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Colonel Joe Thompson

Football ∙ Beaver Falls

 

 

 

 

Colonel Joe Thompson was outstanding at everything he attempted during the 48 years of his life. He came to the United States from Ireland in 1898 and entered Geneva College that year. He immediately became a basketball star and also participated in gymnastics and wrestling, but did not go out for football until 1900. He served as Geneva’s player-coach for three years, with his football teams compiling an amazing 27-2-3 record. Joe then went on to the University of Pittsburgh and was a football player there from 1904 to 1906, during which time the Panthers had a 26-6 record. He led Pitt to its first perfect season in 1904 when the Panthers won all ten games and surrendered only one touchdown. He was head grid coach at Pitt from 1908 to 1912, and his 1910 squad (that included freshman Hube Wagner) was unbeaten and unscored-on in nine games. He also coached football at Pittsburgh High School and Carnegie Tech and was Rochester High School’s first football coach. Joe found time to graduate from the Pitt Law School in 1909 and was admitted to the bar. He entered the Army in 1917 and became one of the most decorated heroes of World War I, including the Congressional Medal of Honor. After the war, he practiced law in Beaver Falls until his death in 1928 from ailments aggravated by war wounds. He was inducted into the National College Football Hall of Fame in 1971.