Lisa Stover is a part-time writer that has been published on numerous sites. She hails from Pittsburgh, PA.
This article is about Aliquippa, PA, and the many famous NFL football players that come from there. But first, let's talk about this extraordinary little town.
Aliquippa, PA, is located about 29 miles outside of the much larger city of Pittsburgh. It's a fairly small town/city. In the not-so-distant past, Quip, the nickname given to the city by the locals, was a thriving community. That ended, however, in the early 1980s when the steel mills started moving away. With the closing of the mills, people found multiple generations of their families out of work; up until then, grandfathers, fathers, and sons worked side by side in these mills.
With no other jobs to be found, most people moved away from the area to find work elsewhere. This caused the city’s population to drop drastically. Those who stayed found themselves struggling just to feed their families. This hasn't changed. The struggle to eat and survive is still strong in the city of Aliquippa.
The City Today
The city of today is very different from the one my grandparents knew and loved. Everything is closed downtown, and the buildings are falling apart. Homes are in disrepair. The schools are severely behind academically, and there are no jobs. The city oozes a sense of hopelessness.
Children here do not have many chances; they are more likely to end up on welfare, in jail, or dead than they are to achieve any real success in a career. For this reason, the young aspire to become drug dealers or pro athletes, and perhaps Aliquippa, PA, is the only place in the world where the odds look good in both cases.
According to Neighborhood Scout, Aliquippa, PA, has one of the highest violent crime rates in the nation, regardless of city size. Think of how small of a city Aliquippa truly is, and then realize that this city is up there in terms of violent crimes with some of the biggest cities in the nation. The city holds a population of only under 10,000 people. According to the FBI, your chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime in Aliquippa, PA, is 1 in 157.
As I write this, we are nearing the end of 2016, and this city has already seen numerous murders, robberies, assaults, drug cases, and the list goes on and on.
Proud Residents and a Pro Football Factory
This is not to put down the people of this city. Quips are tough-skinned and resilient people. When there is no way, they will make one. And the love they have for their city is unparalleled. You will never hear someone ashamed to say they are from Aliquippa. They will speak it with a sense of pride. And they do have a reason to speak of their home with pride. Aliquippa, PA, churns out NFL players like a pro football factory.
Players From Aliquippa
In the NFL, there are currently three players from Aliquippa, PA:
- Darrelle Revis of the New York Jets
- Jonathan Baldwin of the Kansas City Chiefs
- Tommie Campbell of the Tennessee Titans
That is simply amazing to have three NFL players come from the same desolate city, but that’s not even the beginning. The list of NFL players from the city is long and includes some of the greatest. The following players all grew up in the tough streets of Aliquippa:
- Tony Dorsett
- Sean Gilbert
- Ty Law
- Carmine DePascal
- Anthony Dorsett Jr.
- Charles Fisher
- Josh Lay
- Curt Singer
- Paul Posluszny
- Bob Liggett
- Willie Walker
Frank Gnup, who played in the Canadian league, also grew up in the same city.
Famous Coaches From Quip
Mike Ditka has had an amazing career in the NFL. Mike Ditka learned the game in Aliquippa and might be one of the most famous of the "Fighting Quips" as of yet. Ditka won an NFL title as a player, an assistant coach, and as a head coach. There is only one other person who has done this in the history of the NFL.
Richard Mann is the wide receivers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. If you know football, then you know that is a huge accomplishment. Currently, the Steelers hold the record for the most Super Bowl wins in the NFL. He was once a "Fighting Quip" as well.
Those are just two examples of the impact individuals from the city have made on the NFL. But, the question is how?
The City and the NFL
How is it possible that a poverty-stricken city keeps producing quality NFL players? Mark Yaros (36), a native of Quip, gives this answer: “Aliquippa has heart.”
During Yaros’ high school career in Aliquippa, he played basketball, football, ran track, and started his own hockey team. He says:
Kids in Aliquippa aren’t playing football just for fun. They are playing for their lives, for a way out. Quip is a tough place to grow up; you learn early on to stand your ground and to protect what is yours, or it will be taken away from you. These kids don’t have a lot, most have nothing to look forward to but football, so they put all of their pride into that game, and they’ll be damned if they let you take their pride from them. Quip doesn’t play to win; they play to demolish your entire team.
The whole community takes football seriously, the coaches, the players, and the parents. If you don’t show up for practice, the coach will show up at your mother’s house looking for you.
A Community That's Serious About Football
Yaros experienced precisely that. He was playing other sports and grew tired of adding football practice to that, so he stopped going. He wanted to quit the team. His coach showed up at his mother’s house, pleading with her to talk her son into coming back. According to Yaros:
That’s just the way it is here; the coaches become like family. They really want you to succeed and will go out of their way to help you. It's serious, I’ve seen 18-year-old grown men cry after they lost a game, and I dare you to laugh. These are some of the hardest men you wouldn’t want to meet, and they are crying about a football game.
When I ask Yaros to explain a typical football practice to me, he says one word, “Running.”
The coaches told us if we can outrun our opponent, then we got it; we‘re good. If you can’t catch, but you can run fast as hell then you’re getting on the team. Everything else can be taught. But, if you got speed on you, well that’s something that you are or aren’t. It can't be taught to you.
On game nights, the stadiums are packed. You have to agree with Yaros; these kids play with a ‘you’re not taking this away from me’ type of attitude. From start to finish, they are giving it their all, and then some. It seems the whole community comes out to support their team, and perhaps the only place in Aliquippa where you don’t see the violence the city is famous for is here in these stadiums, during the games.
A Tough Town With Tougher People
Quip is a very tough town to grow up in, but the people here are tougher. The only question left is, who will be the next NFL star from Aliquippa, PA?
