Allie Sherman, the coach who led the New York Giants to NFL championship games in his first three seasons with a star-studded but aging roster, died Saturday at his home in Manhattan, his family said. He was 91.
Sherman's Giants lost to the Green Bay Packers in the 1961 and 1962 championship games and to the Chicago Bears in the 1963 title game. He was the NFL coach of the year in 1961 and 1962 and finished 57-51-4 in eight seasons with the Giants.
After posting a 33-8-1 record in his first three seasons, the Giants did not have a winning season in Sherman's final five years, with the struggles leading frustrated fans to chant "Goodbye Allie" at times.
Sherman was an innovator on offense and liked to throw the ball downfield with Y.A. Tittle, a future Hall of Famer, at quarterback. In 1966, he brought in placekicker Pete Gogolak from the then-AFL Buffalo Bills, making him the NFL's first soccer-style kicker.
The 5-foot-10 Sherman played quarterback at Brooklyn College and spent five seasons in the NFL as a backup with the Philadelphia Eagles. He served as the Giants' backfield coach from 1949 to '52 and was 36-26-2 as the head coach of the Canadian Football League's Winnipeg Blue Bombers from 1953 to '57.
He returned to the Giants as a scout in 1958, took over as offensive coach in 1959 when Vince Lombardi left for the Packers and became head coach after the 1960 season, inheriting a team that included Hall of Famer Rosie Grier, fullback Alex Webster — who would replace Sherman before the 1969 season— linebacker Sam Huff and cornerback Erich Barnes.
Sherman was born in Brooklyn in 1923, the son of Russian immigrants.
He is survived by his wife, Joan; a son, two daughters and two grandchildren.