Sidney Gillman (October 26, 1911 – January 3, 2003) was an
American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular American football field, field with goalposts at each end. ...

American football
player, coach and executive. Gillman's insistence on stretching the football field by throwing deep downfield passes, instead of short passes to
running back A running back (RB) is a member of the offensive backfieldThe offensive backfield is the area of an American football field behind the line of scrimmage. The offensive backfield can also refer to members of American football positions#Offense, ...
s or
wide receiver A wide receiver (WR), also referred to as a wideout, historically a split end, is an eligible receiver in gridiron football. A key skill position of the offense (American football), offense, WR gets its name from the player being split out "wi ...

wide receiver
s at the sides of the
line of scrimmage In gridiron football Gridiron football,"Gridiron football"
''Encyclop ...
, was instrumental in making football into the modern game that it is today. Gillman played football as an
end End, END, Ending, or variation, may refer to: End *In mathematics: **End (category theory) **End (topology) **End (graph theory) **End (graph_theory)#Cayley_graphs, End (group theory) (a subcase of the previous) **End (endomorphism) *In sports an ...
Ohio State University The Ohio State University, commonly Ohio State or OSU, is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of deliberately managing the release and spread of information between an individual or an organization ...
from 1931 to 1933. He played professionally for one season in 1936 with the
Cleveland Rams The professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular American football fiel ...
of the American Football League (1936), second American Football League. After serving as an assistant coach at Ohio State from 1938 to 1940, Gillman was the head football coach at Miami University from 1944 to 1947 and at the University of Cincinnati from 1949 to 1954, compiling a career college football record of 81–19–2. He then moved to the ranks of professional football, where he headed the NFL's Los Angeles Rams (1955–1959), the American Football League's Los Angeles and San Diego Chargers (1960–1969), and the NFL's Houston Oilers (1973–1974), amassing a career record of 123–104–7 in the National Football League and the American Football League. Gillman's 1963 San Diego Chargers season, 1963 San Diego Chargers won the AFL Championship. Gillman was inducted as a coach into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1989. He is the sole coach in the history of American football to have earned both honors.

Early life, family and education

Sidney Gillman was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to a Jewish family. He played college football at
Ohio State University The Ohio State University, commonly Ohio State or OSU, is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of deliberately managing the release and spread of information between an individual or an organization ...
under coach Sam Willaman, forming the basis of his offense. He was a team captain and All-Big Ten Conference End (gridiron football), end in 1933. While attending Ohio State, Gillman was a brother of the Nu chapter of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity.


Always deeply interested in the game, while working as a movie theater usher, he removed football segments from newsreels the theater would show, so that he could take them home and study them on a projector he had bought. This dedication to filmed football plays made Gillman the first coach to study game footage, something that all coaches do today. Gillman debated between pursuing a pro football career and entering coaching upon leaving college, with the Boston Redskins offering him a contract while Willaman wished to hire him as end coach at Case Western Reserve Spartans football, Western Reserve University. His participation in the inaugural Chicago College All-Star Game caused him to arrive late for Redskins training camp, and he would fail to make the team. He played one year in the American Football League (1936) for the
Cleveland Rams The professional American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular American football fiel ...
. He became an assistant coach at Denison University, Ohio State University, and was an assistant coach to Earl Blaik of United States Military Academy, Army, then head coach at Miami University and the University of Cincinnati. He spent 21 years as a college coach or head coach, and his total record for these years was 79–18–2. He returned to professional football as a head coach with the Los Angeles Rams, leading the team to the NFL's championship game, and then moved to the American Football League (AFL, 1960–1969), where he coached the History of the Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles and San Diego Chargers to five Western Division titles and one league championship in the first six years of the AFL's existence. His greatest coaching success came after he was persuaded by Barron Hilton, then the Chargers' majority owner, to become the head coach of the AFL franchise he planned to operate in Los Angeles. When the team's general manager, Frank Leahy, became ill during the Chargers' founding season, Gillman took on additional responsibilities as general manager. As the first coach of the Chargers, Gillman gave the team a mercurial personality that matched his own. He had much to do with the AFL being able to establish itself. Gillman was a thorough professional, and in order to compete with him, his peers had to learn pro ways. They learned, and the AFL became the genesis of modern professional football. "Sid Gillman brought class to the AFL," Oakland Raiders managing general partner Al Davis once said of the man he served under on that first Chargers team. "Being part of Sid's organization was like going to a laboratory for the highly developed science of professional football." Through Gillman's tenure as head coach, the Chargers went 87–57–6 and won five AFL Western Division titles. In 1963 they captured the only league championship the franchise ever won by outscoring the Boston Patriots, 51–10, in the American Football League championship game in Balboa Stadium. That game was a measure of Gillman's genius. He crafted a game plan, "Feast or Famine", that used Motion (American football), motion, then seldom seen, to negate the Patriots' blitzes. His plan freed running back Keith Lincoln to rush for 206 yards. In addition to Lincoln, on Gillman's teams through the '60s were these notable players: wide receiver Lance Alworth; offensive tackle Ron Mix; running back Paul Lowe; quarterback John Hadl; and defensive linemen Ernie Ladd and Earl Faison (Alworth and Mix are Pro Football Hall of Fame, Hall of Famers). Gillman was one of only two head coaches to hold that position for the entire 10-year existence of the American Football League (the other being fellow Hall of Fame coach Hank Stram, who coached the Dallas Texans (AFL), Dallas Texans and Kansas City Chiefs from 1960 through 1974). Gillman approached then-NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle in 1963 with the idea of having the champions of the AFL and the NFL play a single final game, but his idea was not implemented until the Super Bowl I, Super Bowl (originally titled the ''AFL-NFL World Championship Game'') was played in 1967. Following his tenure with San Diego, he coached the Houston Oilers for two years from 1973 to 1974, helping bring the club out of the funk it had been in for many seasons prior, and closer to playoff contention. He later served as the offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears in 1977 and as a consultant for Dick Vermeil's Philadelphia Eagles in 1980. In July 1983, at age 71, Gillman came out of retirement after an offer from Bill Tatham, Sr. and Bill Tatham, Jr., owners of the United States Football League (USFL) expansion team the Oklahoma Outlaws. Gillman agreed to serve as Director of Operations and signed quarterback Doug Williams (quarterback), Doug Williams, who later led the Washington Redskins to victory in Super Bowl XXII. Although Gillman signed a roster of players to play for the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based franchise, he was fired by Tatham six months later in a dispute over finances. Gilmman then served as a consultant for the USFL's Los Angeles Express (USFL), Los Angeles Express in 1984.


