Pete Pihos; helped Eagles win 2 NFL championships

Associated Press / August 17, 2011

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PHILADELPHIA - Pete Pihos, a Hall of Fame receiver who helped the Philadelphia Eagles win two straight NFL championships in the 1940s, died yesterday at a nursing home in Winston-Salem, N.C., after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, the team said. He was 87.

Mr. Pihos played with the Eagles from 1947-55. He was on the team that captured the title in 1948, and he made the winning catch in the 1949 championship game against the Rams.

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

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, Mr. Pihos 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 Mr. Pihos said 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.’’

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

A fifth-round draft pick by the Eagles in 1945, Mr. Pihos did not start his NFL career until 1947 because of World War II, when he served in the US Army under General George S. Patton.

In the ’49 title game, Mr. Pihos caught the game-winning 31-yard touchdown pass from Tommy Thompson, and the Eagles beat the Los Angeles Rams 14-0.

At Indiana, Mr. Pihos led the Hoosiers in receiving in 1942 and ’43 and rushing in ’46. He is in college football’s Hall of Fame.