Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Thank You Bill Walsh

It's been a tough couple of days.

First Tom Snyder on Sunday night. Then Bill Walsh and Ingmar Bergman yesterday - which Cooper very astutely equated with the day that Jim Henson and Sammy Davis Jr. died. And now today Britney Spears has finalized her divorce from K-Fed.

That may be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

No, in all seriousness I just wanted to say a couple quick words about legendary San Francisco 49er coach Bill Walsh. I'm not going to write about what a great man he was because I didn't know him. And I'm not going to write about him being my favorite coach of all time because quite frankly I don't really remember him coaching - he retired when I was 9. But he did build and coach the team that was my first NFL love, the 49ers. And he mentored the quarterback that was my idol growing up, Joe Montana. So I do have a strong connection with him even if I don't specifically remember him doing those things.

I don't want to say that Walsh revolutionized the NFL because that might be a little strong but he definitely changed the way that head coaches coach. Walsh was the first to script the first 15 plays his offence would run in a game - a practice that is now copied by almost all the head coaches in the NFL. But more importantly, Walsh created the West Coast Offence - which is used, at least in some form, by, I would guess, at least 65% of teams in the NFL. He didn't get the nickname 'The Genius' for nothing. His coaching tree, which includes Super Bowl winning coaches George Seifert, Mike Shanahan, Mike Holmgren, and Jon Gruden, is unrivaled in the NFL.

I hadn't really planned on writing anything about Bill Walsh, because really, who am I to write anything about him, but after I had received a few sympathetic emails from people who know of my affinity for the 49ers, especially those teams from the mid to late 80's, I thought that I should write something. And now that I'm looking back and thinking about everything - those Walsh-led 49er teams are the reason I started following the NFL and fell in love with 4 down football. Oh, I'm sure I would have found the NFL eventually anyway, but I probably would have ended up a Cowboys fan or something.

So thank you Bill Walsh. Thanks for Joe Montana, for Jerry Rice, for Tom Rathman, for Ronnie Lott, for Roger Craig. Thanks for 5 Super Bowl wins. And thanks for sparing me the indignity of becoming a Dallas Cowboys fan.


don't ever retire favre said...

What's wrong with the cowboys....

How bout them cowboys
...... love that commercial... can't even think what it was advertising probably NFL merchandise... there's a couple of them where people mishear something... save the dolphins, these bills suck, gotta love those texans.....

As for Walsh.. he pre-dates when I started watching the NFL... I came in right at the end of the cowboys, but early enough for some great greenbay games even after the superbowl.. they had that grat fivalry with minny. I guess in a way can Thank Walsh, since Holmgren coached the packers. also you could through some other coaches in his tree...he helped create the minoity coaching program.. which marvin lewis went through and is now a league wide iniative.

now i'm thinking NFL and looking at the calendar in only a couple days....football begins.

Anonymous said...

When I remember Bill Walsh, I remember "The catch", I remember, Rice, Craig, Rathman, Haley, Montana, Lott but mostly I remember a class act coach who deeply cared for his players, fellow coaches and all in the 49'ers organization. A quality guy that made a profound impact on the game he loved. He changed the game no question, arguably more importantly, he touched the lives of his players. Those 49'er teams will march into infamy with the great Bill
Walsh on their shoulders. It is as it should be.