If it happens to be true that pro football has become more important to the average American than aluminum foil or Baggies, then why is it that up until a few months ago I thought Bill Arnsparger was the name of a guy who either drove at Indy or held the world high-jump record? None of the average Americans in any of the saloons where I go knew beforehand that he was "the best man available" for the head coaching job of the New York Giants. And they certainly didn't know, as a matter of fact, that in Miami it was Bill Arnsparger, and not Don Shula, who actually originated the Flex-Tackle-Umbrella-Voodoo-Zone and the Psychiatric No-Name Investment Counselor for Unhappy Cornerbacks.
It seems to me and my average American friends that since there are only 26 of those head coaching jobs in the whole sophisticated, intellectual, worldly National Football League—counting the Houston Oilers as a team, of course—that all of the coaching geniuses we read about in the papers and hear about on television, in all fairness to the public, ought to be named Knute or Bear.
They are not, however, and this creates a problem for us no matter how many times we hear the following dialogue on TV:
"There was some question about whether Schnellenberger could do the job at Baltimore, Pat Summerall, but he's got those Colts fighting mad today."
"Right you are, Ray Scott."
Not so long ago I would have flunked any quiz that involved naming all of the current NFL head coaches. My experience has been that every time I get used to one he gets fired for losing an exhibition game to New England.
For instance, before I began typing this, if somebody had thrown several names at me I would have guessed that Rick Forzano was a leading welterweight contender out of Newark, that Charley Winner was a lovable comic-strip character, that John Madden wrote crime novels about Dick Nolan, private eye, that Chuck Knox was Chuck Noll, that John North—whose middle name ought to be Ringling, surely—had been trampled by an elephant, that Howard Schnellenberger invented the U-boat, that Mike McCormack was a fellow who kept turning up on ABC's Wide World of Sports driving a dirt-track Chevy, and that Nick Skorich and Abe Gibron, out of Cleveland and Chicago, had gone legit and were rumored to be buying the Tropicana in Vegas.
Naturally, the more obvious ones I would have known all about because of television and the sports pages.
Paul Brown? Sure. Invented the robot quarterback, the snap-brim hat, the film clip and the face bar on the helmet.
George Allen eats ice cream, right? And once traded his wife to three different clubs for a 47-year-old flanker.
Bud Grant fines the Vikings $100 for smiling.
Norm Van Brocklin was a great passer and a "coach on the field." And Atlanta wishes he was a coach on the sidelines.
Hank Stram had the Offense of the '70s—for at least three hours. He wears a red coat and a black tie and carries a rolled-up game program with Lenny Dawson inside of it.
Don Shula has somehow become Vince Lombardi, which is a curious thing to happen to a former Lincoln-Mercury salesman from Painesville, Ohio.
Dan Devine, Tommy Prothro, John Ralston, Chuck Fairbanks and Don Coryell were all among the "winningest college coaches," excluding games in late November.
Lou Saban disappears a lot. But he also reappears with unbelievable frequency, and apparently he is back in Rochester, Albany, Buffalo, or wherever it is that O.J. Simpson got sentenced by the player draft.
Sid Gillman has "forgotten more football than most men know" and he is the 87th head coach the Houston Oilers have had in the last four days.
And, finally, Tom Landry created the most complicated offense in the history of football. It involves locking himself inside of a computer, writing down audibles on American flags and having them shuttled to Roger Staubach in the huddle by Unitarian ministers disguised as tight ends.
So much for present images. But I don't think it's fair to let it go at this. With another sophisticated, intellectual, worldly NFL season about to descend upon us, I think all of us need to know more about the 26 geniuses of the new national pastime—right you are, Ray Scott—before several of them are fired and one of them replaces Don Shula as Vince Lombardi.
Let us study them one by one then, in the order of their importance to a game of trivia questions.
JOHN NORTH, The Saints:
Guys won a lot of money last year betting that John North was the name of the head coach of the Saints, even though they went 5-9, which was as good as they had ever done.
