NEW YORK (AP) Allie Sherman, the player-friendly coach who led the New York Giants to NFL championship games in his first three seasons with a star-studded but aging roster, has died. He was 91.
Sherman's family said Monday that he died Saturday at his Manhattan home.
''Allie was a great coach and an even better man,'' John Mara, Giants' president and chief executive officer, said. ''He was a special friend, and I will miss him dearly.''
Sherman's Giants lost to the Green Bay Packers in the 1961 and 1962 championship games and to the Chicago Bears in the 1963 title game. He was the NFL Coach of the Year in 1961 and 1962 and finished 57-51-4 in eight seasons with the Giants.
After posting a 33-8-1 record in his first three seasons, the Giants did not have a winning season in Sherman's final five years, with the struggles leading frustrated fans to chant ''Goodbye Allie'' at times.
To his credit, Sherman always said that the fans had to right to express their displeasure.
''Allie was a friend of mine,'' Hall of Fame running back Frank Gifford said. ''There were a lot of times after practice when we were in Yankee Stadium and he would come over if I wasn't looking like I was happy. He wanted to know what was wrong. He would pull up his little stool, we'd sit down and we'd talk. He was a coach and a friend. Coaching was a different kind of role in his life.''
Sherman was the coach who helped Gifford move from defensive to offense, taking a player away from then coordinator Tom Landry.
Sherman was an innovator on offense, and liked to throw the ball downfield with Y.A. Tittle, another Hall of Famer, at quarterback. In 1966, he brought in placekicker Pete Gogolak from the then AFL Buffalo Bills, making him the NFL's first soccer-style kicker.
''He always treated me well,'' Gogolak said. ''He didn't try to change my form. Back then, everybody tried to coach everybody else, but my kicking style was so new that I think he was very decent from that point of view. He said, `I don't know too much about what you do,' so he kind of left me alone, because there was no comparison to anybody else. He was a really good guy to play for.''
The 5-foot-10 Sherman played quarterback at Brooklyn College and spent five seasons in the NFL as a backup with the Philadelphia Eagles. He served as the Giants' backfield coach from 1949-52 and was 36-26-2 as the head coach of the Canadian Football League's Winnipeg Blue Bombers from 1953-57.
He returned to the Giants as a scout in 1958, took over as offensive coach in 1959 when Vince Lombardi left for the Packers and became head coach when Jim Lee Howell retired after the 1960 season, inheriting a team that included Hall of Famer Rosie Grier, fullback Alex Webster - who would replace Sherman before the 1969 season- linebacker Sam Huff and cornerback Erich Barnes.
Sherman was born in Brooklyn in 1923, the son of Russian immigrants.
''Allie was special,'' said Steve Tisch, the team's chairman and executive vice president. ''Like my father (Bob), Allie was from Brooklyn. Allie was one of us. Can you imagine being the person hired to replace Vince Lombardi on a coaching staff in 1959? Allie did it, and he did it well.''
He's survived by wife Joan, son Randy, daughters Lori Sherman and Robin Klausner and two grandchildren. A private funeral will be held.