Super Bowl LVII kicks off at State Farm Stadium in Glendale on February 12, 2023 on FOX. For NFL fans watching from the cozy confines of their house, to viewing parties everywhere, the game is an all day event. For the winning team and coach, it is a crowning achievement, whereas for the losing team, it’s knowing that getting to Super Sunday is one thing, lifting a Lombardi Trophy is something else.
The history of the Super Bowl is littered with big plays, big names on the back of a jersey, and coaches who in many ways are as visible and popular as any player on the field. Names like Madden, Shula, Landry, and as Belichick, Knoll, and Parcells. But for all those names who are attached to winning a Super Bowl, there are many great names who did not. Here are five names worth a lot of blood, sweat, and tears for the work they did, but were never able to close the deal and win the last game of the season.
5. Bud Grant – Minnesota Vikings (1967-1983; 1885).
Harry Peter “Bud” Grant Jr., was the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings as well as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (1957-1966) before settling in with the famed Purple People Eaters in 1967. Since 1986, he has been an active consultant for the team.
Only person who played in both the NFL and NBA: Bud Grant.
Only person who played in the NFL and NBA and CFL: Bud Grant.
Only person who played in the NFL and NBA and CFL and coached in the NFL and CFL: Bud Grant.pic.twitter.com/ijqdLQmtPI
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) May 21, 2020
The Vikings were a remarkable team in the early years and for a solid part of the early 1980’s. They have sent 22 former players to the Hall of Fame, including Alan Page, Jim Marshall, Ron Yary, Fran Tarkenton (who also played for the New York Giants), as well as the legendary Grant. Still, despite that talent, they could never win a Super Bowl.
Grant has a regular season record of 158–96–5 (.620) and a postseason record of 10–12 (.455). Despite this success and HOF players, a championship ring never materialized in Minnesota after four attempts, (1970, 1974, 1975, and 1977).
Bud Grant would retire from coaching after the 1985 NFL season.
4. Sam Wyche – Cincinnati Bengals (1984-1991), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1992-1995)
Samuel David Wyche, head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals and later the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is a legend in the Queen City as well as a quarterback in the NFL. Wyche, who played his college football at Furman, also was a quarterback on five teams. From 1968, he played with the Bengals, Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions, St. Louis Cardinals, and finished his professional career with the Buffalo Bills in 1976.
His career in Cincinnati began slowly, having finished second in the division during his first three seasons. After a disastrous 4-11 in 1987, Wyche would turn the Bengals around and go to their second Super Bowl in 1989. They would lose 20–16 to the San Francisco 49ers, who would score a touchdown with 00:34 seconds left on a game winning pass from Joe Montana.
Wyche was an innovator who made the hurry-up/no-huddle offense part of his game plan versus only in late game situations. He would also send 12 players out for an offensive huddle only to use the opportunity to catch the defense with the wrong personnel. The NFL would later adopt a rule so defenses could match the offensive substitutions before a snap was allowed.
On December 10, 1989, during a game against the Seattle Seahawks, Bengals fans began to throw snowballs onto the field protesting what they saw as a bad call. The Seahawks who were at their own four-yard line refused to continue play until the fans stopped. In a now famous moment captured by NFL Films, Wyche grabbed a field microphone to calm the fans down. He also used the occasion to take a shot at the Cleveland Browns.
“Will the next person that sees anybody throw anything onto this field, point ’em out, and get ’em out of here. You don’t live in Cleveland, you live in Cincinnati!” Courtesy of cincinnati.com
Bengals, fans. You haven’t had much this season, so here ya go…
“You don’t live in Cleveland. You live in Cincinnati!” – 30 years ago today.
Pay homage. pic.twitter.com/YPsRaF3jP9
— HOMAGE (@HOMAGE) December 10, 2019
From 1984 to 1991, Sam Wyche had 64 wins with the Bengals, the most by a coach in franchise history until he was surpassed by Marvin Lewis in 2011. His overall coaching record as a head coach in the NFL is 84–107 (.440), and 3–2 (.600) in postseason play.
In 2019, Wyche was diagnosed with melanoma and died at his home in Pickens, South Carolina, on January 2, 2020, three days short of his 75th birthday.
3. Don Coryell – St. Louis Cardinals (1973-1977), San Diego Chargers (1978-1986)
Donald David Coryell was an offensive wizard. A visionary before his time. Known as “Air Coryell”, the head coach began implementing an aggressive passing game in college while at San Diego State and took that same type of game with him to the NFL, with his first stop in St. Louis. In three consecutive seasons, the Cardinals had three straight seasons of double-digit victories, winning two consecutive division titles in 1974 and 1975.
