Coryell, Seau Finalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame

Former San Diego Chargers Head Coach Don Coryell and former linebacker Junior Seau are among the 15 modern-era finalists for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015.

Phrases often used to describe Coryell’s genius include “revolutionized the game,“ “revolutionary vision,” “innovative and ground-breaking offenses,” “ahead of everyone in terms of innovation,’’ “one of the first real forerunners of the passing game” and “he changed (the game).”  Watch this video and read the comments below in support of Coryell’s selection.

Chargers Chairman of the Board-President DEAN SPANOS: “He revolutionized the game of football, not only in San Diego, but throughout the entire NFL. Don Coryell was a legend, not only with the Chargers, but throughout San Diego. Though, unfortunately, he did not live long enough to see it, hopefully one day his bust will find its proper place in Pro Football’s Hall of Fame.”

HOF Coach DON SHULA:  “He was one of the great coaches who had a major influence in developing and opening up the passing attack in the NFL. 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.”

HOF Coach JOHN MADDEN said at Don Coryell’s memorial service:  “You know, I’m sitting down there in front, and next to me is Joe Gibbs, and next to him is Dan Fouts, and the three of us are in the Hall of Fame because of Don Coryell. There’s something missing.”

HOF Coach JOE GIBBS:  “Don was an innovator on offense and pioneered the way for an explosive passing game in our League. He had success at all levels of coaching. He was a football genius in the way he structured the terminology for calling plays and coached many Pro Bowl players in his career.

“His influence on the game has been great and his coaching tree developed a number of coaches that went on to be included in the Hall of Fame. Obviously I am one of those that developed under his tutelage. He was a great coach and the greatest testimony to that is what his players all thought about him. The loyalty they all had. His passion for the game was unmatched. A key component of his approach was generating a tremendous dislike for the opponent each week and transferring it to the players so they would play with the same passion in which he coached.

“This is a recognition that is long deserved and I hope you will use the opportunity to recognize Don and vote for him for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015.”

HOF Coach TOM LANDRY:  “When he went to St. Louis, he was far ahead of everybody as far as what they did with the ball.  When he went to San Diego, he was one of the first real forerunners of the passing game we see today.”

HOF Quarterback DAN FOUTS:  “Don Coryell has earned his place in Canton. First and foremost, I would not be in the Hall of Fame had it not been for my nine years as Don’s quarterback with the Chargers. It was Coryell – with his revolutionary vision, his unique style of leadership and his successful implementation of the most innovative offense the NFL had ever witnessed – that led me and my teammates, Kellen Winslow and Charlie Joiner, to the steps of the Hall of Fame.

“I feel strongly that induction into the Hall of Fame should be based primarily on one’s contribution to this great game and continuing influence that is felt as the game is played today. All you have to do is review the careers of Hall of Fame coaches, such as John Madden, Bill Walsh and Joe Gibbs, and see who provided them with the inspiration and innovation that led to their own Hall of Fame careers. Super Bowl coaches like Dick Vermeil and Mike Martz, and the great offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese would concur that the ‘Air Coryell’ offense contributed a great deal to their own success.

“I think 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.”

HOF Tight End KELLEN WINSLOW:  “Coach Coryell deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and it’s a shame that he is not. 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.”

HOF Wide Receiver CHARLIE JOINER “Don changed the game of football as we know it. 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.

“I credit much of my success to Don and know I would not be in the Hall of Fame if I had not played in his system. I believe Dan Fouts and Kellen Winslow would say the same thing. We all are deeply grateful Don came along at the right time for us.”

Coach MIKE MARTZ:  “He was way ahead of everyone in terms of innovation. There was this unspoken set of rules that you played by on offense. And everyone was running generally the same kind of plays. The formations were the same. The concepts were the same. Coryell changed all that. People immediately said, ‘You can’t do that.’ Well, you can do that, and he did it. His whole approach to the game was different. He was going to beat you with the ball at any time. He had this aggressive mind-set. He was always attacking the defense, never going into this conservative mode where you try to win through attrition. And that’s where football was at that time in history. Now, 40 years later, you’re seeing the second and third generations of coaches running Coryell’s system.

“He’s one of just a handful of people who had an impact on this game forever. He changed it. I’m not sure why that hasn’t been acknowledged by the Hall of Fame.”

Coach ERNIE ZAMPESE “Don allowed people to do what they did well, as far as the offense. If you could run fast, catch the ball and be a great receiver, then he was going to let you do that. He wasn’t going to hamstring you because he didn’t like to throw the ball to the tight end. He allowed them to be as good as they could be doing what they did best.”

