Sunday, February 3, 2008

Former Duquesne Great Al DeMao Dies

CLK posted this on the Duquesne Forum and I wanted to pass it along to Dukes Court readers.

"Duquesne has lost one of its all time greats. Duquesne Hall Of Famer Al DeMao passed away yesterday. Most people won't recognize the name, but he was one of Duquesne's greatest football players ever, and one of the kindest persons you would ever meet. Al played football for Duquesne from 1939 - 1942 and became an All American. The only Duquesne loss during the three years DeMao played varsity football was to Ole Miss. DeMao actually joined the U.S. Navy before his Duquesne graduation ceremony when all resources turned to the war effort. He finally received his diploma from Duquesne after returning to Pittsburgh following the war.

Future Hall of Fame coaching legend Paul 'Bear' Bryant scouted and signed DeMao to a Redskins contract. DeMao's sgning bonus was $250, a paltry sum when compared to today's extraordinary bonus figures. The Redskins had drafted DeMao four years earlier, but the organization thought the wait was worth it because the player and the organization made what has proven to be a perfect match. DeMao joined the Redskins in 1945 at mid-season, just in time for an eventual playoff matchup with the Cleveland Rams. The Rams won a 15-14 squeaker and then moved to Los Angeles. For seven seasons, DeMao was a two-way player at center and linebacker and served as captain for seven years. He snapped to one of the NFL's all-time greats, Sammy Baugh. DeMao had hoped to retire from Washington in 1952 after he was named to the Pro Bowl, but was persuaded to return for 1953. He was honored with an "Al DeMao Day'' at Griffith Stadium in Nov. 1952, where he received a boatload of presents and an automobile.

In 2002 Al DeMao was honored as one of the top 70 Washington Redskins players of all time. The "70 Greatest Redskins'' were selected by a Blue Ribbon Committee that was headed by retired CNN anchor Bernard Shaw. The committee took votes from fans and hundreds of present and former players were considered. Other panel members included U.S. Senator George Allen (R-Va.), son of the former Redskins coach, former stadium announcer Phil Hochberg and WRC-TV sports director George Michael.

Al was a relative of mine and will be missed by all who knew him. When I was a little boy growing up I remember seeing his Duquesne ring. Even with all his accomplishments he still wore the ring proudly on his hand with fingers twisted from years in the NFL trenches. I remember him as a soft spoken man who loved God, and loved and honored his family. I honestly never remember him ever having a harsh word toward any one. He truly was an All American."

People sometimes forget that Duquesne at one time was a top tier football school, and Al DeMao is a part of that tradition.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the article you wrote - he was my uncle and I miss him very much. Your kinds words were very touching.


Anonymous said...

Marianne please e-mail me at


Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting the great article. Al was my Uncle, it is so nice being able to read such nice things about him.
May God Give Vi, his beloved wife the strenght that she will need at this time of her loss.

God Bless,
Matt Colaianni
Saltsburg, PA