Class of 2023
NFL Coach of the Year
1980 AFC — Oakland Raiders 34, San Diego Chargers 27
1981 AFC — Cincinnati Bengals 27, San Diego Chargers 7
AWARDS AND HONORS
NFL Coach of the Year
1974 (AP, SN, PW)
NFC Coach of the Year
1974 (UPI, PFWA)
AFC Coach of the Year
Full name: Donald David Coryell
Birthdate: Oct. 17, 1924
Died: July 1, 2010
Birthplace: Seattle, Washington
High school: Lincoln (Seattle, WA)
Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: Jan. 17, 2023.
Other members of the Class of 2023: Rondé Barber, Chuck Howley, Joe Klecko, Darrelle Revis, Ken Riley, Joe Thomas, Zach Thomas, DeMarcus Ware.
Coaching background: Head coach at Farrington High School (Honolulu, HI), 1952; head coach at University of British Columbia, 1953-54; head coach at Wenatchee Valley College, 1959; head coach at Fort Ord, 1956; head coach at Whittier College, 1957-59; assistant coach at University of Southern California, 1960; head coach at San Diego State, 1961-1972; head coach of St. Louis Cardinals, 1973-77; head coach of San Diego Chargers, 1978-1986.
Okay, I promised myself I will not cry.
There are so many people who had an impact on my dad personally and professionally that it would be impossible to thank everybody, so I'll just say “thank you” now before I forget.
The number one person I know he would thank is his wife, Aliisa, our mom who was his most valued assistant coach and his Air Coryell co-pilot.
This is the lady who would pin notes to my football-focused, absentminded dad's underwear so he wouldn't forget his appointments on his recruiting trips. Can you imagine? He couldn't possibly miss his appointments if he had to get his underwear out of his suitcase and see the notes pinned to them.
The hardest thing for me, my brother and the rest of our family is to challenge what my dad would've said if he were here, so I'll do my best. Here is hoping I don't channel his lisp.
What I'm sure of is that he would be humbled, grateful and maybe just a bit surprised that his legacy has lived on for all these years and is now forever recognized as being worthy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Growing up my dad was just my dad or pop. The stories that you might have heard about him being so focused on football that he would forget that I was in the car, driving me and the trash to San Diego State – Go Aztecs – rather than dropping me off at the school bus stop and the trash at the bottom of our very, very long, steep driveway, are all absolutely true.
So certainly, I was aware of his focus on football, watching make constantly scribbling on his ever-present yellow legal pad, but never really knowing or even considering as a young person how his doodling would forever change the game of football.
Lots of people tell me, especially his old ball players. There's Dan. How my dad either invented or improved so many offensive concepts. More importantly, that he was a player's coach and that the relationships he fostered were really the key to his success.
I believe that he felt that not only the Xs and Os were his work and passion, but also the lasting relationships that he built.
I never get tired of those stories and everyone's impressions of him. Timmy, where are you? And Hank? One of my earliest memories is of little Mindy playing on the living room floor, and a very young, very big John Madden coming over for dinner.
As he walks through the front door, he envelopes the entire door frame. My memory, I think he actually had to stoop to walk in through the front door. Big John said in his enshrinement speech that he believes that after the last fans leave for the day and the lights have been turned off and all the doors locked that the busts talk to each other. Can you imagine that?
Don't you wish you could be in that room listening to Big John, Pop and the other guys telling their stories? Oh, my gosh. And the laughter.
I want to personally congratulate and thank the Gold Jacket Class of 2023 and their families for their support and friendship over the last six months.
Lastly, our family would like to thank the Chargers and the Selectors, and of course the Pro Football Hall of Fame for this exceptional honor.
Ladies and gentlemen, Air Coryell has landed in Canton.
I broke my promise. Thank you.