|Sports||Football, Track & Field, Baseball, Basketball|
To sports fans early last century, Ike Mahoney was the undisputed grand champion of Omaha athletes.
He dominated local headlines throughout the Roaring '20s, first at Omaha Commerce, then at Creighton University and in professional sports.
Mahoney played three years for the Chicago Cardinals in the NFL. George Halas signed him to play pro basketball for his Chicago Bruins. The Pittsburgh Pirates also signed him, although he never made it past the minors.
"Ike was the best at everything he did — riding a bicycle, shooting miggs (marbles) or anything else you could name," said the late Dynamo Dennison, an Omaha sportsman.
Mahoney captained the football, basketball and baseball teams at Commerce High while also running track. He lost only twice as a pitcher and medaled in the state track meet. He was all-state in football and the first three-time All-Nebraska basketball player.
"He was the finest Nebraska prep basketball player I ever watched," World-Herald prep editor Gregg McBride wrote in 1961. "Ike was almost as brilliant in football and excelled in baseball."
At Creighton, Mahoney played end and quarterback in football and center and forward in basketball. The Bluejays on the hardwood were 58-14 in his four years.
As a pro, Mahoney was a fan favorite playing in the Cardinals' backfield, and it was through football that he broke into basketball.
"One day when we were meeting the Bears," he said in 1946, "I carried the ball and George Halas brought me down with a vicious tackle. Before I could get back on my feet, Halas said, 'Ike, how would you like to play basketball for my team?' I answered, 'Sure, I’ll see you Monday,' and that’s how I came to sign with Halas."
From 1947 until his death in 1961, he lived and worked at Boys Town. Among his jobs were coordinator of intramural athletics and equipment manager, and assistant to legendary Cowboys coach Maurice "Skip" Palrang.
"Oh, I've made lots of money in my day," he said in 1948. "But I'm happy working with these youngsters. From a personal standpoint, it's about the best job I ever had."
Played for: Omaha Commerce High, Omaha Tech High, Creighton Bluejays, Chicago Cardinals and Chicago Bruins (pro basketball)
Best athlete from Nebraska played with or against: Could have been Commerce teammate Frank Rokusek, who was the starting end and captain of the 1924 Illinois team. Red Grange, an Illini junior that season, later said "Rokusek really made a football player out of me."
Best moment as an athlete: Beating Notre Dame, where he originally committed, in a home-and-home basketball series in his senior year of college
Mahoney was No. 12 in the inaugural Nebraska 100 list in 2005. See more about the 2005 list »