Monday, July 30, 2007

Bill Walsh

Bill Walsh passed away today. He is another person whom I've never met who has influenced me a great deal. I remember at the old dojo on 6th street we held Superbowl trainings the day of the last 2 fortyniner appearances in the '80's. The first was the last pro game Walsh coached and the second was his team winning a second straight Superbowl but with George Seifert as coach. After the training we watched the game and, thankfully in both cases, celebrated a victory.

For me he was an example of a paradigm shift. Before his tenure the 49ers were lovable losers. Either totally inept or successful yet unable to get past NFL powers like the Dallas Cowboys in the big game. "The Catch" Montana to Clark that got the 49ers to the big dance is still etched in my psyche as if it were yesterday. And we've never looked at the 49ers in the same way since.

Walsh was an example of a systems man where mind and body functioned as equal partners in a team fashion. In the extremely physical world of pro football Walsh introduced concepts of creativity and flow to the offensive side of the ball. But make no mistake: his teams were tough and it flowed from their coach. He insisted he learned a lot about life and football from boxing at San Jose State University.

In addition he was a great evaluator of talent. He not only produced a unique system of football, but he found the Montanas, Rices, Youngs and Lotts to make that system work. I think this is underappreciated these days. I was sad to hear about his battle with leukemia, but he certainly conducted himself with great courage and dignity. Even though I never met him, I will miss him.


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