Stein played four seasons in the NFL from 1929-1932. At the same time, he was a successful professional wrestler. On November 3, 1931, the New York World Telegram wrote, "Sammy Stein, who mixes football with his wrestling, kept his record intact by downing Steve Znosky...the hold was a flying tackle, which hardly was unusual with Stein in there throwing his own human projectiles. But aside from injecting the gridiron flavor for the finish, Stein showed a varied assortment of holds to maintain a steady improvement in his all around wrestling ability. No wrestler of the newer crop has come along as fast as Stein."
Birth and Death Dates:
b. April 1, 1905 - d. March 30, 1966
Stein began playing professional football in 1926 when he joined the Newark Bears of the American Football League. The AFL was started that year by Red Grange's agent so Grange could play in New York. The Newark squad was talented but midway through the season, the owner ran out of money and the players had not been paid for several weeks The AFL folded after one season due to low attendance and lack of funds.
After the Bears defeated an independent team, the Staten Island Stapletons, in an exhibition, the entire Bears team was hired by the Stapletons' owner. The moved killed the Newark franchise on the spot. Stein remained a member of the Stapletons over the next couple years as the team's owner tried to garner an NFL franchise. Finally in 1929, the Giants owner decided to forego his territorial rights and allowed Staten Island into the league; it became the goal of every Stapleton team to defeat the Giants.
The Stapletons faced the New York Giants in the second game of the 1929 season. After Giant quarterback Benny Friedman fumbled a punt return near his own goalline, Stein pounced on the ball for the recovery and Staten Island scored a touchdown on the next series. Later in the first half, Stein stopped a Giant runner from scoring on fourth and goal to preserve the Stapletons 9-6 halftime lead; the Giants eventually won the game 19-9.
Later that season, Stein was joined on the Stapletons by Jack Shapiro, who played one game that season and is the smallest man to ever play in the NFL. The Stapletons finished the year 3-4-3, sixth in the league. In 1930, Stein returned to the Stapletons and was joined by NYU grad Ollie Satenstein. That year, Staten Island had a record of 5-5-2 (sixth in the NFL), the only time in franchise history the team posted a .500 record.
Stein played two more seasons in the NFL for the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers before retiring after the 1932 season to concentrate on wrestling. His teammates on the Dodgers included All-NFL back Jack Grossman, lineman Saul Mielziner, and end Bill Raffel. Stein played a total of 31 career NFL games.
New York City
Stein played as a tackle and an end in the AFL with the Newark Bears in 1926. He then played in the NFL with the Staten Island Stapletons from 1929-1930, with the New York Giants in 1931, and the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1932.
6'0", 195 pounds
In the NFL:
Receiving touchdowns: 2
Use links below to navigate through the football section of Jews In Sports.
The Encyclopedia of Football, by Roger Treat (New York: A.S. Barnes and Co., 1976 -- 14th Edition)
Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League, edited by Bob Carroll, Michael Gershman, David Neft, and John Thorn (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1999)
encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)