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The Hall of Fame Case for Don Coryell


Enough is enough.

It's time for Don Coryell to take his rightful place among the legends in the Pro Football Hall of Fame when the Class of 2019 is revealed Saturday

The iconic coach is once again a finalist for Canton; however, this is where his bid has fallen short on five previous occasions.

According to so many Hall of Famers, that's absolutely ludicrous as the NFL wouldn't be what it is today

Just how iconic and revolutionary was Coryell?

"He was one of the great coaches who had a major influence in developing and opening up the passing attack in the NFL," Hall of Fame head coach Don Shula once said. "Back then most teams emphasized the running game, with only occasional passes, but he was way ahead of his time and took the sport to the next level by making the passing game his team's strength. He had a perfect quarterback in Dan Fouts to run his offense, and they changed the way the game was played."

You can say that again.

Coryell coached the Chargers from 1978-86, recording an 72-60 all-time record as the Bolts won three division titles, played in four divisional playoff games and two AFC Championship Games.

However, it's his revolutionary passing concepts that truly changed the game. The "Air Coryell" offense marked the first time teams truly attacked defenses through the air in the manner we know today. As a result, the league in passing yards four straight seasons from 1979-82 to become the first player ever to eclipse 4,000 yards in three consecutive years. He was only the third QB in NFL history to eclipse 40,000 passing yards at the time he retired.

"He had tremendous influence on the game, and all you have to do is watch each Sunday and see how the game has evolved since his coaching," Fouts said in recent years. "I talk to Hall of Fame voters all the time about why Don should be in the Hall of Fame, and it's because he contributed so much to it. I could give them a dozen reasons; it is not just one or two things. His influence on the way the game is played offensively and defensively of course, but his use of personnel, creativity and fearlessness, too. Just the overall feeling of confidence that he gave us as a football team; every time we went on the field, we knew we had a superior plan and a fearless coach."

Fouts isn't the only Hall of Fame Charger who played Coryell who noted that Canton is empty without the head coach's bust joining other icons of the game. Just take a look at what Kellen Winslow and Charlie Joiner have said over the years about Coryrell

"Coach Coryell deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and it's a shame that he is not," Winslow said. "So many offenses that are being run today are variations of Air Coryell. They call it the West Coast offense because San Francisco won Super Bowls with it, but it was a variation of what we did in San Diego. He deserves to be there just as much as anybody else; any other coach who is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame."

"Don changed the game of football as we know it," Joiner has also said. "He had an impact on both sides of the ball with his innovative and ground-breaking offenses. One only needs to look back to see how offenses have developed since he came into the league. His explosive passing game changed the face of defenses. Opposing teams had to bring in extra DBs to try and slow down his passing offense, resulting in the 'nickel defense' and the 'dime defense.' Somebody who impacted the game like that should be in the Hall of Fame."

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