With the recent passing of legendary coach Don Shula, what better time to rank the greatest head coaches in Pro Football History. I love lists, so let’s blow the whistle and count them down in descending order.
10. Bill Parcells
The Big Tuna improved every franchise he went to, winning two Super Bowls with the Giants and rebuilding the Patriots from laughingstock to AFC Champion in four short years.
He knew how to shop for the “groceries” and he knew how to cook a delicious meal.
9. George Halas
Papa Bear won 324 games, second-most ever, during a 40-year career which netted the Bears six World Championships.
8. Tom Landry
He brought the flex defense to America’s Team. God’s Coach led Dallas to five Super Bowl appearances winning two. The three losses came by a total of eleven points.
7. Chuck Noll
The most overlooked coach in league history, Noll won four Super Bowls while coaching the most complete roster in league history from 1974-1979. He had all-time talent at his avail. But, he pushed the right buttons in leading the dominant NFL franchise of the ’70s.
6. Joe Gibbs
Won three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks. Joe Theisman, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien. Three Quarterbacks that aren’t remotely close to being Hall of Famers.
5. Bill Walsh
Won three Super Bowls in an eight-year stretch. The professorial Walsh is the brightest offensive mind in league history.
4. Don Shula
Won two Super Bowls and an NFL Championship. Amazingly, in 33 years as a head coach, Shula had exactly two losing seasons. Shula was incredibly adaptable, winning with different styles. A defensive, running game centric team in the ’70s and with all-time great Quarterback Dan Marino in the ’80s and ’90s. Shula remains the all-time leader in wins with 347.
3. Bill Belichick
He has led the Patriots to nine Super Bowls, winning six. With 304 regular and postseason wins, the “Hoodie” is 43 wins behind Shula. At 68 I wouldn’t bet against Bill Belichick surpassing Halas and Shula to be atop the mountain in career wins.
Bill Belichick is facing pressure this season to prove he can win at a high level without Tom Brady.
2. Vince Lombardi
As an Italian-American, Lombardi is one of my idols. He won five NFL Championships in nine seasons with the Packers. In those nine years, Lombardi had an 89-29-4 regular season record and a 9-1 postseason mark. In the previous nine seasons (1950-58) before Lombardi arrived, the Packers had a 32-74-2 record with zero playoff appearances. In the nine years after Lombardi, the Packers went 54-67-5 with one playoff appearance.
Lombardi was decades ahead of his time, fighting against social, racial, and LGBTQ injustices.
1. Paul Brown
He is not only the greatest professional head football coach but I will also make the case that he is the greatest coach in U.S. sports history. He is essentially the father and inventor of the modern game. His coaching tree includes Don Shula, Bill Walsh, and Chuck Noll to name a few.
Brown won seven championships with the Browns. After a break, he was owner, GM & coach of the expansion Bengals, leading them to three playoff appearances in their first seven years of existence.
Paul Brown was Leonardo da Vinci. Paul Brown was Moses. Paul Brown remains the greatest coach in pro football history. I’m not the only one who thinks that to be gospel. Bill Belichick, certainly in the discussion for that title, believes Brown is the GOAT.
That’s good enough for me.
John Sapochetti is Co-Host
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