Neale as Washington & Jefferson football coach, c. 1922
|Born||November 5, 1891|
Parkersburg, West Virginia
|Died||November 2, 1973 (aged 81)|
Lake Worth, Florida
|c. 1913||West Virginia Wesleyan|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1916–1917||West Virginia Wesleyan|
|1921–1922||Washington & Jefferson|
|Head coaching record|
|Overall||82–54–11 (college football)|
26–11 (college basketball)
80–73–2 (college baseball)
|Tournaments||3–1 (NFL playoffs)|
|Accomplishments and honors|
|2 Ohio League (1917, 1918)|
2 NFL (1948, 1949)
|Pro Football Hall of Fame (1969)|
Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Fame (1987)
|College Football Hall of Fame|
Inducted in 1967 (profile)
|Born: November 5, 1891|
Parkersburg, West Virginia
|Died: November 2, 1973 (aged 81)|
Lake Worth, Florida
|April 12, 1916, for the Cincinnati Reds|
|Last MLB appearance|
|June 13, 1924, for the Cincinnati Reds|
|Runs batted in||200|
|Career highlights and awards|
Early life and playing career
Neale was born in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Although writers eventually assumed that Neale got his nickname, "Greasy", from his elusiveness on the football field, it actually arose during his youth, from a name-calling joust with a friend.
He played Major League Baseball as an outfielder with the Cincinnati Reds between 1916 and 1924 and briefly with the Philadelphia Phillies for part of the 1921 season. Neale was the starting right fielder for the 1919 Cincinnati Reds. He batted .357 in the 1919 World Series and led the Reds with ten hits in their eight-game series win over the scandalous White Sox.
Neale spent all but 22 games of his baseball career with the Cincinnati Reds. He had a career batting average of .259 with 8 home runs, 200 RBI and 139 stolen bases, and finished in the top ten in stolen bases in the National League four times. When football season came around, often he would leave baseball and fulfill his football duties (albeit playing about 90% of a baseball season most years, with the exception of 1919 when he played the entire season, including the 1919 World Series).
Neale also played professional football in the Ohio League with the Canton Bulldogs in 1917, the Dayton Triangles in 1918, and the Massillon Tigers in 1919. He starred as an end on Jim Thorpe's pre-World War I Canton Bulldogs as well as the Dayton Triangles in 1918 and Massillon Tigers in 1919. He coached the Triangles in 1918.
Coaching in college
Neale began his coaching career while still a professional player. He served as the head football coach at Muskingum College (1915), West Virginia Wesleyan College (1916–1917), Marietta College (1919–1920), Washington & Jefferson College (1921–1922), the University of Virginia (1923–1928), and West Virginia University (1931–1933), compiling a career college football record of 82–54–11. He coached basketball for two seasons at Marietta (1919–1921) as well, amassing a record of 26–11. He also served as an assistant football coach at Yale Bulldogs football for seven seasons (1934–1940).
At Washington & Jefferson, he led his 1921 squad to the Rose Bowl, where the Presidents played the California Golden Bears to a scoreless tie. At Virginia, Neale was also the head baseball coach from 1923 to 1929, tallying a mark of 80–73–2.
Neale later coached the independent professional Ironton Tanks with his legendary style, flair and winning ways. He and Tanks quarterback Glenn Presnell claimed victories against the NFL's second place New York Giants and third place Chicago Bears in 1930. The team folded in 1931.
Coaching in the pros
Neale moved to the National Football League (NFL), serving as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles from 1941 to 1950. Although it took Neale a while to pull together the needed talent to build a winning team, once he had the right ingredients, they stayed among the league's best for nearly a decade. From 1944 through 1949, Neale's Eagles finished second three times and in first place three times. The Eagles won the NFL Championship in 1948 and again in 1949, and became the first team to win back-to-back titles since the 1940-41 Chicago Bears by shutting out their opponents, beating the Chicago Cardinals 7–0 in the snow ridden 1948 NFL Championship Game and the Los Angeles Rams 14–0 in the 1949 NFL Championship Game in a driving rain storm. It was the last championship for the Eagles until 1960. His offense was led by the passing of quarterback Tommy Thompson, the pass catching of future Hall of Fame end Pete Pihos, and the running of another Hall of Famer, Steve Van Buren. He tallied a mark of 66–44–5 including playoff games in his ten seasons with the club. Neale was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1967 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1969. Both inductions recognized his coaching career.
Neale died in Florida at the age of 81 and is buried at Parkersburg Memorial Gardens in West Virginia.
Head coaching record
|Muskingum Fighting Muskies () (1915)|
|West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcats (Independent) (1916–1917)|
|1916||West Virginia Wesleyan||5–6|
|1917||West Virginia Wesleyan||5–2|
|West Virginia Wesleyan:||10–8|
|Marietta Pioneers () (1919–1920)|
|Washington & Jefferson Presidents (Independent) (1921–1922)|
|1921||Washington & Jefferson||10–0–1||T Rose|
|1922||Washington & Jefferson||6–3–1|
|Washington & Jefferson:||16–3–2|
|Virginia Cavaliers (Southern Conference) (1923–1928)|
|West Virginia Mountaineers (Independent) (1931–1933)|
|Won||Lost||Ties||Win %||Finish||Won||Lost||Win %||Result|
|PHI||1941||2||8||1||.227||4th in NFL Eastern||–||–||–||–|
|PHI||1942||2||9||0||.182||5th in NFL Eastern||–||–||–||–|
|PHI-PIT||1943||5||4||1||.550||3rd in NFL Eastern||–||–||–||–|
|PHI||1944||7||1||2||.800||2nd in NFL Eastern||–||–||–||–|
|PHI||1945||7||3||0||.700||2nd in NFL Eastern||–||–||–||–|
|PHI||1946||6||5||0||.545||2nd in NFL Eastern||–||–||–||–|
|PHI||1947||8||4||0||.667||1st in NFL Eastern||1||1||.500||Lost to Chicago Cardinals in NFL Championship|
|PHI||1948||9||2||1||.792||1st in NFL Eastern||1||0||1.000||Won NFL Championship|
|PHI||1949||11||1||0||.917||1st in NFL Eastern||1||0||1.000||Won NFL Championship|
|PHI||1950||6||6||0||.500||3rd in NFL Eastern||–||–||–||–|
- R. L. Cooke coached the first game of the season.
- PFRA Research. "1918: A War Year" (PDF). Coffin Corner. Professional Football Researchers Association: 1–3. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 11, 2012.
- Jim Campbell (1995). "John Alexander: Pro Football Pioneer" (PDF). Coffin Corner. Professional Football Researchers Association. 16 (2): 1–9. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 6, 2010.