But Bill Walsh did

Sadly, ex-49er coach and football guru Bill Walsh left us this week, although he lived quite a full life before passing.

The media and blogosphere haven't stopped eulogizing the guy since, and deservedly so. Walsh was a leader of men, innovator in the sport, and driver behind minority coach hiring.

But for all the praise I've seen this week, the many memories that are being shared, nothing comes close to realizing Walsh's true greatness...because Michael Lewis already captured him perfectly in his football book, The Blind Side.

Just as Lewis used Moneyball to address sabermetrics/market valuations in baseball, The Blind Side described how forward-thinkers looked for advantages in professional football; I'm guessing most of you read the book, but its biggest insight was into the passing gameā€¦the role of the offensive and defensive tackles, the emergence of the West Coast Offense.

As the West Coast Offense already has been discussed six ways from Sunday, not to mention copied, the book didn't have the same groundbreaking impact as Moneyball; the human story, too, kind of overwhelmed the football.

But Lewis revisits what we now forget: Walsh was a jeered and lonely innovator, his passing game nearly too far ahead of his time. His first two years as NFL coach were an unsurprising failure (8-24); that we currently associate him with glory and the NFL Hall of Fame largely owes to the 49ers ownership not firing him before year 3. Yet the team--or more appropriately, the league--remains in Walsh's debt for developing the passing game that makes the NFL so exciting today.

So, when mourning Bill Walsh, please remember--great coach, sure, but even greater mind.

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posted by Crucifictorious @ 09:17,


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