Mt. NFL Coach Rushmore

Papa BearThe proposition: say we’re doing a Mt. Rushmore for pro football coaches. We need four faces. It seems to me that three of them are obvious: George Halas, Vince Lombardi, and Bill Walsh. So, who’s the fourth?

Some nominees (and you’re going to have to stretch to make a case for anybody not on this list):

(Coach; Record; Pct.; Titles)

  • John Madden; 112-39-7; .731; 1
  • Don Shula; 347-173-6; .665; 2
  • Tony Dungy; 136-74; .648; 1
  • Joe Gibbs; 171-101; .629; 3
  • Bill Belichick; 142-85; .626; 3
  • Curly Lambeau; 229-134-22; .623; 6
  • Paul Brown; 170-108-6; .609; 3 (NFL only – numbers were 222-112-9;.660; 7 when you include AAFL record)
  • Tom Landry; 270-178; .601; 2
  • Chuck Noll; 209-156-1; .572; 4

What do you think?

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  1. Posted December 22, 2010 at 1:52 am | Permalink

    I have to go with Paul Brown. In addition to his career wins and founding two current NFL franchises, he also had a profound impact on the way coaches run games. Specifically, he was the first coach to call plays from the sidelines, a practice that has become universal everywhere except Indianapolis.

  2. Posted December 30, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    I dispute the notion that Bill Walsh is an obvious choice for the Mount Rushmore of professional football coaches. The two obvious names for me are Vince Lombardi and Paul Brown. I would lean toward Don Shula for a third spot and I feel that Bill Bilichick will eventually be the obvious guy for the fourth spot.

  3. wufnik
    Posted January 3, 2011 at 5:40 am | Permalink

    Agreed–Walsh is not obvious, although he was a great coach. But Shula and Landry have comparable claims, I think. Loved watching those Montana teams, though. But Brown does seem to be more integral to NFL history. Walsh was a coach, period–Brown transformed the league and the game.

    Also transformative, although not necessarily as a great a coach, was Weeb Ewbank. The 1969 Super Bowl remains perhaps the single most important football game ever played. Does that merit a place?

    Football coaches on US Stamps? I knew you’d be asking. Pop Warner, Knut Rockne, Bear Bryant, Walter Camp, Halas and Lombardi.

  4. Posted January 3, 2011 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Wait a second – where does the idea come from that Walsh didn’t transform the game? Before he came along there was this thing called the “long pass,” but he had this thing called the “West Coast offense.” Killed Al Davis and COMPLETELY changed the face of the NFL. Also, in addition to winning three Super Bowls, his disciples (Siefert, Shanahan, Holmgren, Gruden) won at least six more.

    • wufnik
      Posted January 3, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      OK, I didn’t express myself well there. Yes, Walsh changed the way the game is played–as did a number of coaches. I take the point. I was just saying that Brown did that too–changed the way the game was played. But Brown’s importance goes beyond that– not only in terms of influence on coaches (including Walsh–where does the West Coast offense come from?) and the people who played for him (Shula, Saban, Parseghian, Noll, Graham…the list goes on), but in terms of his influence on the development of the NFL itself. He helped found and establish two teams, and was integral in the first major merger of two leagues–it was the Browns that made that merger the success it was. Like Walsh, he has a stadium named after him. Unlike Walsh, he also has a team named after him.

  5. Posted January 3, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    I’m not arguing against Brown. I think Brown would probably get my 4th slot with Halas, Lombardi and Walsh.

  6. fikshun
    Posted January 4, 2011 at 3:44 am | Permalink

    Brown also was instrumental in breaking down the race barrier in football. He was the first to add a black player to his team and would cancel team reservations at hotels if the hotel would not allow their black players to room there.

    Walsh’s “West Coast Offense” actually began in Cincinnati under Brown. Brown’s biggest mistake was not giving Walsh the head coaching job when he retired from coaching.

    Brown recommended Lombardi for the Green Bay job, after turning it down himself.

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