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Chargers Mourn Loss of Ernie Zampese

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Former Chargers assistant coach, Ernie Zampese, has passed away at the age of 86.

The Chargers released the following statement:

Regarded as the best offensive mind in football by John Madden, Don Coryell and nearly all his contemporaries, Ernie Zampese was among the most important offensive coaches in NFL history. Throughout his years with the Chargers in roles that included receiver's coach, assistant head coach and offensive coordinator, the Bolts consistently boasted the league's most feared passing attack. Decades removed from those 'Air Coryell' teams, his influence on the modern NFL – from x's and o's to the players and coaches he touched – can still be felt. Above all else, Ernie just loved what it meant to be a coach. He loved to mentor. He loved to teach. And everyone Ernie met loved him back. We've lost a good one today, and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Joyce, son Ken and the entire Zampese family.

Zampese spent nine total seasons with the San Diego Chargers where he started as the defensive backfield coach in 1976. Two years later, after a brief scouting stint with the New York Jets, Zampese was reunited with Don Coryell on the Bolts in 1979 after the pair worked together at San Diego State in the '60s.

With Zampese in a variety of offensive roles as noted above, the duo worked in tandem to help modernize the NFL passing game through the innovative Air Coryell offense. The Chargers led the league in passing yards for six consecutive seasons (1978-1983), five of which Zampese was part of.

His entire NFL career spanned four decades and in 2014, he was selected as the recipient of the Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman Award from the Pro Football Writers of America which is given for "lifetime achievement as an assistant coach in the NFL."

Earlier this year, he was honored as one of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's recipients of the inaugural Awards of Excellence.

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