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Overdue tribute to innovator
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.