Steelers History, Foote Explains and a Legend

In the 1960s, Steelers founder Art Rooney voted twice to return the 1925 NFL championship trophy to the Pottsville Maroons, but only George Halas would vote with him and the petition failed each time. <br><br>More than 40 years later, the Pottsville movement again has life after Rooney's grandson, Art II, officially withdrew the original objection to Pottsville's championship at an NFL owners meeting.<br><br>How Rooney II was able to speak for Frankford and other juicy spring camp nuggets.

At last week's owners meeting in Philadelphia, one-sided opposition to playoff expansion scared off an expected vote on the issue, so the league had time to revisit a 78-year-old argument involving the 1925 championship debate between the Pottsville Maroons and Chicago Cardinals.

The Maroons, forerunners of the Washington Redskins, were declared champions of the 1925 NFL season after beating the Cardinals, 21-7.

The following Saturday, Pottsville – the home of Yuengling beer in northeastern Pennsylvania – traveled to Philadelphia and beat the Notre Dame All-Stars, 9-7. But the Frankford Yellow Jackets also played that day and the Philadelphia-area team protested that their territorial rights had been violated. NFL president Joe Carr agreed and stripped the Maroons of their championship and gave it to the Cardinals.

A group representing Pottsville attempted to reclaim the title in the 1960s, and last week recruited Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell to make a pitch at the owners meeting. To help the cause, Steelers vice president Art Rooney II took the podium and, in the name of the Frankford Yellow Jackets, rescinded the initial objection.

"We're the team that actually evolved from Frankford," Steelers owner Dan Rooney said. "Most people think Frankford became the Philadelphia Eagles, and they did originally, but the Steelers and Eagles switched franchises. So Art got up and added a little bit of humor to the meetings."

Records reveal that at the end of the 1940 season, Art Rooney sold the Steelers to Alexis Thompson and became Bert Bell's partner with the Eagles.

Unhappy in Pittsburgh, Thompson attempted to move the Steelers to Boston but was rebuffed by the league. Rooney, too, was unhappy without a team in Pittsburgh, and Bell didn't stand in the way when Thompson and Rooney agreed to swap franchises. The franchise that entered the league in 1933 as the Pittsburgh Pirates had now become the Eagles. The original Yellow Jackets (1924-32) became the Steelers.

As for the Maroons and their stripped championship, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said, "We will be looking at that issue."


Last February, second-year linebacker Larry Foote of the Steelers returned to the University of Michigan to party with old college friends but found himself in trouble when he came to the aid of a woman being assaulted outside of a restaurant.

Foote and his friends attempted to help the girl but it sparked a brawl involving between 15 and 20 people. Foote injured his left thumb in the fracas and was cited on a "disorderly person" charge. The misdemeanor will be wiped off Foote's record if he remains out of trouble for three months.

Upon his return to Pittsburgh for spring practices, Foote gave his side of the story:

"I was outside the restaurant, going into the restaurant, and there was an altercation going on, like a little party, and it was outside and I'm going in the restaurant," he said. "We just saw a girl go up through the air and slam down. We thought it was like a boyfield-girlfriend thing and we wanted to break it up. I was with some of the younger guys at Michigan. I wasn't really saying anything to the guy. It was just one guy who did it. There were just some words. Everybody was outside saying something to the guy. He was a bouncer at a party. So I leave and go in the restaurant with two of my other buddies, and about 25 guys came into the restaurant while we were ordering our food. I guess he'd gone home and gotten a lot of fraternity brothers. There was a lot of pushing and shoving."

So, how exactly did Foote help the girl?

"He picked her up and slammed her and everybody was like ‘Hey, get off of her.' I wasn't the only one helping. I was the only one who got in trouble, though. I don't know how that happened either. It was in the paper that I was arrested before they even sent me anything."


Joe Moore is the salt of Pittsburgh, and you'd better give the best college line coach ever a damn good explanation for bringing an O'Douls with you to his table.

Moore bought the part about past drinking problems and had a pretty good answer of his own when pressed on the tall glass of pink lemonade in front of him.

"I just got through some chemo treatments," said the 71-year-old Moore. "I need to let some time pass."

Without alcohol, the tales over the next couple of hours provided the intoxication.

"This guy here," Moore said, patting Steelers line coach Russ Grimm on the back, "he set the tone for centers at Pitt. After he played, it was so easy to coach centers there."

After Grimm was drafted in 1982, Jim Sweeney played center for Pitt. He was succeeded by Mark Stepnoski. The three players spent a combined 40 years in the NFL.

Moore, of course, coached one of the greatest offensive lines in the history of Pitt football, perhaps even all of college football. Grimm was the center in 1980. The tackles were Jimbo Covert and Mark May. The guards were Rob Fada and Emil Boures. The team went 11-1 and all five went on to play in the NFL. Covert, Grimm and May were All-Pros.

"Do you know," Grimm asked, "how many linemen Joe coached who were in the league at least one year?"
"Forty," Grimm said.
Moore put 2.4 offensive linemen into the pros every year for 17 years.
Ever coach in the NFL, Joe?

"No, and that's a regret," he said. "When I first came out of high school, Chuck Noll called and offered me a job and I turned him down because I'd already made a promise to Pitt. Can you believe that? And then when Rollie Dotsch left to coach in the USFL (1982), Chuck called again and I said no again because I'd just agreed to stay on at Pitt with Serafino (Foge Fazio). That was my last chance because there was no way Noll would let anyone tell him no three times."

When Fazio was fired after the 1985 season, the staff was let go and Moore went to Temple, which then beat Pitt in consecutive seasons. Moore then moved on to Notre Dame and coached the line until 1996. Incoming coach Bob Davie fired Moore, citing his age, and Moore successfully sued the university. His coaching career, however, had come to an end – at least on paper.

"I called him up a couple years ago and he said, ‘Russ, I can't talk now. I'm calling a game," Grimm said. "He was coaching the state championship game from his living room."

Moore still has close ties to the staff at Erie Cathedral Prep, and in the winter of 2000 watched the PIAA Class AAAA final on TV while talking to someone from the team on the phone. Was he making the line adjustments?

"Line adjustments? Hell, no," Moore roared. "I was calling the plays."

Jim Wexell
Steel City

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