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Loyalty. (Here Below).

LOYALTY IS, of course, a beautiful thing in sports and coaching. When you have four, five, or six-man coaching staffs working intensely under pressure, you invariably have to have a special kind of relationship among the coaches.

We became conscious of this serendipity when we began spending a lot of time with the coaches in the newly formed American Football League in the 1960s.

When Sid Giliman was made head coach of the Chargers, he brought his two lifetime assistants, Joe Madro and Jack Faulkner with him. His third and fourth assistants were freshmen pro coaches named Al Davis and Chuck Noll.

In Faulkner's third year with the Chargers, he received an offer he couldn't refuse--the head coaching job with the Denver Broncos. That, of course, made him an "enemy" to his hard-nosed old mentor, Gillman, who never kissed assistants goodbye or wished them luck.

Faulkner's career with the Broncos lasted until the middle of 1964, when he was fired. By this time, Al Davis had become a guru with the Oakland Raiders. We were visiting him at the time Faulkner was fired, and we knew that the news hit him hard.

"I've got to call Jack," he said. Davis phoned Faulkner at home and we heard him speak reassuringly to him. We clearly remember his closing remark: "Look, Jack. It's going to be all right. You are going to get offers. But remember: You can have a job with the Raiders any time you choose."

We had a question for Davis when he turned back to us: "Are you going to let Sid Gillman know about Jack?"

"It isn't necessary," he said. "Jack told me that Sid had already called and offered him a job with the Chargers."

Some years later we told the story to our publisher, Bruce Weber.

"That's how it is with most head coaches," he told us. "When you work hard, do your job, sacrifice, they will always be there for you.

"Do you know that Sam Rutigliano went to high school with Al Davis and that they both started out in coaching as part-time recruiters. Sam went on to make it big as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns and then broke down when he lost his child in an automobile accident and then lost his job.

"One day the phone rang and it was Al Davis. He told Sam that anytime he wanted a job in the National Football League there was one waiting for him with the Oakland Raiders."

Irving Berlin once wrote a little jingle that could have been meant for football coaching staffs:

"Friendship, friendship/Just a perfect blendship/When other friendships are forgit/Ours will still be it."
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Title Annotation:Football coaches
Author:Masin, Herman L.
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2003
Words:450
Previous Article:Fundamentals. (Here Below).
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