Shockingly, former Los Angeles Chargers head coach Don Coryell is still yet to receive his bronze bust for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Some fans have likely given up hope.
On Thursday, the NFL released its list of finalists for the Class of 2019, set to be enshrined next August. For just the fifth time in his 32 years of eligibility, Coryell’s name is on that list.
This has to be music to the ears for some fans of the Chargers. Coryell, an innovator of offensive football, is undoubtedly the best coach in franchise history, but his contributions to the game go well beyond that.
It would be difficult to tell the full story of professional football without what Coryell did for the game. Why would it be difficult? Well, he created the passing route tree, instituted the one-back offense and forever changed the game with what he did for the tight end position in the receiving game.
His “Air” Coryell offense in the early 1980s, a pass first, wide-open attack, is still regarded by many as the greatest offense in NFL history. If you’re more familiar with the “Greatest Show on Turf” that was the St. Louis Rams’ offense, it was largely based on Coryell’s concepts.
The game wouldn't be what it is today without him.
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) January 3, 2019
The knock on Coryell will be that he never won a Super Bowl. In fact, he never even got to one. But how can a man whose influence on the game is still so prevalent all these years later not be in Canton?
It’s great to see Coryell on the list of finalists and when you look at the full list, this might just be the year he gets in.
You would have to consider Tony Gonzalez, Ed Reed and Champ Bailey locks to get the call, but beyond that, the field is wide open. John Lynch and Isaac Bruce could get strong consideration, as could former Indianapolis Colts running back Edgerrin James. But none of those players has a better argument than that of Coryell.
Is this the year? It is painfully overdue.
Coryell’s induction would be a posthumous one, but one that is needed if the Hall of Fame is ever going to be complete.
The wait has been long and arduous, and players such as Dan Fouts, Charlie Joiner and Kellen Winslow, all members of the Hall of Fame, would likely admit that they would never have gotten there without their old coach.
Let’s hope the committee gets this one right.