All of us who love the NFL owe a debt to coach Don Coryell, who died this week at age 85.
"Air Coryell" -- his pass-happy offense co-piloted by quarterback Dan Fouts -- entertained everyone in the early and mid-1980s. Coryell's San Diego teams led the NFL in passing yards for six straight seasons. It was always Fouts droppping back and hitting Charlie Joiner, or Kellen Winslow, or John Jefferson, or Chuck Muncie. Or somebody.
That offense got copied, to an extent, in all sorts of places. As my friend Clark Judge points out in this excellent column currently on NFL.com, Judge influenced both the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys, who won multiple Super Bowls in the late 1980s and 1990s.
I remember, mostly, the thrill of watching a Chargers game back in Coryell's heyday. In an NFL mostly dominated by defense and 4-yard-runs, a San Diego game was a pleasure.
Coryell isn't in the NFL hall of fame -- Fouts, Winslow and Joiner all are, however. Their coach should join them there, posthumously. Although he never made it to a Super Bowl, he had a great -- and positive -- influence on the game that so many love.