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).
|Born:||October 22, 1923|
|Died:||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 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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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:
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.
The 1942 All-Big Ten Conference football team consists of American football players selected to the All-Big Ten Conference teams selected by the Associated Press (AP) and United Press (UP) for the 1942 Big Ten Conference football season. Dave Schreiner was the only unanimous pick with 18 points (representing all nine first-team picks); Julius Franks and Dick Wildung followed with 17 points each.1943 All-Big Nine Conference football team
The 1943 All-Big Nine Conference football team consists of American football players selected to the All-Big Nine Conference teams selected by the Associated Press (AP) and United Press (UP) for the 1943 Big Ten Conference football season.1943 Big Ten Conference football season
The 1943 Big Ten Conference football season was the 48th season of college football played by the member schools of the Big Ten Conference (also known as the Western Conference) and was a part of the 1943 college football season.
The 1943 Purdue Boilermakers football team compiled a perfect 9–0 record, tied for the Big Ten championship, led the conference in scoring defense (6.1 points per game), and were ranked No. 5 in the final AP Poll. Guard Alex Agase was a consensus first-team pick on the 1943 College Football All-America Team. Another guard, Dick Barwegen, received the team's most valuable player award.
Michigan, under head coach Fritz Crisler, compiled an 8–1, tied with Purdue for the conference championship, led the conference in scoring offense (33.6 points per game), and was ranked No. 3 in the final AP Poll. The team's sole loss was to consensus national champion Notre Dame. Bill Daley was a consensus first-team All-American and finished seventh in the voting for the Heisman Trophy. Bob Wiese received the team's most valuable player award.
Northwestern, under head coach Pappy Waldorf, compiled a 6–2 record and was ranked No. 9 in the final AP Poll. Quarterback Otto Graham received the Chicago Tribune Silver Football trophy as the most valuable player in the Big Ten. Northwestern's two losses were to No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 3 Michigan.1945 All-Big Ten Conference football team
The 1945 All-Big Ten Conference football team consists of American football players selected to the All-Big Ten Conference teams selected by the Associated Press (AP) and United Press (UP) for the 1945 Big Ten Conference football season. The UP released the point total for each player in its polling; each player's UP point total is listed below.1945 Big Ten Conference football season
The 1945 Big Ten Conference football season was the 50th season of college football played by the member schools of the Big Ten Conference (also known as the Western Conference) and was a part of the 1945 college football season.
The 1945 Indiana Hoosiers football team, under head coach Bo McMillin, compiled the only undefeated record and won the first Big Ten championship in the program's history. The Hoosiers compiled a 9–0–1 record, led the conference in both scoring offense (27.9 points per game) and scoring defense (5.6 points allowed per game), and finished the season ranked No. 4 in the final AP Poll. The lone blemish on the team's record was a 7-7 tie with Northwestern in the second game of the season. End Bob Ravensberg was a consensus first-team pick on the 1945 College Football All-America Team. Freshman halfback George Taliaferro rushed for 719 yards (the first African-American player to lead the Big Ten in rushing) and received second-team All-American honors.
Michigan, under head coach Fritz Crisler, compiled a 7–3 record and was ranked No. 6 in the final AP Poll. Center Harold Watts won the team's most valuable player award. Michigan's three losses were against No. 1 Army, No. 3 Navy, and No. 4 Indiana.1945 Indiana Hoosiers football team
The 1945 Indiana Hoosiers football team was an American football team that represented the Indiana University Bloomington in the 1945 Big Ten Conference football season, compiled the only undefeated record and won the first Big Ten Conference championship in the program's history. In their 12th year under head coach Bo McMillin, the Hoosiers compiled a 9–0–1 record (5–0–1 Big Ten), outscored their opponents by a combined total of 279 to 56, and finished the season ranked #4 in the final AP Poll. The lone blemish on the team's record was a 7-7 tie with Northwestern in the second game of the season.Head coach Bo McMillin was selected as the Coach of the Year by his fellow college football coaches. Four Hoosier players also received first-team honors on either the 1945 All-America Team or the 1945 All-Big Ten Conference football team. End Bob Ravensberg was a consensus first-team All-American, while fullback Pete Pihos received first-team All-American honors from Yank, the Army Weekly. Freshman halfback George Taliaferro rushed for 719 yards (the first African-American player to lead the Big Ten in rushing) and received second-team All-American honors. Pihos, Taliaferro, and end Ted Kluszewski also received first-team All-Big Ten honors. Pihos, Taliaferro, and coach McMilllin were later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Quarterback Ben Raimondi led the team in passing, completing 35 of 83 passes for 593 yards and 10 touchdowns with three interceptions. Mel Groomes was the team's leading receiver with 12 catches for 223 yards. In 1948, Groomes became the first African-American player to sign with the Detroit Lions.1945 Philadelphia Eagles season
The 1945 Philadelphia Eagles season was their 13th in the league. The team failed to improve on their previous output of 7–1–2, losing three games. The team failed to qualify for the playoffs for the 13th consecutive season.1946 All-Big Nine Conference football team
The 1946 All-Big Nine Conference football team consists of American football players selected to the All-Big Ten Conference teams selected by the Associated Press (AP) and United Press (UP) for the 1946 Big Nine Conference football season. The top vote getters in the AP polling were Bob Chappuis and Warren Amling, who each received 17 out of 18 possible points.1946 Big Nine Conference football season
The 1946 Big Nine Conference football season was the 51st season of college football played by the member schools of the Big Nine Conference (also known as the Big Ten Conference and the Western Conference) and was a part of the 1946 college football season.