John North got to New Orleans in 1973 after eight years as the "receiver coach" of the Detroit Lions. Not too good a job when you consider that these were the years Detroit went without a passer.
He is 53, which means he spent several other seasons before that as an assistant at various colleges. John North got the head job after J.D. Roberts was fired for losing his first four exhibition games, which don't matter anyway. Especially to the players.
Owner John Mecom, who arrived in pro football like several other owners—by being in the Son business—asked around the New Orleans office if anybody on the staff was capable of coaching Archie Manning. Somebody said John North, maybe. Mecom put some private investigators on the case and they discovered that John North was the Saints' "receiver coach." They also may have found out that he was inexpensive, as coaches go.
They say John North likes to throw his cap and kick the turf a lot when things go wrong. That's good for sideline cameras.
As the Saints' public relations man, Larry Liddell, puts it, "John is just your average, dedicated, determined guy who happens to coach a pro team."
HOWARD SCHNELLENBERGER, The Colts:
He had a chance to learn a considerable amount as one of those lifelong-type assistants. He worked for Bear Bryant at Alabama and Blanton Collier at Kentucky and George Allen in Los Angeles. Then he worked for Shula at Miami and it was amazing what a few people like Bob Griese, Larry Csonka, Mercury Morris and Paul Warfield could do for the reputation of the man in charge of the Dolphins' offense.
It could be said that when Miami won its first Super Bowl, Howard Schnellenberger became the Arnsparger of the offense. Which makes you wonder what Shula did. Coach extra points?
Schnellenberger got the Baltimore job last year because of his Miami success, but he had a problem. The Colts had an Ivy Leaguer, Marty Domres, for a quarterback. They had several veterans who expressed a desire to see General Manager Joe Thomas hanging upside down next to Mussolini in the Milan train station. And there was no offense to be in charge of.
Immediately Schnellenberger took Baltimore from a five-game winning season to a four-game winning season, and 20 NFL teams outgained the Colts, but everybody agreed there was less dissension.
In the meantime Joe Thomas promises he will yet build the Colts into another Miami. He has promised this to the Baltimore owners, who are still concealing their identities because Carroll Rosenbloom made such a good deal for himself in L.A.
Schnellenberger has another major worry. Joe Thomas once fired a head coach because he wouldn't bench Johnny Unitas.
BILL ARNSPARGER, The Giants:
It seems like every time a pro team is searching for a new head coach the newspapers speculate that it will be Bear Bryant, Darrell Royal, Ara Parseghian, John McKay or Joe Paterno, but it usually turns out to be Bill Arnsparger.
What then happens is that the owner winds up being hated more than ever by the fans when an Arnsparger doesn't become another Lombardi—especially since the owner has already pointed out that Vince himself was once an assistant.
Wellington Mara is not a hated man, of course. Not by the Giants' 42,000 season-ticket holders. He is only hated by a few million people who don't think he ought to move the team to another state and still call it the New York Giants.
Arnsparger may have already discovered that right now there really isn't a Giant team to move, or coach. This will keep him from hearing "Goodby Arn" up in New Haven for at least two games.
Arnsparger is credited with designing the Dolphins' "famous" 5-3 defense, which the Miami sportswriters thought was something new.
His coaching colleagues call him "One More Reel" because he likes to analyze film. He has been called "brilliant" because Doug Swift developed into a good linebacker.
If Arnsparger likes No-Name teams, he should be more than comfortable with the Giants.
RICK FORZANO, The Lions:
He was the backfield coach a year ago, and for four years before that Forzano was the head coach at Navy, saying things like, "Notre Dame could double-team us with one man," and losing often. He shouldn't be blamed for losing at a service academy, however, because he took over at a time when kids were deciding it was dumb to go to any of them. It was more fun to salute a guru.
Forzano is now the Detroit coach for one year because Don McCafferty died in late July. McCafferty had hired Forzano as the Lions' backfield coach. Not many men give up a head job to become an assistant again, but then of course Forzano was at Annapolis where the best any coach can hope for these days is to stumble into the statue of Tecumseh and suffer amnesia.
