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By Bill Seals
Sports Reporter 

Former Charger Head Coach inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame

 

August 31, 2023

When it comes to San Diego Football, Coach Don Coryell is as good as it gets. Coryell was the head coach at San Diego State from 1961 through 1972, winning three Division 2 national championships. He had a record of 104-19-2 at SDSU and won three national championships. Coryell is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

This past weekend, Coryell was officially inducted into the NFL Football Hall of Fame. Coryell won five division titles, two with the St. Louis Cardinals and three with the San Diego Chargers. From 1979 through 1981, Coryell led the Chargers to three division titles, losing in the 1980 AFC Championship game to the Oakland Raiders and in the 1981 AFC Championship game to the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Air Coryell offense led the NFL in passing yards in six consecutive seasons, an NFL record. Coryell's offensive innovations changed the NFL from a run-first league to a pass-first league. Coryell is considered by many as the Father of the Modern Passing Game. The Air Coryell offense loved speed and loved the vertical passing attack.

At San Diego State, Coryell produced more NFL talent at a Division 2 school than most big-time programs were producing. Coryell had 6 first round picks and 10 second round picks in his time at SDSU, including NFL pro bowl players like Haven Moses, Issac Curtis, Gary Garrison, Fred Dryer, Willie Buchanon, Joe Lavender, and Monte Jackson. Quarterback Brian Sipe was an NFL MVP in 1980. Quarterback Dennis Shaw was a first-round pick of Buffalo and NFL Rookie of the Year.

Coryell becomes only the fourth coach ever to become a member of both the College Football Hall of Fame and the NFL Hall of Fame. The other three coaches are Sid Gillman, Jimmy Johnson and Earle Neale. At San Diego State, Coryell had two future NFL Hall of Fame coaches on his coaching staff; John Madden and Joe Gibbs. Madden won a Super Bowl with the Oakland Raiders and Gibbs won three Super Bowls with the Washington Redskins. Gibbs also played for Coryell.

After Sunday's intrasquad scrimmage, Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley took a minute to sing the praises of Coach Coryell.

"Before I get going, I just wanted to make sure that we pay tribute to Coach Coryell," Staley said. "What a special weekend for him and his family and the Chargers. To see the last couple of days, the imprint that he left on the National Football League, I think it's been great to tell that story to our team, for them to understand the history of this club and how much Coach Coryell really meant not only to the Chargers, but for the National Football League."

Staley added, "When you think about coaches like John Madden, when you think of coaches like Joe Gibbs, and not to mention all the Hall of Fame players that he affected - truly a legacy that still lives today in the passing game. When I was looking at some of the speeches for the Hall of Fame, to think that they led the NFL in passing six straight years, and seven years overall, and led the NFL in scoring. This guy was just a true innovator. Just want to pay our deepest respect and admiration. So proud to be part of this football team."

 

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