Santoni Submitted Pittsburgh Steelers Name To Contest in 1940

Published on April 18th, 2024 12:22 pm EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

How the name Pittsburgh Steelers came about. If we choose the name that you submit, you'll win season's tickets for a year!

This was the pitch that Pittsburgh's NFL team had for their naming content in 1940.

At the time, Pittsburgh's NFL team was called the "Pittsburgh Pirates" - the same as the Major League Baseball team.

Pittsburgh's NFL team wanted their own identity, so they launched a contest with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to find a new name.

The winning submission would win season's tickets for a year.


Joe Santoni was a young 19-year old steel worker in 1940.

He was also a big fan of the Pittsburgh sports franchises, including the Pittsburgh Pirates of the NFL.

At the time, Santoni worked for a company called Pittsburgh Steel.

Steel was obviously a big part of Pittsburgh's economic backbone, so Santoni had an idea:

Why not call them the Pittsburgh Steelers?


The owner of the Pittsburgh NFL team at the time, Art Rooney, Sr., loved the name, and declared Santoni the winner.

Santoni received a year's worth of season's tickets as his prize, and he continued to own season's tickets until the day he died.

Santoni ended up opening Santoni's Restaurant, which was crammed with Steelers memorabilia.

One of Santoni's most prized possessions was a signed photo from Art Rooney Sr., which he had up in his house.

For people who didn't believe that Santoni had named the team, this was his proof.

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