NFL's 'Air Coryell' Dead at 85

He was an architect of the modern offense
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 2, 2010 6:35 AM CDT
Former San Diego Chargers coach Don Coryell appears during pregame warmups for a game in San Diego in this Nov. 15, 2009 file photo.   (Denis Poroy)
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(Newser) – Don Coryell, one of the founding fathers of the modern passing game, 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 has 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, and Coryell protege, Dan Fouts said from Oregon.

The coach's Air Coryell offense produced some of the most dynamic passing attacks in NFL history — and affected how defenses play even to this day. "He walked in and met our team for the time and he was just this little bundle of energy," says running back Hank Bauer. "He said, 'You know what? We're going to have fun.'" From 1978-86, Coryell's Chargers set records, and led the NFL in passing almost every season. "They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery," says Flouts, "Look around, it's there."

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