Monday, July 30, 2007
Bill Walsh 1931-2007
The sad news today is that Bill Walsh, the former coach of the San Francisco 49ers and Stanford Cardinal football teams, has passed away at the age of 75. The cause of death is leukemia, which was diagnosed three years ago.
Walsh was credited as a "genius" and an innovator and the like, but the thing that really set him apart was that he wasn't a screamer, like Vince Lombardi or Woody Hayes or Bill Parcells, and he wasn't a cold fish like Tom Landry or Bud Grant. He actually did treat his players as though they were adults. He had a sense of humor, most famously shown when dressed in a doorman's outfit and brought his players' bags into the hotel during the first of the three Super Bowl appearances the 49ers made when he was head coach.
Simply put, I wouldn't mind having Bill Walsh as my boss. That's a rarity in sports. Heck, it's a rarity in real life.
I don't want to get too sentimental here. Football, perhaps more than any other sport, is business at its most vicious, and the 49ers were no exception. Every Niner fan knows that Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott and Jerry Rice all ended their careers playing for other teams, with many productive seasons after the 49ers decided they were expendable. Part of that can be laid on the shoulders of Eddie DeBartolo and management, but Walsh has to take some blame for that as well.
For all that, I will miss Bill Walsh, and I send my heartfelt best wishes to his friends and family, from one of his many admirers.