Remembering “the father of the modern passing game” former #BigRed head coach Don Coryell who was born OTD 1924. Coryell led the Cardiac Cards to NFC East titles in ‘74-75. He took a doormat organization to a 31-11 record from ‘74-76. pic.twitter.com/SxgDcRdmT3
— St. Louis Football Cardinals (@BigRed_STL) October 17, 2019
During the 1975 season, an absolutely golden age of pro football, the “Cardiac Cardinals” won seven games in the final minute of play. The Cardinals franchise would start their season 7–0. From an historical perspective, they would not start a season as well as 7-0 until 2021, the franchise’s 33rd in Arizona.
Coryell would return to the San Diego area on September 25, 1978 as head coach of the Chargers. The team had started that season 1-3 under head coach Tommy Prothro, who believed the team could be much better. Prothro would resign, opening the door for Coryell. Things did not begin smoothly, as the Chargers dropped three of their first four games. San Diego would then go on a winning streak to take seven of their last eight games. Under Prothro, the team averaged 15 ¼ points in their first four games and 24 ½ in their last twelve under Coryell. The Chargers would finish the 1978 season with a 9–7 record, their first winning campaign since 1969.
The following three seasons San Diego won the first of three AFC West titles in 1979, 1980, 1981, and reached the playoffs four consecutive times. With quarterback Dan Fouts, a third-round pick in the 1973 NFL Draft, “Air Coryell” would become one of the greatest passing offenses in the league. With Fouts under center, they would lead the league in total yards in offense in 1980–1983 and 1985. However, the gaudy padding numbers that could control a game, never materialized into a Super Bowl. His 3-6 postseason record gives rise to that argument.
Coryell is one of those coaches who seemed to be ahead of his time. His inability to get the San Diego Chargers to a Super Bowl came at a time when the AFC West as well as the conference as a whole was the toughest in football. Don Coryell died on July 1, 2010 at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa, California. At his eulogy, former Raiders head coach John Madden noted the following:
“You know, I’m sitting down there in front, and next to me is Joe Gibbs, and next to him is Dan Fouts, and the three of us are in the Hall of Fame because of Don Coryell.” Courtesy of sandiegouniontribune.com
2. Marty Schottenheimer – Cleveland Browns (1984-1988), Kansas City Chiefs (1989-1998), Washington Redskins (2001), San Diego Chargers (2002-2006)
Martin Edward Schottenheimer was a football lifer. His playing career began in the old AFL with the Buffalo Bills in 1965, and concluded in Baltimore with the Colts in 1971. His notoriety came on the NFL sidelines for four teams as a head coach.
BOTD Marty Schottenheimer
“There’s a gleam men, there’s a gleam.
Let’s get the gleam alright?”#Gleam #Browns pic.twitter.com/wRU6WWAXgO
— Old Time Football 🏈 (@Ol_TimeFootball) September 23, 2022
Schottenheimer had regular season success, leading to a record of 200–126–1 (.613). However, he struggled in the playoffs, reaching the postseason 13 times with a record of 5–13 (.278). He was named NFL Coach of the Year while with the San Diego Chargers in 2004 for leading a team that went 4–12 the previous year to a 12–4 record. Schottenheimer would win only five of his 18 postseason games, never advancing beyond the conference championship round of the playoffs. His .613 regular season winning percentage was torpedoed by his .278 playoff losing percentage.
In 2011, Schottenheimer was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. On February 3, 2021, his family announced he had been put into hospice care the previous Saturday. He would pass five days later on February 8, 2021, in Charlotte, North Carolina at the age of 77.
1. Marv Levy – Kansas City Chiefs (1978-1982), Buffalo Bills (1986-1997)
Marvin Daniel Levy is one of those hard-luck coaches who got so close to the pinnacle of his career, that it belies logic a Super Bowl win would be so elusive.
He coached five seasons in Kansas City and compiled a record of 31-42. His career coaching record of 143-112 includes his tenure as the head coach in Buffalo. It was in 1988 when the Bills would dominate, winning the first of six AFC East titles. His high powered No-huddle offense would help lead Buffalo to four Super Bowl appearances, winning none. His only championships would be in Canada, where he won two Grey Cup Trophies.
"The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender." – Marv Levy#MotivationMonday | #MondayMotivation pic.twitter.com/zW3iLmsQED
— Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) November 23, 2020
Levy would retire in 1997, before returning to Buffalo as their general manager in 2006, a position he held until finally stepping away in 2007.