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Steelers by the decade: 1940s

Posted Jun 26, 2014

A decade-by-decade look at the Pittsburgh Steelers.

1940s

In 1940 Rooney changed the team name to the Pittsburgh Steelers, representing the heritage of Pittsburgh. The first winning record in the organization’s history came in 1942 when head coach Walt Kiesling led the Steelers to a 7-4 finish with the league-leading rushing of rookie Bill Dudley.

But the next year Dudley joined the Armed Forces along with many other NFL players as the nation went to war. With rosters depleted, Rooney merged the Steelers with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1943 (Phil-Pitt “Steagles”) and with the Chicago Cardinals (Card-Pitt) in 1944. Rooney hired legendary Pitt coach Jock Sutherland in 1946, and Dudley returned from the war to earn NFL MVP honors, leading the league in rushing, interceptions, and punt returns.

Today, Dudley is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Sutherland led the 1947 Steelers to an 8-4 record and a share of the Eastern division title, but they lost their first- ever postseason game, 21-0, to Philadelphia. Sutherland died suddenly the following spring while on a scouting trip.

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