Pete Pihos


PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Pete Pihos, a Hall of Fame receiver who helped the Philadelphia Eagles to a pair of NFL championships, has died. He was 87.

The team said Pihos died early Tuesday at a nursing home in Winston-Salem, N.C., after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease.

Pihos was a member of the Philadelphia teams that captured consecutive championships starting in 1948. He made the game-winning catch in the 1949 game against the Rams.

Pihos finished his nine-year career with 373 catches for 6,519 yards and 61 touchdowns. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1970.

Pihos played with the Eagles from 1947-55 after a stellar college career at Indiana. He was a stalwart on both sides of the ball at tight end and defensive end and missed just one game in nine NFL seasons.

A six-time Pro Bowl selection, Pihos was nicknamed "The Golden Greek." He lacked blazing receiver speed, but relied on pirouettes and pivots to break free from would-be tacklers and was a punishing runner after the catch.

"I try to get position on my opponent without him knowing it," the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Pihos told The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1955. "I always watch my opponent's feet. When he crosses them or makes a definite commitment, that's when I make my move. I'll do whatever maneuvering necessary to reach the spot where the pass is to come."

Pihos still ranks among the team leaders in a number of offensive categories with the Eagles. He's third in catches behind Harold Carmichael and Pete Retzlaff; fourth in touchdowns after Carmichael, Steve Van Buren and Tommy McDonald; and 10th in all-time scoring with 378 points. He was selected to the franchise's 75th anniversary team.

A fifth-round draft pick by the Eagles in 1945, Pihos didn't start his NFL career until 1947 because his college career was interrupted by World War II, when he served in the military under Gen. George Patton.

Pihos' im pact on the Eagles' offense and defense was immediate. Philadelphia reached its first championship game in his rookie season, losing 28-21 to the Chicago Cardinals.

The tandem of the sure-handed Pihos and Van Buren, a running back and fellow Hall of Famer, gave the Eagles a powerful offense, and Philadelphia claimed consecutive NFL championships in 1948 and '49.

Philadelphia beat the Cardinals 7-0 in a blizzard in the '48 title game to claim its first NFL title.

In the '49 title game, Pihos caught the eventual game-winning 31-yard touchdown pass from Tommy Thompson, and the Eagles beat the Los Angeles Rams 14-0 to become the first team to win back-to-back NFL championships in shutouts.

Eagles coaches later decided to have Pihos concentrate on offense when the platoon system was instituted. But when the Eagles needed help on defense in the 1952 season, Pihos stepped in and was an All-Pro at defensive end.

Pihos' last three NFL seasons were his mos t productive. In 1953, he had career highs in receptions (63) and yards (1,049) and scored 10 touchdowns.

At Indiana, Pihos was a versatile star during the 1942, '43, '45 and '46 seasons. He led the Hoosiers in receiving in 1942 and '43 and in rushing in 1946. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

As a member of the Army, Pihos served 14 months in Europe during World War II. He told the Pro Football Hall of Fame that he had vivid memories of serving under Patton, whom he called "a tough son-of-a-gun."

A native of Orlando, Fla., Pihos is survived by his ex-wife, Donna Pihos, who has been his caretaker for the past 12 years; their daughter, Melissa Pihos; and children from a previous marriage: son Peter Pihos Jr., daughters Nikki Pihos Walker and Lisa-Anne Pihos Mann, and stepson John Wesley Poole.

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press

Guest Book

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Pete Jr., Donna, and family, I am Burrel "Bunky" Whitley who played for Pete in the Atlantic Coast Professional League with the Hammonton (NJ) Bakers. He was a hard nosed good man who taught me how to be a real man. I used to take care of Pete Jr. when I was on the bench waiting for the defense to get us the ball back. Jr. would climb all over me just wanting to play and be a kid. We also just lost Jackie Rehman, one of our other running backs. Coach Pihos will always be in my...

Lisa, Donna, Melissa, Nikki, Wes, Peter -- My thoughts are with you. I'll never forget him!

one of the best football players ever .in richmond va the guys usd to call him ''two way pete'my condolences to his family and friends..god bless. tom in ky

Dear Donna,
I am Franklin Radican who was coached by Pete at The National Agricultural College,--Now Delaware Valley College. Pretr Jr in the fall of 1956 you spent a night in my dormatory room with several other football players you were just a little guy, and you dad asked if you could spend the night with us. I never forgot coach Pihos he changed me so much buy having confidence in me Coach Pihos left after his third season, and it was never the same.God Bless Him !
Franklin M...

I worked at the berwyn acme in1954.I remember when you and pete would come in shopping. I was seventeen then and a big eagles fan.
you and pete were very inpressive.Sorry for your loss.

Very soon, all sorrow will be a thing of the past. Sickness and death will be gone forever. I hope God's promises for the future will give you comfort. Please accept my condolences!!!

I remember his football card - Green Eagles jersey, high leg kick, two feet off the ground. An awesome image.

Sept 15 th 1950 ... I remember it like it was yesterday. The BROWNS played the returning champs Eagles in thier very first NFL game.

Those were the days when real men played the game. No big paydays (The great Otto Graham made $15,000 that year) played in rain and snow etc, etc.

I recall Pete that night... great ball player for the Eagles...

It was a new era in football ... 35 - 10 BROWNS. The cost of a seat ? $ 3.75.

Pete, Jr. I remember your dad fondly from my trips to Richmond with you. I know you will miss him tremendously. You and your family are in my prayers.