For much of last week’s poll to decide who is the best coach not in the Hall of Fame, former Dallas Cowboys’ head coach Jimmy Johnson held a wide lead. Or so it seemed until he hit the back nine.
In the final day, in a fashion similar to some of the teams he coached in San Francisco, ex-49ers head coach George Seifert came on with a rush to catch Johnson at the wire. Since each has two Super Bowl titles on his resume maybe it was fitting they ended in a tie, each receiving 33% of your votes.
Former Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks coach Tom Flores wasn’t far behind. Flores is the only player in pro football history to have won rings as a player, assistant coach and head coach, the latter two coming when he ran the Oakland Raiders. Flores couldn’t completely close the gap but he finished with 27% of the vote.
Trailing that threesome was Dick Vermeil, who led the Eagles and the St. Louis Rams to the Super Bowl, winning with the latter. Despite your apparent ambivalence, for our Rick Gosselin, the selection was an easy one.
“Johnson engineered the greatest turnaround in NFL coaching annals, taking a 1-15 team to a Super Bowl championship inside of four seasons,” Gosselin said. “And he hand-picked all his players. That’s great coaching.”
Clark Judge was not as convinced, although in the end he too leaned toward Johnson.
“I’m leaning toward Jimmy Johnson, mostly because he built the Cowboys into the Team of the 1990s but I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t put any of these guys in the Hall,” Judge said. “I’m partial toward George Seifert because of what he did in San Francisco, and don’t tell me anyone could’ve won two Super Bowls with Bill Walsh’s players. Seifert won his second five years after Walsh left. Jimmy Johnson built the Cowboys into a powerhouse, then left them to Barry Switzer, who won a Super Bowl in his first season. But five years later?
“OK, so Seifert’s legacy is tainted by that three-year farewell tour in Carolina, with a 1-15 punctuation mark people can’t forget, but look what Johnson did in Miami with Dan Marino? Squat. In fact, he never won his division … and that was with a Hall of Fame quarterback. Seifert never won fewer than 10 games in any season with San Francisco, walked off with division titles in six of eight years there and produced a remarkable record of 98-30 in the regular season and 10-5 in the playoffs.”
Ron Borges sees it in simpler terms.
“There have been 473 head coaches in NFL history,” he said. “Of those only 22 have made it to the Hall of Fame. Although all four of these men had admirable success with Johnson’s perhaps the most complete since he not only coached the Cowboys but also drafted them, none did enough to join those 22.”
Photo courtesy of Dallas Cowboys