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Pop Ivy (January 25, 1916 – May 17, 2003)

Frank “Pop” Ivy was a football player and coach who was the only person to head coach in the NFL, AFL (American Football League) and the Western Interprovincial Football Union (the former name of the Canadian Football League or CFL).

Ivy was born in Skiatook, Oklahoma and got his nickname “pop” for his premature baldness. He played college football for the University of Oklahoma and never missed a game. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1940, but was quickly traded to the Chicago Cardinals. In 1947 after helping the franchise to win its only NFL title, his playing career was over and he turned to coaching.

In 1948 he went back to the University of Oklahoma as an assistant coach for the Sooners. In 1954 he headed north of the border to head coach for the Edmonton Eskimos. While there, he won three consecutive Grey Cup championships. In 1957, his former NFL team, the Chicago Cardinals, wooed him back with a head coaching position. Unfortunately he was not able to replicate the success he had in Edmonton and he resigned December 6, 1961. The Denver Broncos (of the AFL) were interested in him, but he ended up taking a gig with the two-time AFL champion Houston Oilers on March 5, 1962. Ivy coached for the next two seasons. He took the Oilers to the championship game that they ultimately lost. After a shaky start in his second year (and their first-ever losing season), Ivy was fired on June 1, 1963.

He began scouting for the New York Giants and became their assistant coach in February 1965. After a rule was enacted that said Giants’ coaches needed to live in New York or New Jersey, Ivy returned to scouting. In 1971, he returned to a coaching position with the Giants for three seasons. After that, he returned to scouting before retiring from football in 1984.

A lifelong resident of Norman, Oklahoma, Ivy passed away there on May 17, 2003 at age 87. His wife, Inez died in 1994. Ivy was survived by his son Lee and daughter Sue, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.