-owner and a new co-coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, a division of Steeler and Eagle players, some Steelers becoming Eagles and some Eagles becoming Steelers, are the main complications Pittsburgh pro football fans are expected to try to straighten out today.

The new owner of the Pittsburgh pro eleven is Alexis Thompson, persistent and wealthy young New York sportsman who hounded Arthur J. Rooney, local promoter, through last season with an offer to buy the Pittsburgh franchise in the National Football League, a Rooney possession the past eight seasons.

Thompson's choice for coach is Earle (Greasy) Neale, well known hereabouts as a former major league baseball player, ex-coach of Wash-Jeff and West Virginia University football, and for the past seven seasons, backfield coach at Yale.

With a part of the purchase price, said to be $160,000, paid him by Thompson, Rooney bought 50 percent of Owner Bert Bell's holdings with the Eagles and took with him Steeler Coach Walt Kiesling, who becomes co-coach of the Eagles, with Heinie Miller, present head mentor.

Rooney is reported to have paid Bell $80,000.

Players transferred

Under the new setup, Philadelphia transferred Ends Red Ramsey and Joe Carter, Tackles Phil Ragazzo and Clem Woltman. Guard Ted Schmidt, who formerly played for Pitt, and Backs Foster Watkins and Joe Bukant to the Steelers.

At the same time, Steeler players George Platukis, Walt Kichefski and John Klumb, ends; Clark Goff and Ted Doyle, tackles; Carl Nery and Jack Sanders, guards; and Boyd Brumbaugh, Jack Noppenberg, George Klick and Rocco Pirro, backfield performers, were transferred to the Eagles roster.

Perhaps the most definite point in the whole affair today was the announcement out of Washington, D.C., where all those complications came into the news yesterday during the annual business sessions of the professional loop, that a club would operate in Pittsburgh and another in Philadelphia, next season.

Thompson, an enthusiastic young sportsman of 30, vice-president of a drug company and son of a former director of a steel company, formed a syndicate three months ago, the East-West Sporting Club, to buy a franchise in the league, intending at that time to place it in Boston.

Thompson inherited a $6,000,000 steel fortune at the age of 15.

"I made only $5,000 this year, and it was a good year financially at home," Rooney said. "I figured that if that was the best I could do I would have to do something about it. The war situation and conscription, with regard to football players, also had me worried."

Rooney estimated his football losses over the eight years he held the Pittsburgh franchise to be around $100,000. He bought the franchise for $2500.

Will operate here next year

How long Thompson will maintain the franchise in Pittsburgh Rooney was unable to state.

"All I know is that he has said it will be in Pittsburgh next season," he said.


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