One of the first positive things Forzano managed to get done was to persuade Greg Landry to cross the picket line during the players' strike—for two days anyhow—and tell him about the Lions' offense.
I don't know what Landry could have told him, except something on the order of, "Look, Rick, I roll out a lot. Sometimes I throw a pass. But mostly we all get injured."
ABE GIBRON, The Bears:
Abe Gibron is 5'11", weighs over 300 pounds, has a bullfrog voice, played guard for 10 years in the NFL and for 12 years after that was an assistant coach, mostly noted for his humor, so it is hard to visualize the Bears taking him seriously as a head coach. But then not many Bears ever took George Halas seriously, either, and sometimes they won.
The Bears are still an old-fashioned family organization. The Papa Bear, now 79, is chairman of the board and probably still in charge of seeing that no player keeps his game jersey as a souvenir after the final Sunday. The son, Muggsy, is general manager. A son-in-law, Ed McCaskey, is a vice-president, and the rest of the front office is littered with Halas cronies.
Abe Gibron has been a part of the family and will probably stay a part of it, in some capacity, even if he keeps on losing games. The players like him because he says things like, "You may be SOBs, but you're my SOBs." They also like the stories of his appetite and that somebody once said that Gibron "has the face that lunched a thousand shrimps."
In Brian's Song Abe Gibron played himself.
The Bears are wonderful. One only wishes kind of wistfully that Doug Atkins were back again shooting at pigeons from the top of the stadium with Halas hollering at him to come down and join the workout.
MIKE MCCORMACK, The Eagles:
He was an All-Pro offensive tackle for five years under Paul Brown, and he was a line coach under Otto Graham. Vince Lombardi and George Allen. Not bad company. But was he a head coach? That's what the Eagles' owner, Leonard Tose, wanted to know. Paul Brown said yes, if you were looking for class, leadership, organization, winning attitude and the ability to get along.
"Paul's recommendation was so strong," says Tose, "I had to wonder if there was a blood relationship there."
McCormack says, "I want to teach like Brown and motivate like Lombardi and Allen."
So far, it looks like he mainly wants to trade like Allen.
He gave up his heart, lungs, Harold Jackson, Tony Baker and a first-round draft choice for Roman Gabriel. He gave up two first-round choices for Bill Bergey, the linebacker. But he has brought back long hair and mustaches for the Eagles. That alone may have helped him take them to 5-8-1 last year from Ed Khayat's 2-11-1 the season before.
It will take a while to see whether the Gabriel trade works as well for Philadelphia as it did for the Rams. Somebody said that Gabriel traded himself to the Eagles, to what was the worst team in the conference, from the beaches of Southern California to the factories of the East, all of which made the Rams wonder how smart a quarterback he had ever been in the first place.
CHARLEY WINNER, The Jets:
Assistant to Weeb Ewbank at Washington University in St. Louis, 1948. Assistant to Weeb Ewbank at Baltimore, 1954-63. Head coach at St. Louis, 1966-70 (35-30-5). Defensive backfield coach, Washington (1971-72). Linebacker coach, under Weeb Ewbank, New York Jets, 1973. Promoted to head coach under General Manager Weeb Ewbank, 1974. Oh, yeah, one other thing. Married to Weeb Ewbank's daughter.
JOHN MADDEN, The Raiders:
What I like best about John Madden is that he wears his sideline pass tied on his belt. Presumably, he does it to make sure he can always get down on the field past the guards without any hassle, in case any of them has forgotten that Al Davis is no longer the coach.
Madden was 33, with hardly any experience, when Davis made him the Raiders' head coach. He had been at Hancock JC in Santa Maria and at San Diego State for a total of seven years. He had been linebacker coach of the Raiders for only two years.
Madden and Davis both like to say such things as, "We complete 37% of our passes between 30 and 50 yards down-field. We aren't dull. We gamble. We attack the deep zone."
