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 yesterday at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in suburban La Mesa. The team did not release the cause of death, but Coryell had been in poor health for some time.
"We’ve lost a man who has contributed to the game of pro football in a very lasting way with his innovations and with his style," Hall of Famer Dan Fouts, the quarterback who made Air Coryell fly, said from Oregon.
Coryell was 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 1974 and ’75 behind Coryell.
Coryell also coached at Farrington and Punahou.
Former Farrington basketball coach Harry Pacarro played for Coryell, both at Punahou and at Wenatchee (Wash.) Community College in the 1950s.
Pacarro remembered Coryell as an innovater with his wide-open passing game.
"His whole idea was to make the game exciting and entertaining," Pacarro said. "It was 50 years ago and he was throwing the football all the time. People liked watching that.
"He was a helluva coach and really reached out to his players."