Brandt: Steinbrenner had a passion for football

Tributes are pouring in from the baseball world and beyond on the passing of George Steinbrenner. The iconic New York Yankees owner has been a prominent figure in baseball since 1973 when he bought the team, but did you know that he was a football man before that?

Baseball was his business, but football was his love.

Long before he was a baseball owner, Steinbrenner was a graduate assistant under legendary football coach Woody Hayes at Ohio State. From there, he had a brief career as an assistant football coach in the Big Ten Conference — at Northwestern from 1955 to 1956 and at Purdue from 1956 to 1957.

I got to know Steinbrenner a little better later on in his career. Even as Yankees owner, he was always associated with football people. He hired Ray Graves, a former head football coach at the University of Florida, to work for his company in Tampa. Graves called me at the Cowboys one day to see if he and Steinbrenner’s then-son-in-law could meet with us. Steinbrenner wanted to see if the Yankees could apply the practices of football scouting to baseball scouting.

Later on, Steinbrenner served on an NCAA committee with former Dallas Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm. According to Schramm, Steinbrenner always wanted to talk football with him.

Steinbrenner was also a big horse racing fan. Just a great sportsman in general. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

— Gil Brandt

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