Walt Kiesling

Walt Kiesling
Date of birth (1903-05-27)May 27, 1903
Place of birth Saint Paul, Minnesota
Date of death March 2, 1962(1962-03-02) (aged 58)
Place of death Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Career information
Position(s) Guard, tackle
Height 6 ft 2 in (188 cm)
Weight 249 lb (113 kg)
College St. Thomas (MN)
High school Cretin-Derham Hall (MN)
Career history
As coach
1939 Pittsburgh Pirates
1940–1942 Pittsburgh Steelers
1943 Phila.-Pitt "Steagles" (co-coach)
1944 "Card-Pitt" (co-coach)
1954–1956 Pittsburgh Steelers
As player
1926–1927 Duluth Eskimos
1928 Pottsville Maroons
1929–1933 Chicago Cardinals
1934 Chicago Bears
1935–1936 Green Bay Packers
1937–1938 Pittsburgh Pirates
Career highlights and awards
Career stats

Walter Andrew Kiesling (May 27, 1903 – March 2, 1962) was an American football player and coach.[1][2]

Playing career

A native of Saint Paul, Minnesota, Kiesling played both offensive and defensive line at the University of St. Thomas. In his professional career he played for the Duluth Eskimos, Pottsville Maroons, Chicago Cardinals, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Coaching career

Keisling's coaching career in the National Football League was spent exclusively with the Steelers. He was head coach for most of the six seasons from 1939 to 1944, and came back for a second stint from 1954 to 1956. In 1943 and 1944 he split head coaching duties—with Greasy Neale when the Steelers merged with the Philadelphia Eagles (to form the "Steagles") in 1943 and then with Phil Handler when the Steelers merged with the Chicago Cardinals the following season.[3] A 1939 Official Program for Pittsburgh Pirates Intra-Squad Game lists Keisling as "Asst. Coach" and Johny Blood (McNally) as "Coach".

Kiesling's overall record at Pittsburgh was 30-55-5. He kept the franchise competitive, but only put together two winning seasons.

Perhaps the biggest blunder in Steelers history is attributed to Kiesling, when as head coach he benched a young Pittsburgh born-and-bred Johnny Unitas through an entire training camp before cutting him, allowing the Baltimore Colts to acquire his rights. However, Kiesling had a reputation for coaching dated techniques and strategies and an intractable personality that pushed away numerous talented players. This occurred particularly during the difficult World War II merger years when he co-coached teams composed of the Eagles-Steelers and Cardinals-Steelers. College talent with better coaching and veterans returning to play football found his methods and attitude intolerable.


Kiesling was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1966.


  1. Livingston, Pat (March 2, 1962). "Walt Kiesling of Steelers dies". Pittsburgh Press. p. 30.
  2. "Pro grid circles mourn Kiesling". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. March 3, 1962. p. 13.
  3. "Steelers All-Time Roster" (PDF). Pittsburgh Steelers. Retrieved 2009-02-19.
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