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John "Blood" McNally

John 'Blood' McNally
  • Hall of Fame 1963
  • Hall of Honor 2017

Johnny 'Blood' McNally played four seasons in Pittsburgh, including three when he was a player-coach, during a time when the team was known as the Pittsburgh Pirates.

He was considered a vagabond and one of the most colorful players of his time, adopting the name Blood from the movie, 'Blood and Sand,' that starred Rudolph Valentino. He used it not as a nickname, but an alias to forgo his final year of eligibility at St. John's College and play pro ball with the East 26th Street Liberties of Minneapolis.

He played 14 seasons with five different teams, and had two stints in Pittsburgh. He played in 1934 and then returned to finish out his career from 1937-39. In a day when players were asked to do it all, he did. He was one of the best wide receivers in the NFL during his time, but also played running back, could punt and also be used as quarterback. Oh yeah, and he also played defense.

"They pay me to score touchdowns," he was quoted as saying. "The swagger I give 'em for free."

He played for the Green Bay Packers where he helped lead the team to three straight NFL Championships (1929-31) and a fourth in a second stint with the team in 1936.

In his first game back in Pittsburgh in 1937 he returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown, but the team struggled during his years with just a 7-25-1 record.

"Some people have told me I'm really a frustrated priest," he once said. "A psychiatrist told my mother I should have been an actor. But I found my niche in football. I have no doubt that's where I belong."

He died in 1985 at the age of 81.