There is a widely held belief that Al Davis still runs the Raiders; that Davis has been responsible for most of the victories (47-16-7) credited to Madden in the five seasons he has now been the head coach.
Only Madden and Davis know the truth.
They also know the truth about attacking the deep zone. The Raiders were ninth in passing last year.
CHUCK KNOX, The Rams:
When Chuck Knox, as a rookie head coach, took the Rams to a 12-2 record last season, it proved once again that Owner Carroll Rosenbloom and General Manager Don Klosterman were either charmed or shrewd. When he owned the Colts, Rosenbloom came up with an obscure assistant three times, and all three—Weeb Ewbank, Don Shula and Don McCafferty—won championships for him and, eventually, Super Bowls for themselves. As for Klosterman, the Duke of Dining Out, he had never worked anywhere—as a talent chief or general manager, from the Chargers to the old Texans (now the Chiefs), to the Oilers to the Colts and now the Rams—where the team didn't win.
Chuck Knox? He must have been the right man.
The only people who might have known Knox before 1973 were possibly Joe Namath and the guys who used to block for him. Knox helped develop the wall that protected Namath, which ultimately led the Jets to their Super Bowl victory.
What Knox had done lately, however, was help develop the offensive line of the Detroit Lions, which led ultimately nowhere. But crafty old Rosenbloom and Klosterman certainly knew what they were doing when they went out and hired Chuck Knox, a man who had never played pro ball.
They saw greatness in him. Especially because USC's John McKay had turned down the Ram job 97 times.
CHUCK NOLL, The Steelers:
There are four reasons, from what I gather, why Chuck Noll should not be a head football coach. He is an expert on wines, a gourmet cook, he likes classical music and he scuba-dives.
However, there are three reasons why he should be, reasons that say a lot about the inbreeding of pro coaches. He played for Paul Brown, having been one of those messenger guards, and he coached under Sid Gillman and Don Shula.
People say he is a student of game films and a good organizer. I would enjoy meeting a good coach someday who hates game films and can't find his hat.
DICK NOLAN, The 49ers:
In the late 1950s and early 1960s the face on the huge Camel billboard in Times Square, out of whose mouth issued smoke rings, was that of Dick Nolan, a defensive back for the Giants. For six years after that the quietest man on Tom Landry's Dallas staff was Dick Nolan. And for the past six years the only coach who has ever brought so much as a divisional championship to the 49ers is Dick Nolan.
"Landry taught me everything I know," Nolan has said.
If Landry taught Nolan how to keep a club from getting old, Nolan had better put that knowledge to use. And soon.
NICK SKORICH, The Browns:
He is one of those pro football fixtures. Once he line-coached the Steelers and the Packers. He head-coached the Eagles for a while. For seven years he assisted Blanton Collier with the Browns, and now he is only the third head coach the Browns have ever had, following Paul Brown and Collier.
With this kind of history it is not surprising that Skorich, the son of a Croatian coal miner, believes that football is a "physical game." He likes to run the Browns and make them "hit," even after the season begins, in practice.
After Skorich has worked the Browns down to the point of expiring in practice, he enjoys going home and tending to his vegetable garden.
DON CORYELL, The Cardinals:
I hated to see the name Stormy Bidwell leave the game. It sounded like a test pilot. But one result of Stormy's brother Bill buying out his share of the Cardinals was that Bill brought in one of those good college coaches. In 12 years Don Coryell won 104 games at San Diego State, ordering so many passes thrown it looked like La Jolla was attracting smog.
Last season Coryell tried to do the same thing in his first year at St. Louis, with Jim Hart, an eight-year veteran, as his quarterback. The Cardinals increased their yardage, but their record stayed the same: 4-9-1.
The Cardinals have always been goofy, unpredictable on defense, capable of getting hot on offense. Coryell's history indicates they'll stay the same, but he is said to have one of the good football minds, whatever that means. He'd better use it. Like any coach coming out of the colleges into the pros, it will take Coryell a while to learn the personnel in the league and how to trade.