Junior Seau’s credentials for entrance into the Pro Football Hall of Fame are undeniable.

“From the day we drafted Junior, we knew he was special,” said Chargers Chairman of the Board-President Dean Spanos. “He was such an energized, charismatic person. He attacked life the same way he attacked ball carriers. It’s that passion that turned him into the Hall of Fame player he is. His athletic ability was clear, but it’s his passion and energy that separated him from the rest of the league. It’s that same passion for life that made him an icon in San Diego.

“Junior certainly is deserving of being a first-ballot inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”

Seau was the team leader and the heart and soul of the Chargers’ defense from 1990-02. His stellar playing career was highlighted by 12 consecutive Pro Bowl selections, the most by any player in Chargers history and tied for the third-longest streak ever.

Seau’s career statistics are beyond question. He appeared in 268 regular season games, including 200 as a member of the Chargers, tied for the second-most in team history. During 13 seasons in San Diego, Seau racked up 1,396 tackles, 45.5 sacks and 14 interceptions. He was the team leader in tackles in eight of his 13 seasons, averaging 116 tackles a year. Seau led the Bolts in tackles in 84 of the 200 games he played for the team and he recorded 10 or more tackles 47 times.

Following his 13 seasons in San Diego, Seau continued his NFL career with the Miami Dolphins (2003-05) and New England Patriots (2006-09). In his career, he recorded 56.5 sacks, intercepted 18 passes for 238 yards, and recorded 10 or more tackles in a game 64 times. In 1994 he helped lead the Chargers to their first Super Bowl appearance, recording 10 or more tackles in a game 10 times that year while recording 155 tackles, 5.5 sacks, three fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and three passes defensed.

Among his many honors, Seau was a first-team All-Pro pick by the Associated Press eight times during his career and a second-team selection on two occasions (1995, 1999). He was named the Chargers’ Most Valuable Player a team-record six times (1993, 1997-2001) and the Defensive Player of the Year twice (1998-99). He also was voted the Chargers’ Most Inspirational Player in 1997 and 2002. In 2009 he was chosen as one of the 50 Greatest Chargers of All-Time, and in 2000 he was named to the Chargers 40th Anniversary All-Time Team, the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s All-Decade Team for the ’90s and selected as the NFL Alumni Association’s Linebacker of the Year. In Miami, he was awarded the Dolphins’ Don Shula Leadership Award following the 2003-04 seasons.

Seau’s greatness as a player on the field was equaled only by his leadership and generosity in the community. As a testament to the contributions he has made to enrich young lives in San Diego and around the country, Seau and his foundation were presented at the White House by President George W. Bush with the “Volunteer Service Award,” as part of the Asian Pacific Heritage Month celebration in May 2005. Among the many honors bestowed upon Seau for his community work include NFL Man of the Year (1994).

Junior Seau’s Career Highlights

  • Voted to team-record 12 consecutive Pro Bowls (1991-02 seasons); became only 4th NFL player since 1970 to be selected to the Pro Bowl 10 or more straight times, joining Randall McDaniel (12), Mike Singletary (10) and Lawrence Taylor (10).
  • First-team All-Pro selection eight times.
  • Named the NFL Alumni Association’s Linebacker of the Year in 2000.
  • In 2000, named to the Chargers 40th Anniversary Team.
  • Named to the All-Decade Team of the 1990s by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
  • Selected the Chargers MVP five straight seasons (1997-2001), while he shared the award with Leslie O’Neal in 1993.
  • Voted the Chargers Defensive Player of the Year twice (1998-99).
  • Voted by his teammates as the Chargers Most Inspirational Player in 1997.
  • Voted first-team All-Pro by Associated Press six times (1992-94, 96, 98, 00); second-team twice (1995, 99).
  • First-team All-Pro by College & Pro Football Newsweekly twice (1992, 94) and second-team three times (1993, 95, 99).
  • First-team All-Pro pick by Pro Football Weekly on four occasions (1992, 1994-95, 1998).
  • First-team All-Pro by the Pro Football Writers of America four times (1992-95).
  • First-team All-Pro selection by USA Today in 1996.
  • Recorded 10 or more tackles in a game 64 times.
  • Led team in tackles in 89 of his 230 career regular season games.
  • Led the Chargers in tackles in eight of his 13 seasons in San Diego.
  • Averaged 116 tackles a season and more than seven tackles a game over his San Diego career.
  • Is tied for second on San Diego’s all-time list for games played with 200.
  • Registered 56.5 sacks during his 20 seasons.
  • Selected by the San Diego Chargers with the fifth overall pick in the 1990 NFL Draft. He played in the NFL longer than any other first-round choice that year.

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