Arnie Weinmeister’s fumble recovery in this game was the sort of big play that the rangy defensive tackle delivered on a regular basis. He only played four years in the NFL, but he was All-Pro each year and was elected to the Hall of Fame because of his speed, quickness, strength, and often-spectacular play.
Weinmeister was drafted by the long-forgotten Boston Yanks in 1948, but he signed instead with the New York Yankees of the All-America Football Conference. He was All-AAFC in 1949 and then came to the Giants in the player dispersal after the AAFC merged with the NFL in 1950. The 6’4″, 240-pound Weinmeister immediately became a key member of Steve Owen’s new umbrella defense. Although he continually found himself double-teamed, he was still a terror rushing the passer. Among the Yankees, only sprinter Buddy Young could outrun him, and no one on the Giants could, although rookie ends were often matched against him in training camp races.
Weinmeister squabbled continually with the Giants over money issues in the days before there was a players association, and he eventually signed with the CFL for a healthy raise in 1954. The Giants sued him for breach of contract but lost the case because they had not properly exercised the contract’s option clause. Weinmeister spent two seasons in Canada before retiring; he went on to serve as an elected official and contract negotiator with the Teamsters Union for the rest of his life. His break with the Giants had been bitter, but after he was elected to Canton in 1984 with lobbying from his former teammate Tom Landry as a decisive factor he and the Mara family reconciled at Pro Bowl festivities in Hawaii that year.
Lineman Arnie Weinmeister was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame despite playing just four seasons in the NFL.
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Four teams battled throughout the 1963 season for the Eastern Conference lead. By Week 14, the Cleveland Browns and the St. Louis Cardinals had been eliminated, but the remaining two contenders would meet in the final game of the year at Yankee Stadium.
Coach Buddy Parker had built the roughhouse Pittsburgh Steelers by trading draft choices for veterans, and they came into the game against the Giants with an odd record of 7-3-3. However, because ties did not count in the standings at the time, a victory over the 10-3 Giants would give Pittsburgh the crown by virtue of a slightly higher winning percentage.
Despite having lost to Pittsburgh 31-0 in Week 2 when quarterback Y. A. Tittle was injured, New York came into the game as a seven-point favorite. On a frozen home field in windy, 25-degree conditions, the Giants came out fast and ran up a 16-0 lead on a field goal by Don Chandler, a 41-yard bomb from Tittle to Del Shofner, and a three-yard lob to Joe Morrison. Chandler missed the first extra point, but all Pittsburgh could manage in the first half was a field goal, leaving them trailing 16-3 at the intermission.
The Steelers continually derailed their own momentum in this game, with three interceptions and two lost fumbles; their quarterback, Ed Brown, had a miserable day. It was the first time he had returned to Yankee Stadium since losing the 1956 championship game as the Bears’ quarterback seven years before.
Finally, though, Pittsburgh appeared to be rolling in the third quarter. They scored quickly on a touchdown pass to Gary Ballman and had the Giants in a third-and-eight hole at the New York 24-yard line. Both coaches later cited the Giants’ conversion of this vital third down as the turning point of the game, because of the spectacular way it was accomplished.