Jim Hanifan Dies at 87; Won Super Bowls with St. Louis, Washington as Assistant
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TOM GANNAM/Associated Press

Former NFL coach Jim Hanifan died Tuesday at the age of 87, according to the Associated Press. A cause of death has yet to be determined. 

Hanifan’s long coaching career included a stint as the St. Louis Cardinals head coach from 1980 to 1985 and a four-game spell as the Atlanta Falcons head coach in 1989. Those teams went 39-53-1 under his watch, and the Cardinals reached the postseason once. 

Kathy Hinder, Hanifan’s daughter, confirmed her father’s death to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She said it wasn’t related to COVID-19.

Hanifan’s long and successful coaching career also included stops as the Cardinals offensive line coach (1973-78), the San Diego Chargers offensive line and assistant head coach (1979), the Atlanta Falcons offensive line and assistant head coach (1987-89) and the offensive line coach for Washington (1990-96) and the St. Louis Rams (1997-03). 

He won Super Bowl titles with Washington and St. Louis and is considered one of the greatest offensive line coaches in the history of the NFL. 

“Would I have been a Hall of Famer without him as my coach? Probably not,” former Cardinals offensive tackle Dan Dierdorf wrote in the introduction to Hanifan’s biography, Beyond Xs and Os, My Thirty Years in the NFL (h/t the St. Louis Post-Dispatch). “When I thought who was the person who was the biggest influence on my professional career, it wasn’t even close. There was no one who could rival what Jim Hanifan did for me.”

Former Rams offensive lineman Adam Timmerman also spoke highly of his time with Hanifan, per the Post-Dispatch:

“I remember him coaching people, throughout my time in St. Louis, that I knew and he probably knew weren’t going to make the team. But he would coach them like every play for that team that year was going to depend on that guy. Even if he knew they were going to be cut in the afternoon, he would coach them up in the morning. Because that’s just kind of the guy he was.

“I think the best thing about Hanny was his wit and his passion for the game, and just how much he cared for people.”

Hanifan’s long career in football also included stops in the college ranks with Utah, California and San Diego State (where he first linked up with legendary head coach Don “Air” Coryell). And he played one season for the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts in 1955 before he was drafted into the U.S. Army.

After his coaching career he worked as an analyst for Rams broadcasts.

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