Don Coryell is finally elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame
February 16, 2023
Don Coryell, the pioneering Chargers head coach of the late 1970s and 1980s who led the National Football League into an era of explosive offensive football, has been officially selected for enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Hall announced on last Thursday. It was an honor that was long overdue.
"Don Coryell has had a tremendous influence on the game we know and love today," said Dean Spanos, Chargers Owner and Chairman of the Board. Whether it was through the coaches he mentored, the players he taught and led, the offenses he orchestrated or the defenses that were created to stop his offenses, today's NFL is a direct reflection of Don's mind and imagination. While it's obviously been a long time coming, we're grateful that his family, as well as the players he meant so much to, are now officially able to welcome him to his rightful place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and celebrate his legacy.
The Air Coryell offense was ahead of its time. With its roots in the Sid Gillman vertical offense, Coryell brought his Air Coryell offense to the campus of San Diego State, where he was the head coach from 1961 through 1972. Gillman was the Chargers head coach from 1960 through 1969 and won the AFC championship in 1963, beating the Boston Patriots.
From 1966 through 1968, Coryell won three consecutive national championships in Division 2 football at San Diego State. In those three seasons, SDSU went 30-1-1. Coryell was using his attacking passing scheme at a time when other colleges were primarily running the ball. They were overwhelming teams, primarily because most teams were not prepared defensively to defend his passing attack and were overwhelmed by the team speed.
Coryell's offense at San Diego State produced several NFL stars, including pro bowl wide receiver Gary Garrison, a star with the Chargers in the 1960's and 1970's. Other NFL stars included wide receiver Haven Moses, wide receiver Isaac Curtis, defensive end Fred Dryer, cornerback Willie Buchanon, and quarterback Brian Sipe, the 1980 NFL MVP.