Sid Gillman

Class of 1983

Career record




"The big play comes from the pass. God bless those runners because they get you the first down, give you ball control and keep your defense off the field. But if you want to ring the cash register, you have to pass.”

Enshrinement Speech

Career Highlights

After Bronko Nagurski flattened him in the first College All-Star game in 1934, Sid Gillman decided he might have a better future in coaching. It was a sound career decision. He began his coaching career, however, in an era that taught that running the ball was the surest way to victory.

It was a philosophy with which he disagreed. “The big play comes with the pass,” he would tell anyone who would take time to listen. “God bless those runners because they get you the first down, give you ball control and keep your defense off the field. But if you want to ring the cash register, you have to pass.”

Sid went on to become the foremost authority on forward passing offense. He was the first coach to produce divisional champions in both the National and American Football Leagues. Gillman’s first pro coaching job came in 1955 when he became the Los Angeles Rams head coach. In his first year he led the team to a division crown.

Five years later, when the AFL was founded, Gillman became the head coach and general manager of the Chargers, who played in Los Angeles in 1960 before settling in San Diego the next year. For the full decade of the AFL (1960-1969), Sid was the lifeblood of the Chargers and a major catalyst to an entire league in its life-and-death struggle. His high-scoring Chargers won divisional crowns five of the league’s first six seasons and the AFL title in 1963.

Sid's coaching was important but his organizational genius may have had even more lasting impact. As one observer noted, "Sid gave the Chargers image, impetus and respect and, in so doing, forced an entire league to adopt his methods just to remain competitive."

Full Name: Sidney Gillman

Birthdate: October 26, 1911

Birthplace: Minneapolis, Minnesota

High School: North (Minneapolis, Minn.)

Died: January 3, 2003

Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: January 29, 1983

Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: July 30, 1983

Presenter: Joe Madro, Long-time coaching associate

Other Members of Class of 1983: Bobby Bell, Sonny Jurgensen, Bobby Mitchell, Paul Warfield

Sid Gillman Enshrinement Speech 1983

Presenter: Joe Madro

You make me feel so ancient. I thought maybe I would need some device to help bring me up here. I am sorry I can’t give you Coach Gillman's dimensions because at that time we timed with alarm clocks and sun dials and the like. On with Sid Gillman. He was born in Minneapolis. went to North High School, graduated, of course, was recruited by the late Dr. George Houzer. who was then licensed at Ohio State and it turned out that it was a good selection for both? Sid was not only a fine football player and co-captain of the 1933 Buckeye football team. but he was very active on campus and always a leader. Because he has been selected. Three consecutive years as a Sophomore Duromitis as a Junior. the Bucket and Dipper, I don't know what that means. as a Senior a Sphinx. These are all highly prestigious honorary fraternities. He played three years as an end at Ohio State, two of which he was All-Big Ten and was selected to the All-American Football Team in 1933. We played in the first Chicago Tribune All-Star game against the Chicago Bears in that memorable 0-0 tie.

After that he played professional football with the original Los Angeles Rams which goes back pretty far and then became assistant coach of Ohio State Youngstown and Miami of Ohio. He got his first coaching job at Miami in 1934.  His career there was highlighted by great seasons and an undefeated season in 1947 and a win over Texas Tech in the Sun Bowl. In 1948, he went and joined Col. 0ldblake another Ohioan, who was then the famous coach at the U.S. Military Academy there on the Hudson. This gentleman then went to the Un. of Cincinnati and stayed there until 1955 until he became the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams taking the Rams to the professional championship game his first and rookie year. In 1960, Byron Hilton the owner of the San Diego Chargers, at that time they were the Los Angeles Chargers, selected him to coach with the Chargers who were a new entry into the newly formed American Football League. He gave offensive football an exciting, wide open and a flamboyant loo: He was a catalyst that gave AFL class, identity and credibility.

Now football is a piece of business as we all know and I'm just not talking about athletic talent. You have human insight to select a highly talented staff and many of his assistants from his original Chargers staff went out to become successful coaches and administrators. An example, Al Davis, who was an excellent coach, is the managing general partner of the Raiders who holds the winningest record of all professional football teams over the last 20 years and that doesn't include football only, that includes all coaching, baseball, hockey, basketball, etc. Chuck Knoll, who you will see this afternoon, a native of Cleveland and a highly successful coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the only four-time super bowl champion. Al LoCasale, executive assistant of the Raiders, Jack Faulkner, from Boardman, Ohio, is the executive manager of the LA Rams and former head coach of the Denver Broncos. Don Klosterman, former general manager of the Baltimore Colts and the Los Angeles Rams.

After leaving the Chargers, he coached and worked for the Houston Oilers, Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders, Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles. In 1974 he was named the NPC Coach of the Year. During his career be was involved in six professional football championship games. He has been innovative and inventive and his contributions to football unlimited. He was a pioneer way back in the old days when he was coaching in college. In the era and this era of mass participation and specialization he felt that skilled specialists would open up the game and would also refine it. It made the game faster, more spectacular and appealing to both the fans and players. He always had extra fascination and devotion for the passing game and its intricacies. He contributed much to its present scientific concept and refinement. Gillman was possibly the finest passing coach in the game's history. Having coached with Sid Sillman for 100 years. oh, I'm sorry·. I feel qualified to speak as both a coach and a man. He is well organized, an excellent teacher and student, along with being a super technician. He has a unique sense to pinpoint problems and come up with good decisions and solutions. As you and I have known. he is endowed with boundless energy, optimism, resource and drive. In spite of his work load he always has the time to take part in basketball charities and many other civic programs.

