Innovative football coach Coryell dies at 85 - KMOV.com

Innovative football coach Coryell dies at 85

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- 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 Sharp 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 1974 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.

The lack of a Super Bowl on his resume may have hurt Coryell last winter in voting for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a finalist for the first time, but was not selected for induction.

"He revolutionized the game of football, not only in San Diego, but throughout the entire NFL," Chargers president Dean Spanos said in a statement. "Don Coryell was a legend not only with the Chargers but throughout San Diego. Though unfortunately he did not live long enough to see it, hopefully one day his bust will find its proper place in Pro Football's Hall of Fame. He will be missed."

Fouts, tight end Kellen Winslow and wide receiver Charlie Joiner, who made Air Coryell go, all ended up in the Hall of Fame.

In 14 NFL season, he had a record of 111-83-1.

Coryell is the first coach to win 100 games in college and pro football and is a member of the college Hall of Fame.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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