LOU SABAN, The Bills:
The Garbage Man and a career head coach. He invites any waived player, cast-off or retread to try out for his teams. He has been the head man at Case Tech, Northwestern, Western Illinois, Boston, Buffalo, the University of Maryland, Denver and now at Buffalo again. If Owner Ralph Wilson can figure Saban out, he may be the only one who can. After he won the AFL title with Buffalo in 1964 on Cookie Gilchrist's running, he traded him. After he signed a multi-year contract to coach Maryland, he left after one. After he signed a 10-year contract at Denver, he left after five. Once he quit coaching to go into private business.
The only clue to his past is a statement: "I don't think winning is everything. There ought to be more to football than drawing circles and diagramming plays."
Says Wilson: "Lou doesn't think it's the same game it once was. Paying high salaries to rookies and dealing with lawyers and accountants have taken some of the fun out of the game. He thinks there are forces taking the game away from the coaches."
Saban was a Chinese language interpreter in the China-Burma theater during World War II. Maybe he ought to try Chinese on the lawyers and accountants. Meanwhile, he can just let O.J. Simpson run.
CHUCK FAIRBANKS, The Patriots:
Smooth. Good guy. Nice-looking. At Oklahoma one of those sharp young men with a stunning record. Chuck was there with the Steve Owenses, Jack Mildrens and Greg Pruitts. And the Wishbone. In six years he won or tied for the Big Eight title three times, he had a Heisman Trophy winner (Owens), he finally beat Texas and he coached one of those Games of the Decade against Nebraska.
At New England last year his pro debut was, shall we say, a quiet one. The record was 5-9, but he has Jim Plunkett, and now he has traded for Jack Mildren, who, if he can make the squad as a defensive back, is capable of coming in and running the Wishbone again, just to see what would happen.
"It could never be a major part of your offense in the pros," says Chuck. "You'd have to have six quarterbacks, and a dozen running backs, and you'd have to find fast linemen rather than big ones."
JOHN RALSTON, The Broncos:
At Stanford, where he won consecutive Rose Bowls, John Ralston had a habit of turning his back and refusing to watch crucial plays—out of nerves. He also wore flared trousers and a crew cut. He smiles a lot, being a certified Dale Carnegie instructor, but works his players hard. So much for anomaly.
When he got to Denver and told the players, "We're going to win the Super Bowl one of these days, it's inevitable." Tackle Mike Current said, "At first, we thought he was a little corny."
The players still consider Ralston more of a cheerleader than a coach, but he must have something. Denver went 7-5-2 last year, the Broncos' first winning season ever, and Ralston keeps saying, "It's an obsession to win the Super Bowl, and it's going to happen."
DAN DEVINE, The Packers:
When Dan Devine went from the University of Missouri to Green Bay in 1971, he said, "Football is football, wherever it's played." So in his first pro game he got a broken leg when an opposition player was pushed into him on the sideline; he later got food poisoning: he once saw his team fumble twice in the end zone in six seconds; and the Packers went 4-8-2 that first year.
The second year he was the Dan Devine the Packers thought they hired. He brought the Pack back. They went 10-4. But last year they slipped again, 5-7-2, so the jury has reconvened.
At Missouri, Devine was known for tailoring his style to the material on hand. If nobody could run the power sweep, he played defense. In one season he won four games in which his team failed to score more than a touchdown.
He tried to do the same thing last year in Green Bay. He didn't have a passer who could even qualify for the NFC throwing title, so he ran the ball, and not very well at that. The Packers were 25th in total offense.
The thing I remember best about Devine is that he hates germs. He stores his whistle in a container of alcohol between practices.
TOMMY PROTHRO, The Chargers:
When Alvin Ray Rozelle finally discovered dope earlier this year and made an example out of the Chargers, it led to a joke: the Chargers don't need a coach, they need a pharmacist. What they got instead was Tommy Prothro, a man of statistics and theories, and considerable coaching success, who says he has seen more marijuana around bridge tournaments than he has around football.
