I had my friends Dan Fouts and Andy Reid write the forwards to my book “The View From The O-Line.” I thought I should share some of the reasons why, beginning this week with Dan Fouts. Dan’s representation of the relationship he had with his boys up front speaks to the importance of a good O – Line and the respect he had for: Billy Shields, Doug Wilkerson, Donny Macek, Russ Washington and Big Ed White (also a contributor in “A View From the O – Line”). It’s similar to the respect Peyton Manning had for his boys up front: Tarik Glenn, Ryan Lilja, Jeff Saturday, Jake Scott and Ryan Diem. Peyton’s locker at the practice facility was in the middle of his boys.
Dan’s journey to the NFL Hall of Fame wasn’t an easy one. He was a tough, feisty and very smart player who demanded a lot from himself and those around him. (Reminds me of Peyton). I’ve known Dan Fouts since I was a player and he was a ball boy for the 49ers. (Incidentally, his dad, Bob Fouts, was the 49ers play by play announcer for my 49er career). So I had naturally followed and been interested in Dan until I started coaching for the Chargers which was Dan’s second year. Tommy Prothro didn’t like Dan but we had to start him. He broke his thumb on the helmet of one of his lineman who got shoved onto Dan and rather than take a sack he tried to complete the pass and take a shot. The next year Bill Walsh became the offensive coordinator and trained Dan for the whole off season and thought he could be something. On the other hand, Tommy Prothro traded for Clint Longley who had had one hell of remarkable play for the Cowboys in a playoff game. In game 13 vs the 49ers Prothro insisted we bench Fouts and start Longley. That was a disaster for the first half (4 sacks and no production) so at half time Walsh stood up and challenged Prothro to go back to Fouts (0 sacks, moved the team and won the game). He learned how to be efficient from Walsh.
Coryell came in the next year and featured Dan Fouts with all his HOF characteristics: accuracy, discipline, intelligence, mental toughness, work ethic and leadership. The Chargers were damned good and their offense was a “machine”.
By the way, the year Dan went into the HOF he was broadcasting the 49ers Preseason games and they played the Seahawks where I coached. I greeted Dan before the game on the sidelines, hugged him and congratulated him about his induction. In typical Fouts form he smiled, stuck up his hand with that BLUE RING (HOF) and said “Ain’t bad for a ball boy”. I still laugh at his self effacing representation of his accomplishment.” I’ll look forward to seeing Dan at this years HOF where Tony Dungy and Marvin Harrison will be inducted.fouts-dan-image52c206f12dbbc

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