- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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It is clear many San Diego Chargers fans have strong memories of Don Coryell, who who coached San Diego from 1978-86, and was known as an innovator in the passing game. His Chargers’ offenses were known as “Air Coryell.”
Coryell died at the age of 85 Thursday. Coryell was a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame last in February. He is still eligible for enshrinement. It is clear many San Diego fans think he belongs in the Hall of Fame, and I agree with them.
Here are some of your sound-off responses as we asked for your favorite memories of Coryell. Thanks to everyone who participated:
Kurt from San Diego: The man should be in the HOF. Coryell has never gotten his due. He changed the game forever. The modern passing tree numbering system, the I formation, QB & WR reading defenses and adjusting routes accordingly while the play is still occuring, forcing the development of the nickel and dime defenses, H back/TE postions used like never before, using man in motion on almost every play... the list goes on. Superbowls are over-rated and the HOF selection obviously has politics involved. The game would not be what it is today without Coryell. He was an intense competitor who loved his players and loved the game. He deserves to be elected. It is sad though that it will come after his death. RIP AIR CORYELL!
R. Roberts from Hanford, Calif.: I was lucky enough to watch Don Coryell's last 4 years with SDSU and then again with the Chargers. Thanks for all the Joy, the Tears and all the fun you gave me and San Diego. Thanks
Josh from Mission Viejo, Calif.: Coryell's greatest accomplishment: give Dan Fouts 2883 passing yards in 9 games and Wes Chandler 1032 receiving yards in 8 games during the shortened 1982 season. If they played at that level for a full season, Fouts would have had 5125 passing yards, and Chandler would have had 2064 receiving yards
Tommy from L.A.: I’ll always remember those great passing teams of the early 1980s. My Chargers were a lot of fun to watch and coach Coryell was the reason why. Long live “Air Coryell.”
Mike from Fresno: Coach Coryell was the greatest. Put him in the HOF.
Charger Kerry from Louisville: My first encounter with "Air Coryell" came via the radio when I was 8 years old....My mother was driving me home from my Grandpa's house in Chicago, IL to our home in Louisville, KY...Somewhere in the middle of Illinois we lost all stations except the broadcast of "THE GREASTEST GAME EVER PLAYED"....We listened to every play and I was fascinated with Dan Fouts, Charlie Joiner, Kellen Winslow, etc.....I remember losing the signal just as we made the last turn into our neighborhood shortly after the game winning kick to give the Chargers the victory....I spent the next few months buying all the football card packs I could find and pretending to be Dan Fouts in every neighborhood football game we played that year....The next season I watched the two or three games and fell in love with the Chargers...I don't miss a game on TV nowadays and have attended several road games over the years including taking my son to his first Charger's Game this past Christmas in Nashville, TN.....All I can say is thank you for the many many memories you have created for me in my lifetime and the many more to come....Godspeed to Heaven and may your journey to Canton be as quick as your offense!
1dEric D. Williams