He played one year at the University of Tennessee as guard on Coach John Barnhill's 1944 Rose Bowl team. Upon transferring to West Point, Steffy was a standout on Colonel Red Blaik's 1945, 1946 and 1947 teams, which posted a 23-2-3 record.
He received the Outland Trophy in 1947 as Army's captain and All-American guard.
Steffy, a two-way lineman for Army from 1945-47, was twice named an All-American and played on two national championship teams. He later served as Gen. "Iron Mike" O'Daniel's aide. Steffy was regarded as one of the best offensive linemen ever produced at Army, opening holes for the fabled Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis. Steffy, who served in the Korean War and received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart after being wounded in action in 1950, was a people person.
Just Steffy's presence alone would draw a crowd at Army football alumni golf gatherings. Former players from his era and more recent graduates made sure they stopped by and chatted with the member of the College Football Hall of Fame. "It was amazing to see the number of former players in his playing days or beyond, who would almost fight to sit at a table and talk to Joe for a while," Kinney said "He was a magnet that drew the cream of Army football. He was certainly one of the best players we've ever had."
Steffy's name stands with Army's Heisman Trophy winner Glenn Davis, Felix "Doc" Blanchard and Pete Dawkins in the west stands of Michie Stadium. Steffy's No. 61 is one of four numbers to be retired at West Point. Before the ceremony to retire his number in 2009, Steffy said, "I don't think I deserve it in the first place," Steffy said. "Who wants to wear it anyway? I could be wrong. Once they get me out and start telling lies about me, I might cry a little."
"He never called attention to himself," said Jack Hecker, an Army assistant coach for 23 years starting in 1967. Steffy wasn't just an Army legend. He was West Point.