CAMDEN — As the new NFL season begins, 32 head coaches will guide their teams through five grueling months with one goal: to win the Super Bowl.
It’s no easy task for the guys calling the plays from the sidelines. Football coaches must be teachers, motivators, and disciplinarians to 53 elite athletes while they craft a winning game plan. Only 466 men have ever held the title of NFL head coach.
John Maxymuk, a Rutgers–Camden reference librarian, has chronicled the lives and achievements of each one of them in his new book, NFL Head Coaches: A Biographical Dictionary, 1920-2011(McFarland, 2012).
From early pro football pioneers like Paul Brown to today’s championship leaders like Bill Belichick, Maxymuk’s book is a definitive guide to every head coach in NFL history.
The book not only includes each coach’s won-loss record, but also describes their coaching lineage and their coaching styles and philosophies.
“Coaches are managers,” says Maxymuk, a Cherry Hill resident. “Each has a unique styles and each was influential in his own way.”
Maxymuk divides the book into two parts: head coaches from the NFL’s early days from 1920-32 and head coaches of the modern game from 1933 to the present day.
“The game changed a lot from those first 13 years,” Maxymuk says. “About 80 percent of the coaches in those days also played on the team. In researching the coaches, you’re also researching the history of the league and the evolution of the strategy of the game. It’s interesting to track that through the years.”
Maxymuk uses his book to trace coaching trends through history, from the growing use of assistant coaches and coordinators to the explosion of tactical variations employed on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
Many pro football fans like to debate their lists of the greatest players and coaches of all time. For his book, Maxymuk devised his own ranking formula to determine the best coach in history. He takes into account winning percentage, postseason appearances, and championships, among other metrics.
“Paul Brown comes out on top,” Maxymuk says, referring to the first coach of the Cleveland Browns who also inspired his team’s nickname. Many call Brown the father of modern football.
“Vince Lombardi and George Halas are second- and third-ranked coaches,” Maxymuk says.
Lombardi is the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers; Halas, the Hall-of-Fame Chicago Bears coach. Another Packer, Curly Lambeau, and the Dolphins’ Don Shula round out the top five coaches in Maxymuk’s rankings.
From researchers and statisticians to common fans, Maxymuk says his book is for all of those who enjoy the game.
“It’s for anyone who is interested in football,” he says.
Maxymuk is a reference librarian at Rutgers–Camden’s Paul Robeson Library. He is the author of several other NFL books, including Eagles by the Numbers: Jersey Numbers and the Players who Wore Them (Camino Books 2005); Uniform Numbers of the NFL: All-Time Rosters, Facts and Figures (McFarland, 2005); Eagles Facts and Trivia: Puzzlers for the Bird-Brained (Camino Books, 2006); and Quarterback Abstract (Triumph Books, 2009).
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Media Contact: Ed Moorhouse