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3.8 out of 5 stars
15
Sid Gillman: Father of the Passing Game
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on September 30, 2012
I became a San Diego Chargers fan after watching John Hadl, Lance Alworth, Gary Garrison, and Dickie Post beat Joe Namath and the World Champion New York Jets 34-27 on September 28, 1969 (NBC's Curt Gowdy and Al DeRogatis announced the game). Dapper Sid Gillman (with bow tie) had been the Chargers' head coach and general manager beginning with their debut 1960 season in Los Angeles. The Chargers' salad days were over by the time I began following them but they were still considered one of the few AFL teams that could compete with the best of the NFL. There wasn't much news about the Chargers coming to Western New York in those days but I did pick up enough to know Gillman was a tough, no-nonsense coach and an offensive innovator who stressed the passing game.

The Chargers finshed the 1969 season with a respectable 8-6 record although Gillman had handed over the coaching reins to Charlie Waller on November 14, 1969 but remained as general manager. Gillman returned as head coach for the 1971 season but resigned after a disappointing 4-6 start. He would return as head coach of the Houston Oilers and in various functions in the USFL and NFL.

Josh Katzowitz's "Sid Gillman: Father of the Passing Game" is an interesting biography of one of football's greatest offensive minds. Katzowitz traces Gillman's rise from college athlete to college and professional coach. There are plenty of interviews with coaches, players and members of the Gillman family. Sid Gillman influenced countless NFL coaches with his innovations and changed the course of the game although he has not received the credit he deserves. Old-time Chargers fans will certainly enjoy this book as will anyone interested in football history.
7 helpful votes
8 helpful votes
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on June 13, 2016
Great!
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on June 11, 2016
thanks
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on October 1, 2012
I really enjoyed this book. Having written my master's thesis on Gillman, and having known him reasonably well, I thought this book did a great job of not sugar-coating Gillman's flaws, while additionally giving praise where it was deserved. I reviewed it for my blog, Tales from the American Football League.
8 helpful votes
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on September 7, 2015
Great Book!
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on June 20, 2015
Great book
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on December 22, 2012
This book is a wonderful depiction of the man and coach who is Sid Gillman. And though I was very, very young for most of his career (or not even born yet as I was born in 1965), I have so many fond memories of Coach Gillman. I recall my Mother hollering and jumping up and down feverishly each and every Sunday when Coach Gillman's team was playing on the television. This is because Coach Gillman is my maternal Grandfather. In fact, my middle name is Gillman - my Mom's maiden name... which I am so very proud to have.

My happiest memories are of those frequent visits to their home in La Costa, enjoying family time together, bar-b-q's and swimming in their pool. Their pool was extremely unique as it was shaped like a football sitting on a tee. The steps down into the pool were the tee and on the back side of the pool were little tiles that were painted to reflect the "laces". It was certainly a novelty to say the least...

Over the years, the articles I've read, the stories I've heard, the interviews I've seen depict a man of true integrity and greatness ... a truly beloved expert and fan of the game. I also always heard him being referred to as "the father of the passing game" which later in life I discovered was a huge part of the history and development of the game as we know it today.

I recall as a small girl parties at my home with members of the San Diego Chargers. Not only because my Grandpa was part of the coaching staff, but because my Father was the team physician for 13 years as well, far after my Grandpa moved on to other teams. And, the year the Philadelphia Eagles went to the Superbowl was certainly one of the most special for our family - even if they didn't win. Grandpa wore that Superbowl ring so proudly and was such an asset to the overall game of football - really, until the very end of his life.

Even through his late 80's, teams would send Grandpa film to review and would call on him regularly for advice. He had a fantastic little film room upstairs in their home that was wall-to-wall reels of film with an old time projector (probably high-tech for the times). I was far too young to truly appreciate what it all meant at the time, but I still have the vivid pictures of it all in my mind.

