Charlie Joiner: Here's why Don Coryell belongs in Hall of Fame

Add Hall-of-Fame receiver Charlie Joiner to the chorus calling for former coach Don Coryell to be chosen to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


(Charlie Joiner photo courtesy of San Diego Chargers) 

Talk of Fame Network

Former wide receiver Charlie Joiner is in the Hall of Fame. His former coach, Don Coryell, is not.

Joiner would like to see that change. And soon.

No surprise there. When Joiner retired after the 1986 season he was the NFL's all-time leader in receptions and yards receiving, and playing in San Diego's "Air Coryell" offense is a primary reason why. Joiner never forgets what Coryell did for his career, always naming him as the first person he'd choose for selection to Canton.

“I think he was the first person to win 100 games in college and 100 games in the pros,” he said on this week's Talk of Fame Network broadcast. “That should be enough right there. Every team that he coached led the league in offense or had the biggest impact on offense in the entire league. If that’s not being an offensive genius and not merit the Hall of Fame, then they got a lot of people who shouldn’t be in there.”

Joiner, who played 11 seasons with the Chargers, started his career with Houston before moving to Cincinnati for four years. There he played for Hall-of-Fame coach Paul Brown who had him in a vastly different role at wide receiver than what Joiner was asked to do in San Diego.

“Don Coryell was the architect of modern-day football,” Joiner said. “He brought the passing game to life in this league. Unlike coach Brown … and I love coach Brown … but he wanted to run it twice and throw it on third down.

"Coryell didn’t agree with that. Coryell would throw it on first and second down, and we didn’t have to worry about third down … because we would complete one of those balls.

“I just think coach Coryell is the one person missing on that (Hall-of-Fame) list. He should be on that list as soon as possible.”

Joiner doesn’t have to worry. Coryell is on the list. In fact, he’s on the short list, making it to the final 10 of modern-era candidates last year. That makes him a real possibility for election in 2017, though it will be tough, with first-year candidates LaDainian Tomlinson and Jason Taylor joining holdovers that include Kurt Warner, Joe Jacoby, John Lynch, Terrell Davis and Edgerrin James.

But Joiner’s comments are important. Not only did he spend 19 years as a player in the NFL, he served another 26 as an assistant coach in San Diego, Buffalo and Kansas City -- with the lessons he learned from Brown and Coryell serving as his guide.

“(With) coach Brown I think you learn how to deal with people,” he said. “How to let people know you’re the boss; how to let people know you’re running the show; you let people know that if you don’t conform to what I’m doing you’re out of here. And Paul Brown, he was kind of a tyrant, but what he said goes and everybody knew it. It was his way,, or you were gone.

“Coach Coryell …I just think I learned the system, the offensive system. And the offensive system with coach Coryell was so simple it was unbelievable.

“But Paul Brown was kind of a tough guy, disciplined; you had to be disciplined. Coach Coryell was the kind of guy who just wanted to get some scores on the table for us, and let the rest of the game play for itself.”

Once, Monday Night Football taped Joiner and quarterback Dan Fouts throwing passes in practice – with Fouts blindfolded. First, Joiner ran an 8-yard sideline pattern; then he ran a skinny post. Both times, Fouts completed the passes.

“That comes from a lot of passes,” said Joiner. “It’s all timing. You throw to a spot. The way Don Coryell explained it, that ball would be thrown 22 yards down the field, two yards inside the numbers, if you take the proper stance with the proper release.

“And Dan would take five steps – don’t hold it; five steps and throw it to that spot. The receiver’s got to get there. And most of the time we would get there. And if you didn’t get to that spot … it was your fault.”