Gillman's influence on the modern game can be seen by listing the current and former coaches and executives who either played with him or coached for him: *Al LoCasale, an Oakland Raiders executive *George Blackburn (American football), George Blackburn, former coach for Miami RedHawks football, Miami (OH), Cincinnati Bearcats football, Cincinnati, and Virginia Cavaliers football, Virginia *Al Davis, late owner of the Oakland Raiders, Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders *Chuck Noll, coached the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl titles *Ara Parseghian, former coach at the University of Notre Dame who led the Fighting Irish to two national titles *Bo Schembechler, former coach at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, University of Michigan *Bill Walsh (American football coach), Bill Walsh, who coached the San Francisco 49ers to three Super Bowl titles *Chuck Knox, former head coach of Los Angeles Rams, Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks *Dick Vermeil, coached the St. Louis Rams to a Super Bowl title and the Philadelphia Eagles to the Super Bowl *George Allen (coach), George Allen, former coach of the Los Angeles Rams and Washington Redskins *Bum Phillips who coached for Gillman for 5 years in San Diego prior to coaching for him in Houston.

Coaching tree

''Numbers in parenthesis indicate Super Bowls won by Gillman's "descendants" as head coach, a total of 28.'' Don Coryell, the coach at San Diego State University when Gillman was coaching the San Diego Chargers, would bring his team to Chargers' practices to watch how Gillman ran his practices. Coryell went on to coach in the NFL, and some of his assistants, influenced by the Gillman style, included coaches Joe Gibbs, Ernie Zampese, Tom Bass (American football), Tom Bass, and Russ A. Molzahn. A larger and more extended version of Sid Gillman's coaching tree, which in some ways could be called a forest, can be found here.

Honors and awards

Gillman was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983, and into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1989. In 1990 he was inducted into the Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. Gillman is the only head coach in the American football to receive both these honors, each the pinnacle in its level.

Personal life and demise

Gillman and his wife Esther had four children and were married for 67 years (until his death). They resided in Carlsbad, California, Carlsbad, California before moving in 2001 to Century City in Los Angeles. On January 3, 2003, Gillman died in his sleep at age 91. He was interred in the Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California.

Head coaching record



See also

* List of American Football League players * List of National Football League head coaches with 50 wins


External links

* *
Cradle of Coaches Archive: A Legacy of Excellence - Sid Gillman
Miami University Libraries
Sid Gillman Collection, Cradle of Coaches Archive
Miami University Libraries {{DEFAULTSORT:Gillman, Sid 1911 births 2003 deaths American football ends Army Black Knights football coaches Chicago Bears coaches Cleveland Rams (AFL) players Denison Big Red football coaches Houston Oilers executives Houston Oilers head coaches Los Angeles Chargers executives Los Angeles Chargers head coaches Los Angeles Rams head coaches Miami RedHawks football coaches Ohio State Buckeyes football coaches Ohio State Buckeyes football players National Football League general managers National Football League offensive coordinators San Diego Chargers executives San Diego Chargers head coaches United States International Gulls athletic directors American Football League All-Time Team College Football Hall of Fame inductees Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees North Community High School alumni Sportspeople from Minneapolis Coaches of American football from Minnesota Players of American football from Minneapolis Jewish American sportspeople Burials at Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery 20th-century American Jews 21st-century American Jews Sports coaches from Minneapolis