In, June of 1979 he underwent surgery for multi-heart artery bypass and by the start of the season he was back on the firing line coaching the quarterback of the Eagles. Last March he accepted a new challenge becoming the general manager of the Tulsa, Oklahoma Outlaws. an expansion team of the USFL. This is extraordinary, considering most of the teams have a much younger coaching staff. Gillman is keen on mind and young at heart. He continues to explore new football horizons, seeking. searching, finding. He lives in a reality that is always pursuing a dream. He is aware that you cannot reduce life to a mathematical or mechanical equation. I now have the privilege to present Coach Gillman, and I want to wish him well, Gods speed and everything it takes in his new venture.

Sid Gillman

Thank you, Joe, for those many kind words. You know I have been coaching for a long time and as you can appreciate, I have had a lot of prayers, and believe me, I have not had anything close in the way of prayers as I have had in these past few days. It has been incredible, the most fantastic experience that I have ever had in my life.

When I sat in the back of that car in the parade, J thought I was General MacArthur returning to the Philippines. It seems to me I made a great contribution to the parade because there seems to be a tremendous amount of Senior Citizens out there and they wanted to know who that nut was that still played kids games. Friends, it is great to be here. You know if the good Lord would ask me what I wanted out of life I wouldn't have had the guts to ask for anything more of a blessing that I have today. The first blessing that I received was about 38 years ago when I found the first-round pick and signed her to a no-cut, no-release contract. My wife, Esther, has been an inspiration to me over the years. We have had four great kids, not kids their all grown up, eight grandchildren and sons-in-laws. We have a most tremendous family and it is wonderful at an occasion of this kind to get all our folks together.

Now I have been blessed because I have the energy, stamina to be able to do what I wanted to do all my life. I have been coaching for some 50 years and during that time I coached some of the greatest young men I know and some of the most marvelous football coaches. It was because of those men that I am here today. Mort Jensen from Denison University; Tom Rogers, the guy who brought class and dignity to the coaching profession. I enjoyed Tom so much that I named my son after Tom Rogers. From Denison to my second job to my alma mater with Francis Schmidt. Francis Schmidt made a definite contribution to my life that if there was such a thing as a genius in the football business, offensive business. it had to be "Francis Schmidt. That Miami of Ohio which was the cradle. He established that cradle. It was Ara Parseghian. Ara Parseghian was as great a football player as he was known as a coach. Joe Madro, that fine gentleman that introduced me and has been with me so long. I have often felt that he is worth his weight in cold. Joe Madro is probably one of the greatest offensive coaches that the game has ever known. He joined me there at Miami of Ohio and, Joe. I just want you to know in front of the good Lord and everyone listening that I certainly appreciate the great work you have done over the years. Many, many rare, rare experiences in the role of West Point. I have often thought that the role of West Point Bill Blake is probably the best all-around college football coach I have ever known. At the University of Cincinnati, a 1954 team was a year in tact and what a great year it was and I think I am going to line them up after this, when this season is over and I am sure they are going to be able to run a couple of plays.

Now, the good Lord benefited me enough, I would have been very happy with a college experience, but we came to the pros. And can you image starting with the Los Angeles Rams and having a guy like Norm Van Bracklin, golden passer, to Eloy Hirsch and then to Tom Fears. all three of them are in that building in the Hall of Fame. And I also had two great general managers. The first of which is Tex Schramm, the tremendous rigger of the Dallas Cowboys, and my second general ''manager who is none other than Pete Rozelle., the commissioner of the NFL, and I still think they are probably a little mad at us yet in Los Angeles because at one time Pete and I combined the trade 10 for 1. The one that we traded for was Ollie Matson, who happens to be in the Hall of Fame, and the other joes, I don't know where they are, but God bless them, and I hope they are happy. And there to the San Diego Chargers and what a great, great team. And we had, as Joe mentioned, a who’s who on our coaching staff. Al Davis - Al has been a good friend of mine over the years and I so respect his talent. Chuck Knoll the winner of four Super Bowls, I would never let him go. Bum Phillips enjoyed a lot of winning and Chuck and Bum are now competing against each other today. But what players, Ron Mix - Hall of Fame, Lance Alworth - Hall of Fame. The best quarterback is now a congressman, Jack Kemp, and I am making a prediction that one of these days he is going to be the President of the United States. John ~adl and Tobin Rote and from there a brief period of time when the Dallas Cowboys just knoll after knoll appreciated the fact that Tom Landry is one of the great coaches of all time. Fact if Pact. The Houston Oilers what fun it was to awaken them to the day. Dan Pasterini a tremendous quarterback and you are going to hear about that young man yet. Lynn Dickie with the Green Bay Packers at the present time. Billy "White Shoes'' Johnson, Curly Culp, how could you lose with people like that.

And there was a brief period of time when the Chicago Bears were coached by Jim Pinks and the wonderful George Halas. We used to compete with George Halas, and I used to hate him, because I had a hell of a time trying to beat him. But when you work with a man, you learn to love him. And last but not least, the great Dick Vermeil, the young man whom I love and have such deep respect for with the Philadelphia Eagles. Dick is on a short leave, but he will be back.

Well, this has been a dream come true over these 50 years working with all these people and working with all these different clubs, and now this. And this to me is the greatest thrill. the greatest honor that any football person could receive. And I sincerely want to take this opportunity to give my heart filled thanks to all the coaches and all the players I have worked with over the years. The friends who came here to help us celebrate this great day, the selection committee who saw fit to pick me for this very prestigious situation, the City of Canton, you people are tremendous, the hospitality second to none. The Jewish Community Center for that lovely affair we had the other evening and all of you folks, thank you and God Bless you.