And I have such great memories of what I refer to as "the football room" (the family room) where we spent so much of our time during our weekend visits (of course in the off season) ... This is where we watched television (mostly football games), ate informal snacks and meals and visited with one another. I clearly remember that the room had an entire wall lined with shelves filled with so many game balls - many of which were signed by players, or specially inscribed by teams made just for Grandpa. And all of the other 3 walls were entirely covered with many plaques of the stories and articles written about my Grandpa over the many years of his storied career. One of the most special items that I remember in that room is a Walter Payton framed used game jersey that hung on the back wall, which you saw right when you entered the room. And, below it was a beautiful plaque of an article/photo of my Grandpa on the shoulders of his players after a big win. Also, when you entered their home, right there in the foyer was Grandpa's Hall of Fame bust, displayed prominently and proudly - as I felt it should be.

After Grandpa passed away, I remember listening, long into the night on several different sports radio stations, calls from so many of the former players and coaches that worked with Grandpa over the years telling their many wonderful stories and how he touched their lives in such impactful ways. I also remember the many articles, published in the sports section of newspapers all across the country, paying tribute to this great member of football lore.

Another thing I thought was so special and recall so clearly were the many football greats incredibly fond of my Grandpa who stayed in very close contact with my Grandma Esther after Grandpa passed away. Grandma was also truly loved by many who were fortunate enough to know her, especially in the football world. I was told that she was often at my Grandpa's side during his coaching career, almost always traveled with the team and served as sort of a "Mom" on the road for the players - keeping them in good spirits and out of trouble, I'm sure. One thing that I specifically remember her telling me is that on the morning of many Superbowls, many of the coaches who were in the big game would call Grandma, my guess is for "good luck". She always got such a kick out of that...

Grandpa gave my Grandma Esther the most beautiful pin, at some point over the years, that she wore constantly throughout her life - especially when she was "going out on the town". It was made of fine yellow gold, molded into the shape of a football (of course) and trimmed along the bottom with a row of beautiful tiny pearls. She wore that pin at each and every special occasion that I can ever remember ... And, she will wear it always, as my family placed it on her sweater after she passed away, to wear for all eternity.

This book isn't a technological resource that reveals his game diagrams or playbooks, but is more of an account of the life of Sid Gillman, the man and football innovator who touched many lives with his toughness and great knowledge of the game. I am very lucky to have had Sid and Esther Gillman as Grandparents and if you are a football fan, especially of the older era or of the San Diego Chargers, and want to know more about a man who left his prominent mark on this American past time, you will thoroughly enjoy this wonderful recount of one of the most cherished football legends of all time...

R.I.P. Papa Sid & Grandma Esther...
6 helpful votes
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on April 26, 2014
Josh Katzowitz fails in his feeble attempt to explain why Sid Gillman was successful and a master at understanding the strategy of the modern passing game. Katzowitz had so many games in Gillman's career that could have been detailed to give the reader an in-depth look at this successful coach.
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on October 20, 2012
thought book would tell more about the modern pass routes and techniques, overall, i was disappointed in that aspect.was thinking it would go into a little more technical points of throwing the ball.
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on November 8, 2012
This book is poorly written and poorly organized. Light on football but chock full of irrelevant material about family and obscure college programs. There are no play diagrams, there are no direct quotes of Sid Gillman's coaching philosophy.

Way back in 1987, I bought a book called "The Illustrated NFL Playbook." It's full of basic football information, diagrams of basic formations and types of plays. Dated now (the Dallas Cowboy "Flex" defense is illustrated and the Bears' "46" defense is described as cutting-edge), I still value it for one thing, a two-page essay called "Gillman on the Gameplan" (pp.88-89). It's terrific. You can find a used copy here on amazon for about 4 bucks. Another source for Gillman' s passing philosophy is Chris Brown's website, smartfootball.com. There's a link to an old column detailing Gillman's rules for passing. And finally, there's a book edited by Earl Brown, Coaching the Passing Game: By the Experts. Chapter 8 is by Sid Gillman, "The ABC's of the Passing Game".

This writer is woefully over his head. Sid Gillman deserved someone like David Halberstam or Mark Bowden to write his biography.
7 helpful votes
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