A glance at the top stories Friday afternoon on ESPN.com will tell you that The Netherlands beat Brazil in the World Cup; that Ghana and Uruguay played extra time to decide their World Cup match; that LeBron James met with the Heat and will meet with the Clippers; that Paul Pierce and the Celtics have agreed to a deal; that Dwayne Wade is “intrigued” by the New York Knicks; that Rafael Nadal reached the Wimbledon men’s finals to play some guy named Berdych; NASCAR will review the Chase format; Dirk Nowitzki received an offer from the Mavericks; Tiger Woods is in danger of missing the cut and that England will not fire its soccer coach.
But where is the news of Don Coryell’s death? Where can I find that story, or stories? Scroll down the page. NFL news, right? Oh, there’s two Adam Schefter links – surely it’s there, right? The Jets pondering JaMarcus Russell and a story on Flozell Adams. Huh?
Go to the NFL page. It’s not the main story, that’s some puff piece where the ESPN “experts” tell you which is the best division and team of all time. Look at the top stories – Michael Vick update, Chad Jones update, Vincent Jackson suspended, another Brett Favre story, Don Coryell died. Oh there it is. It’s only the fifth story of the day, less than 24 hours after his passing.
How sad is that? I know ESPN airs the World Cup, Wimbledon and the NBA, but how about paying the proper respect to one of the most innovative coaches in NFL history?
Did he win a Super Bowl? No. Did he even go to a Super Bowl? No. But his contributions to football go beyond wins and losses. The pass-happy NFL we know and love today are because of the genius innovations Coryell implemented with the St. Louis Cardinals and, more famously, the San Diego Chargers where Dan Fouts, John Jefferson and Kellen Winslow were parts of an offense that annually obliterated NFL passing records.
After John Wooden died, ESPN dedicated about 40 of the 60 minutes on SportsCenter to his life. ESPN.com’s front page was full of Wooden photos and story links. It was the right thing to do. This is probably the greatest basketball coach of all time and he deserved that.
While Coryell never won any championships, SportsCenter did not even give him a video montage. His death was simply reported in a 20-second blurb. And his obituary needed a couple of clicks to even find. He deserved better than that. But ESPN is not alone. Yahoo! Sports is just as guilty of not paying homage to Coryell’s life and genius.
Nowhere on its front page is a link to the Coryell story, unless if you count the ticker at the top of the feature slideshow. But if you go to the NFL homepage, Coryell is the No. 2 story, right behind Vick.
The two cities Coryell is best remembered in – San Diego, where he coached the Chargers and San Diego State University, and St. Louis – honored him well. The San Diego Tribune did a nice job and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recalled his importance to the game with the words of columnists Bernie Miklasz and Brian Burwell.
Sports Illustrated and CBSSports.com, for whom I also cover the Rams, had the Coryell story on their homepages. CBS’ Clark Judge had a nice column, as did NFL.com’s Vic Carucci. The Carucci article includes a three-minute video narrated by Steve Sobol and includes several words of praise from Coryell’s former players. Former Rams coach Dick Vermeil admits that Coryell’s offense was an inspiration for the Rams’ “Greatest Show on Turf” Super Bowl teams.
For Yahoo! Sports and more so, ESPN, to glaze over this man’s life and contributions is a severe oversight. It seems to me that ESPN is more interested in promoting its own programming than to acknowledge the man who is largely responsible for today’s NFL offenses.
This post can also be found at The Alton Telegraph.