Bridge is just one hobby. He sits around drinking Cokes and figuring out that the team that gains the most yardage wins 66% of the time, and then he says, "You don't need to have the football to win games."
Tommy has coached a lot of winners, and a couple of Heisman guys, Terry Baker and Gary Beban, and he is a droll man who could best be remembered for the line, "I'm the oratorical equivalent of a blocked punt."
Not so. Few better football minds exist and, being personally wealthy, he has the time, nostalgia, whim, interest and intellect to do something fascinating with the poor Chargers.
He has never coached a dull or predictable team. Which, as somebody has pointed out, makes San Diego a perfect place for him.
HANK STRAM, The Chiefs:
When Lamar Hunt started the AFL in 1960 and then hired Hank Stram to coach his Dallas Texans, we all laughed. For 12 years Hank had been knocking around as a college assistant. But in these past 12 years all Hank has done is win. He's won the AFL and he's won the Super Bowl and he's come up with things like the moving pocket, the double tight end, the camouflage slot, the triple stacked defense, and he says, with some proof, that his football is the football of the future.
"My offense always has the same face," he says. "We just try to put different makeup on it."
Over the years Hank has been blessed with good personnel, but it's one thing to have it and something else to make it work. Hank has made it work. And we all stopped laughing a long time ago.
BUD GRANT, The Vikings:
The story I like best about Bud Grant is the one that says a self-important NFL executive once asked him to please have his Vikings line up, helmets under their arms, at a specified time, for the national anthem on TV. Grant smiled icily, as he does, and said fine and then he kept the Vikings in the locker room. Bud says it never happened, but I still like the story.
Bud Grant wins a lot of games and goes duck hunting. He doesn't believe he has contributed any innovations to football, unless he was the first to tell his defensive line to forget everything and just go in and hit people.
By merely looking at him there is no way to tell whether Grant's team is up by 40 points or if he's just received the news that he's incurably ill. On TV once Don Meredith's friend Harley Smydlapp said Bud Grant and Tom Landry had a personality contest and they both came in second.
SID GILLMAN, The Oilers:
In Houston people play games like name the original astronauts, or name all of the Oilers' head coaches. Sid Gillman, 62, who has been coaching forever, happens to be the eighth. In order, the others were Lou Rymkus, Pop Ivy, Wally Lemm, Sam Baugh, Bones Taylor, Ed Hughes and Bill Peterson.
Sid was one of those successful college coaches on the lower level, the guy who won at Miami of Ohio and Cincinnati. He had some good years with the Rams, but then he had some bad ones. Still, he was the Chargers' first coach, and he won. Remember those days? Jack Kemp and all that?
Sid had "retired" when Bud Adams made him the Oilers' GM before last season. And Bill Peterson's destiny was sealed. By late October, when Peterson's Houston record, overall, was 1-18, Gillman took charge, a coach again.
There seems little he can do for the Oilers right away, except talk about Dan Pastorini. Well, he could always do what he did for the Chargers. I love the following list:
1. Hire a psychiatrist to teach players' wives how to be a good wife.
2. Hire an investment counselor for players.
3. Put a tax on fat people.
4. Serve the Chargers breakfast in bed on game day after a good week.
5. Get put on probation for issuing illegal drugs to the players.
6. Buy a house with a football-shaped swimming pool at La Costa.
NORM VAN BROCKLIN, The Falcons:
Whether he's a good coach or not doesn't matter. He's quotable. When his rookie quarterback back in the Minnesota days, Fran Tarkenton, came to the sideline with a bleeding nose, the Dutchman said, "Welcome to the NFL, kid." He has also said, "Around here, you've got to have it under the left nipple."
Van Brocklin had it and he doesn't understand players who don't. The Falcons wore good last year, but they were upset twice in the stretch Why?
"Because all the hookers and bartenders on Peach Street told them how good they were and they believed," he said.
The Dutchman is a walking generation gap, but colorful. He banished long hair for a while, still dictates dress codes and has outlawed certain establishments.
