The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced Wednesday that Don Coryell was named the coach/contributor finalist for the Class of 2023. Coryell has moved into the final stage of the selection process needed for induction, as the 49-person selection committee will now consider him for election in January.
Coryell needs 80% of the vote to be inducted. He emerged as the lone finalist over Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Holmgren, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and longtime executive John Wooten.
Inventor of the Air Coryell offense, Coryell used his offensive philosophy to succeed for 14 years in the NFL. Coryell went 111-83-1 (.572) in his career with the St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Chargers, winning five division tiles and having six 10-win seasons. Named Associated Press Coach of the Year in 1974, Coryell led the Cardinals to a 10-4 record and their first playoff appearance since the 1948 NFL Championship Game. The following year, the Cardinals earned an 11-win regular season that matched the franchise record for victories in a season (1948, 1925).
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The Chargers hired Coryell in 1978, and he went on to transform the game with the "Air Coryell" offense. The Chargers led the NFL in total offense five times, passing yards seven times and scoring three times. San Diego led the NFL in passing yards for six consecutive years from 1978 through 1983 while also leading the league in total offense four consecutive years from 1980 to 1983.
The Chargers reached the AFC Championship Game during the 1980 and 1981 seasons under Coryell. Prior to Coryell's hire, the Chargers did not have a winning record for eight consecutive seasons and failed to qualify for the playoffs since appearing in the AFL title game in 1965.
The 11 other candidates considered for finalist selection Tuesday were Holmgren, Kraft, Wooten, Roone Arledge, Frank "Bucko" Kilroy, Art Modell, Buddy Parker, Dan Reeves, Art Rooney Jr., Mike Shanahan and Clark Shaughnessy. Coryell is just one step away from the Hall of Fame after emerging as the finalist from the group.