In Friday’s column, I talk about how few former NFL quarterbacks have had much success in the league as head coaches. The gold standard, at his point, is Tom Flores, a Pro Bowl QB with the Raiders who later coached the club to two Super Bowl wins. (His record on the sideline with Oakland and Seattle: 97-87, .527.)
A handful of other ex-QBs, though, have at least had their moments as head coaches. Here’s the short list:
● Allie Sherman (backup with the Eagles in the ’40s) – Went 57-51-4/.527 with the Giants from 1961 to’68 and won three conference titles (1961-63). Alas, he lost the championship game each time. (Sam Huff probably hates him more than any man alive because Sherman traded Sam to Washington after the ’63 season. In a lovely bit of payback, Allie was on the losing end three years later when the Redskins whomped the Giants 72-41.)
● Sam Wyche (mostly a backup with the Bengals, Redskins, Lions and Cardinals in the ’60s and ’70s) – Went 84-107/.440 with the Bengals and Bucs from 1984 to ’95, but did lead Cincinnati to the playoffs twice … and to the Super Bowl in 1988 (when Joe Montana beat them with a late drive). His feud with Oilers coach Jerry Glanville – Wyche’s Bengals once dropped 61 points on Houston – provided great theater.
● John Rauch (mostly a backup with the New York Bulldogs/Yanks in the ’40s and ’50s) – Went 40-28-2/.586 with the Raiders and Bills from 1966 to’70. Guided the ’67 Oakland team to the Super Bowl (where Vince Lombardi’s Packers took them apart) and the ’68 club to the AFL championship game (where Hank Stram’s Chiefs upset them). So at least he lost big games to Hall of Fame coaches.
● Ted Marchibroda (mostly a backup with the Steelers in the ’50s) – Went 87-98-1/.470 in two stints with the Colts and one with the Ravens between 1975 and ’98. Took the Colts to the playoffs three straight years (1975-77, when they were in Baltimore) and to the AFC title game in ’95 (when they were in Indianapolis). The quarterback on that Indy team was Jim Harbaugh, the current coach of the 49ers (who visit FedEx Field this weekend).
All four of these coaches, by the way, backed up pretty good quarterbacks. Sherman backed up Tommy Thompson, who later led the Eagles to two titles. Wyche backed up Sonny Jurgensen and Billy Kilmer in Washington and Jim Hart in St. Louis. Rauch backed up Bobby Layne, another Hall of Famer. And Marchibroda backed up Jim Finks, who’s in Canton for his front office work with the Vikings, Bears and Saints but once led the NFL in touchdown passes.
One last thing about Ted’s playing career: In 1955, the Steelers kept him and cut a ninth-round draft pick named … Johnny Unitas. Oops.