The 1946 Illinois Fighting Illini football team, under head coach Ray Eliot, won the Big Nine championship, compiled an 8–2 record, was ranked No. 5 in the final AP Poll, and defeated UCLA, 45–14, in the 1947 Rose Bowl. Illinois guard Alex Agase was a consensus first-team All-American and received the Chicago Tribune Silver Football trophy as the most valuable player in the conference.
Michigan, under head coach Fritz Crisler, compiled a 6-2-1 record, led the conference in both scoring offense (25.9 points per game) and scoring defense (8.1 points allowed per game), and was ranked No. 6 in the final AP Poll. The team's two losses came against No. 2 Army and No. 5 Illinois. Halfback Bob Chappuis received the team's most valuable player award.
Indiana, under head coach Bo McMillin, compiled a 6–3 record, finished third in the conference, and was ranked No. 20 in the final AP Poll. End Pete Pihos received the team's most valuable player award. Quarterback Ben Raimondi won first team All-Big Nine honors.1946 Indiana Hoosiers football team
The 1946 Indiana Hoosiers football team represented the Indiana Hoosiers in the 1946 Big Ten Conference football season. The Hoosiers played their home games at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Indiana. The team was coached by Bo McMillin, in his 13th year as head coach of the Hoosiers. Fullback Pete Pihos was named the team's most valuable player.1948 All-Pro Team
The 1948 All-Pro Team consisted of American football players who were chosen by various selectors for the All-Pro team for the 1948 football season. Teams were selected by, among others, the Associated Press (AP), the United Press (UP), The Sporting News, and the New York Daily News. The AP and Sporting News selections included players from the National Football League (NFL) and All-America Football Conference; the UP selections were limited to players from the NFL.1948 Philadelphia Eagles season
The 1948 Philadelphia Eagles season was the franchise's 16th season in the National Football League (NFL). The Eagles repeated as Eastern Division champions and returned to the NFL Championship game, this time defeating the Chicago Cardinals to win their first NFL title.1949 All-Pro Team
The 1949 All-Pro Team consisted of American football players chosen by various selectors for the All-Pro team of the National Football League (NFL) for the 1949 NFL season. Teams were selected by, among others, the Associated Press (AP), the United Press (UP), and the New York Daily News.1949 Philadelphia Eagles season
The 1949 Philadelphia Eagles season was the franchise's 17th season in the National Football League. The Eagles won their second-consecutive NFL championship.1953 All-Pro Team
The 1953 All-Pro Team consisted of American football players chosen by various selectors for the All-Pro team of the National Football League (NFL) for the 1953 NFL season. Teams were selected by, among others, the Associated Press (AP) (based on voting among 48 member paper sports writers and AP staffers), the United Press (UP), and the New York Daily News.1953 Philadelphia Eagles season
The 1953 Philadelphia Eagles season was their 21st in the league. The team improved on their previous output of 7–5, going 7–4–1. The team failed to qualify for the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.Indiana Hoosiers football
The Indiana Hoosiers football program represents Indiana University Bloomington in NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision college football and in the Big Ten Conference. The Hoosiers have played their home games at Memorial Stadium since 1960.
The team has won the Big Ten Championship twice, once in 1945 and again in 1967. The Hoosiers have appeared in eleven bowl games, including the 1968 Rose Bowl. Numerous Indiana players have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, including Zora Clevinger, Bill Ingram, Pete Pihos, George Taliaferro, John Tavener, and Anthony Thompson, who was also National Player of the Year in 1989.
The Hoosiers are currently coached by Tom Allen.List of National Football League annual receptions leaders
This is a list of National Football League players who have led the regular season in receptions each year.Richmond Rebels (Continental Football League)
The Richmond Rebels were a professional American football team based in Richmond, Virginia. They began play in 1964 as a member of the Atlantic Coast Football League. The Rebels became a charter member of the Continental Football League in 1965. The team consistently lost money for its owners, so after the 1966 CFL season the franchise was first put up for sale and then returned to the league. When new ownership could not be found the team's players were offered in a dispersal draft, putting an end to the franchise.
Pete Pihos—awards, championships, and honors