He has said, "If you want to wear bell-bottoms, join the Navy. If you want long hair, become a hippie. If you want to wear a headband, get a job as an Indian in a cowboy movie."
He has added, "This isn't some sport where you play 8,000 games and run out to second base and call time out because you've got a hangnail."
Last season was Van Brocklin's best. Atlanta was 9-5. And things look promising. But as Guard Andy Maurer said—shortly before he was traded—"The Falcons have everything they need to win a championship. It's just a matter of the players ignoring Van Brocklin."
GEORGE ALLEN, The Redskins:
I have a friend who played for the Bears when Allen was the defensive coach and he loves George Allen. I have a friend in Los Angeles who was a sportswriter when Allen coached the Rams and he hates George Allen. George Allen helped my friend, the football player, make more money. With my friend, the sportswriter, he broke appointments and spoke half-truths, I don't see how this makes George Allen different from most football coaches I have known.
We all know Allen works 18-hour days. We know he keeps books on game officials. We know he would trade SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for Spider-Man comics if it would help him win a game. We know he would pay a player a fortune for a touchdown. As Redskin President Edward Bennett Williams has said, "I gave Allen an unlimited budget and he exceeded it."
George Halas said of George Allen, "He's an opportunist, a liar, a schemer, a cheat. He'll use chicanery."
I still don't see how this makes him different from other coaches.
TOM LANDRY, The Cowboys:
It took Tom Landry seven years to produce a winner in Dallas, and not many owners other than Clint Murchison would have kept the same head coach around that long. Landry has been winning ever since, and he is now entrenched as one of the goliaths of the business. He is even beginning to receive credit for things he didn't do, such as inventing the umbrella defense, the multiple offense and Bob Hayes.
The Cowboys run a classy operation, and Landry has been a part of putting it together. They have lost some soul and personality since the Don Meredith days, and, if anything, they are a bit too sleek and computerized now, but then so is the city of Dallas itself.
Some of the players are getting old, and some feel alienated, but Tom Landry keeps punching out winners because the organization stays ahead of the game.
PAUL BROWN, The Bengals:
This will be Paul Brown's 40th football season and he has won over 300 games if you want to count Severn Prep, Massillon High, Ohio State, Great Lakes Naval Station, the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati.
Beyond that, all he takes credit for is being:
1. The first to employ a year-round coaching staff.
2. The first to use notebooks and classroom techniques extensively.
3. The first to set up a statistical film-clip study.
4. The first to grade players.
5. The first to insist that players stay in downtown hotels the night before a home game.
6. The first to call plays from the sidelines.
7. The first to design detailed pass patterns to explore the vulnerability of modern zones and rotations.
8. The first to use intelligence tests as a clue to a player's potential.
9. The man who invented the face-bar.
I would also credit Paul Brown with introducing the stoic nature to coaching. He put football in the briefcase.
DON SHULA, The Dolphins:
Larry Csonka said it best after the Dolphins won their second Super Bowl. "It we won," said Csonka, "Shula promised us Wednesday off."
Like any good coach Don Shula does it all with hard work and decent athletes. His teams block and tackle and try not to make mistakes.
"That takes mental and physical preparation, and that's what we try to do," says Shula, who has reached the top of his profession and now faces the challenge of trying to stay there and prove it all over again.
Shula says, "I don't have any magic formula that I'm going to give the world as soon as I can write a book. I'm just a guy who rolls up his sleeves and goes to work."
It won't be much fun for Shula to go to work in Miami after this year if Csonka, Paul Warfield and Jim Kiick really leave. As Duffy Daugherty once said, "It's very bad luck for a coach not to have good football players."
To stand back for a second and take a broad look at all 26 NFL coaches, I get the following impressions:
They are all going to outwork each other, most of them are going to quote Paul Brown occasionally, very few are going to smile Frequently, several are going to take credit for a new trend, two or three will be fired, and they will all agree that it's getting tougher and tougher to coach pampered millionaires. Personally, I think it's getting hard for them to find good "receiver coaches."