Don Coryell, the innovative coach whose “Air Coryell” offense produced some of the most dynamic passing attacks in NFL history, has died. He was 85.
The San Diego Chargers confirmed Coryell died Thursday at Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa, just outside of San Diego. The team did not release the cause of death, but Coryell had been in poor health for some time.
Coryell is one of the founding fathers of the modern passing game. He coached at San Diego State from 1961-72 and went 104-19-2. He left the Aztecs for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1973. With Jim Hart at quarterback, the Cardinals won division titles in 1975 and ’75 behind Coryell.
He returned to San Diego in 1978 when he was hired by the Chargers.
From 1978-86, his “Air Coryell” offense—led by quarterback Dan Fouts— set records and led the NFL in passing almost every season. Coryell guided the Chargers to the AFC championship game after the 1980 and ’81 seasons, but he never reached the Super Bowl.
In 14 NFL season, he had a record of 111-83-1. He was a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in February, but was not selected for induction.
It’s an absolute joke that Coryell isn’t in the Hall of Fame. Many people get a chance to coach in the NFL but few change the game like Coryell did.
Some coaches can’t be measured by wins and losses and Coryell was one of those guys. The man was a legend and it’s a shame he didn’t get the honor of being inducted into the Hall of Fame while he was still alive.