As the Super Bowl nears, sports writers all across America will dig deep into the bag of statistics and trivia. Amazing facts are shoveled about everywhere, to end up on si.com, sports blogs, newspapers, and as factoids during the game itself. I compiled a list of some amazing Steelers facts during this past Super Bowl. My edited list follows. But first… some Steeler history:
The Pittsburgh Steelers were founded as the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 8, 1933, by Art Rooney. The rights to the team cost him $2,500, which is around $40,000 in 2007 dollars.
According to football legend, Rooney purchased the team using money he had won at the Saratoga race track. What actually happened is that Rooney bought the team in 1933 using money he already had, but in 1936 he did win a longshot parlay bet at Saratoga that netted him almost $160,000 ($2,370,300 in 2007 dollars). Rooney did use most of this money to improve the team, especially by hiring coach Joe Bach. In fact, Rooney’s winnings from that day in Saratoga funded the team exclusively until 1941.
In that year, the Steelers were involved in one of the strangest ownership moves in NFL history. Rooney sold the Steelers to NYC playboy Alex Thompson. Since there was already a team in New York City, Thompson wanted to move the Steelers to Boston, the largest city close to New York without an NFL team. As the Steelers sale was being finalized, Philadelphia Eagles owner Bert Bell began having severe financial troubles. So Rooney agreed to buy 70% of the Eagles using the proceeds from the Steelers sale. Since Philadelphia is much closer to New York than Boston, when Thompson found out about the Rooney-Bell deal, he suggested that the two switch sides. So the Rooney-owned Eagles moved to Pittsburgh and the Thompson-owned Steelers moved to Philadelphia, both owners kept their original team names, and everyone was happy. Bell would later become NFL commissioner, a job that required him to divest myself from the team, so Rooney convinced Barney McGuinley, his sister’s father in law, to buy out Bell’s shares.
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Since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, the Steelers have posted the best record in professional football. The Steelers have won the most total games, won the most divisional titles, earned the best winning percentage (including every expansion team), earned the most All-Pro nominations, reached the playoffs 24 times, won their division 19 times, played in 14 AFC championship games, and won six of seven Super Bowls. They are also 2nd overall in playoff wins and season game wins.
In the past 10 years, the Pittsburgh Steelers are an amazing 153-1-1 when leading a game by at least 11 points.
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