Jody Creese and Elizabeth McCurdy on June 06, 2020:
Don’t forget Bill Koman of Hopewell High School, class of 1952 who went on to play for Saint Louis Cardinals.
Dorian Jackson on February 28, 2020:
Love this article
Alton "Babe" Hudson. on January 17, 2020:
It was a great town and I still miss it so much. I have nothing but fond memories of the town and the people, including Hopewell!
Eugene Ludwico on October 25, 2019:
Lets not forget Doc Medich And Pecky Suder both fair baseball players in their day. How and about Henry Mancini. pretty well known dud.
Patricia Starr on September 01, 2019:
Went to high school with Mike Ditka and my stepbrother B. Ross was the coach for Tony Dorset. I'm very proud to know them both. especially Mike. Aliquippa certainly deserves title " Fighting Quips"
Forrest Tim Smith from PLEASANTON CA on June 12, 2019:
I love pictures of the old AHS Stadium aka "The Pit" with the giant floodlight towers that were put up in 1938 by my father and his gang of iron-workers, a job he took to pay for my upcoming birth. When I got to high school in '52, my uncle was the assistant principal (he also wrote "Wave, Red and Black," the alma mater) and he came to me one day in study hall and said "You have your choice. Football or band." I joined the band. Bad choice. I should've played football. Would have been an honor to have played beside Ditka, who graduated a year behind me.
Gordo Hill on May 02, 2019:
Jeanne Miller Way on October 05, 2018:
My grandfather, Dr John L Miller, was the team doctor for the Aliquippa football team for many years. I'm sure he was never paid, he loved they kids and football. He took Mike Ditka and other Aliquippa football players to University of Pittsburgh football games for years hoping they would choose Pitt. He introduced some of them to Pitt coaches. Mike said on national TV a few years ago, "Doc Miller patched me up many times back in high school" My grandfather loved Aliquippa so much. He practiced medicine for 65 years and delivered hundreds of babies including Pistol Pete Maravich. He moved to West Aliquippa as a young doctor way back in 1915. His son, my dad, John "Tudy" Miller was a State Senator from 1950 until 1968. Dr Miller died in 1971 when I was 18. Both of them truly loved Aliquippa. I miss them both so much. Jeanne Miller Way, Largo, Florida firstname.lastname@example.org
willy hobbs on September 16, 2018:
Rember pistol pete maravich the pro basketball player. He was there for a while,
Tom on March 22, 2018:
Ernie Pitts from Aliquippa
irishred329 on March 05, 2018:
Mike Ditka graduated from Aliquippa in 1957.
Swannie on March 05, 2018:
Danny Rains Bears 85 SB CHAMPS Hopewell 73
Robert Oros on March 04, 2018:
Don’t forget Tom Sakal. Minnesota Vikings. Class of 64 AHS. Played against Butler’s Terry Hanratty and the Saul brothers.
James Pindilli on March 04, 2018:
Tony Dorsett, Paul Posluszny and Curt Singer are from Hopewell
Tom morelli on March 04, 2018:
I grew up there and played for the Quips, Best place ever , miss it every day. Go Quips !
joe koss on September 17, 2017:
does anyone remember jackie cleminson, quarter back when ditka played,where is jackie now/.
Sharon on June 27, 2017:
Tony Dorsett also went to Hopewell High School, not Aliquippa. Graduated in 1973, one year ahead of me. Both schools have an Aliquippa mailing address as Hopewell did not have its own post office.
I was born there on June 26, 2017:
Donnya on January 23, 2017:
This was very very interesting.
hype on December 21, 2016:
dan short played for ny giants as a def . back also from quiptown!!!
Tom on December 07, 2016:
You forgot Bill Koman from Hopewell who played guard for the St. Louis cardinals for 11 seasons.
Noel E Wilson on October 30, 2016:
I Travel a lot and I meet a lot of people they ask me where is Aliquippa I always say about 30 miles outside Pittsburgh I call Aliquippa The NFL Capitol Of The World lol Abd start naming
Lisa Stover (author) from Pittsburgh PA on October 05, 2016:
This article is not a complete list of players. Also I am aware that not all players attended Aliquippa high school, they went to Hopewell. But, this article is about players who are from Aliquippa PA. As us locals know Hopewell has an Aliquippa mailing address which does in fact mean that the players from Hopewell are players who came from Aliquippa PA.
Philip on February 05, 2016:
There are other Aliquippa NFL players we tend to forget . Bob Liggett-Kansas City Chiefs. John Tazel- San Diego Chargers ?. Richard Mann-Cleveland Browns?. All Aliquippa High grads. In not sure but Joe Catroppa might have played also.
Russell Meade on February 05, 2016:
How does everyone forget Mike Dikta? Big time football player at Aliquippa High, 1958 or 59. First team All-American at Univ. Pittsburgh. All Pro Tight End for Chicago Bears. Hall of Fame Football Player and Coach. No small feats here.
Lorraine Gilbert on August 29, 2015:
Tony Dorsett and Curt Singer did not graduate from Aliquippa High School, they graduated from Hopewell High School which actually is an Aliquippa address, but everyone never gives Hopewell the credit. Just once I would love for people today they went to Hopewell High School!
mike roberts on October 12, 2014:
There is no town better ANYWHERE
Canuck on October 04, 2014:
how about Paul Posluszny LB from the Jags? isn't he from Aliquippa?
Beth H on August 27, 2014:
Actually, Curt Singer is from Aliquippa in mailing address only...He went to Hopewell H.S.
Lisa Stover (author) from Pittsburgh PA on August 18, 2012:
Thanks for reading Tamara :)
Tamara on August 18, 2012:
Interesting. Three seems like a lot from one small town.