Joe Zaleski
No. 25
Born:(1927-03-19)March 19, 1927
New Kensington, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died:September 10, 2016(2016-09-10) (aged 89)
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Career information
CFL statusAmerican
CollegeUniversity of Dayton
Career history
As coach
1958–1967Winnipeg Blue Bombers (assistant)
1967–1969Winnipeg Blue Bombers (head)
1970–1971Edmonton Eskimos (assistant)
As player
1952–1954Winnipeg Blue Bombers
1955Montreal Alouettes

Joseph John Zaleski (March 19, 1927 – September 10, 2016) was a Canadian football player and coach.

Early life, education and Marine Corps service

Zaleski was born in New Kensington, Pennsylvania in 1927 and attended Warren Consolidated High School in Tiltonsville, Ohio.[1][2] After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and was stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.[2][3] While in the Marine Corps, he deployed to Okinawa in the aftermath of World War II.[2] After leaving the Marine Corps, he attended the University of Dayton from 1947 to 1951, where he played on the football team as the starting quarterback for two years.[4] As a senior, he was voted most valuable player in 1950.[5] He graduated in 1951 with a bachelor of science in education.[2]


After signing with the Los Angeles Rams one season, without appearing in a game, Zaleski signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Western Interprovincial Football Union in 1952. He played there for two years as the backup quarterback and a defensive back, where he was regarded for his ball handling abilities. In 1955, he then signed with the Montreal Alouettes, where he played for one season as reserve quarterback. The following year, in May 1956, Zaleski moved to the Ontario Rugby Football Union where he was a player-coach for the Sarnia Golden Bears, remaining there for two years, leaving in 1957.[6]

In 1958, Zaleski was hired as an assistant coach for his former team, the Blue Bombers,[7] winning the Grey Cup in 1959, 1961 and 1962. He remained in this position with Winnipeg until 1967 when he was named the team's head coach, replacing Bud Grant. As head coach, he compiled a record of 10–37–1 over three seasons and was eventually fired on November 20, 1969.[8] In 1970, he was hired as an assistant coach for the Edmonton Eskimos, a position he retained for two seasons, with him being fired along with another assistant, Al Benecick, on January 3, 1972.[8][9]

He married Louise Ann Savanyo of Tiltonsville, Ohio, around 1952 with whom he had five children, including a son, Slater, who played in the CFL. She died in Edmonton on November 8, 2013.[10] Zaleski died on September 10, 2016, aged 89.[11][2]


  1. ^ "Los Angeles Times: Archives - Pennsylvanian New Winnipeg Grid Coach". 1968-10-22. Retrieved 2013-11-18.
  2. ^ a b c d e Joseph Zaleski, website (obituary).
  3. ^ "Bomber Job to Zaleski". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. March 15, 1967.
  4. ^ Smith, Bob. "Gavin Grooms Replacements For Bok And Chief Toscani: Ex-GIs Are Prepared to Take Over Spots", The Dayton Herald, Dayton, Ohio, volume 63, number 245, October 17, 1947, page 38. (subscription required)
  5. ^ Burns, Joe. "Zaleski Voted U.D.'s 'Most Valuable'", Dayton Daily News, Dayton, Ohio, volume 74, number 139, December 9, 1950, page 6. (subscription required)
  6. ^ "Sarnia Inks Joe Zaleski". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. May 16, 1956. p. 25.
  7. ^ "Joe Zaleski With Bombers". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. May 6, 1958.
  8. ^ a b "Joe Zaleski Named Edmonton Grid Aide". Youngstown Vindicator. December 25, 1969.
  9. ^ "Coaches cut". The Ottawa Citizen. January 4, 1971.
  10. ^ "Louise ZALESKI Obituary: View Louise ZALESKI's Obituary by Edmonton Journal". Retrieved 2013-11-18.
  11. ^ "Former Bomber coach Zaleski dies | Winnipeg Sun".