John Banaszak was the type of player David Dixon had in mind when he conceived the United States Football League.  A defensive tackle from Eastern Michigan, Banaszak had been a former member of the United States Marine Corps that had gone undrafted by the NFL in 1975.  But picked up by the world champion Pittsburgh Steelers, Banaszak went on to have a seven year career in the league, picking up three Super Bowl rings along the way as a member of the team's famed "Steel Curtain" defense.

Released by the Steelers on August 31, 1982, Banaszak thought his career in pro football was over when, after a 2-4-0 start, Michigan Panthers owner A. Alfred Taubman opened up his checkbook and picked up his phone, signing the 33-year old to a contract on April 19, 1983. Banaszak, along with fellow former Steeler teammate Ray Pinney, came on board to help propel the Panthers to a 10-2-0 record the rest of the team's inaugural season, and then on to the first USFL championship, defeating the Philadelphia Stars, 24-22.

Today, Banaszak lives in the Pittsburgh area, an assistant coach at Robert Morris University.  He also holds the distinction of being one of a truly select few:  the owner of both an NFL championship ring and a USFL championship ring.


Michigan Panthers

(shown above as coach at
Robert Morris University)


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