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Jim Fassel, longtime NFL coach, dies at 71

Las Vegas head coach Jim Fassel, center, looks on from the sideline.
Las Vegas coach Jim Fassel, center, looks on from the sideline during the United Football League title game against Florida in Omaha on Nov. 27, 2010. Las Vegas won 23-20.
(Associated Press)

Jim Fassel, a longtime NFL offensive coach who was the league’s coach of the year in 1997, has died at age 71.

Fassel’s son, John, confirmed his father’s death to the Los Angeles Times on Monday night, saying he got the news during a phone call in the afternoon. John Fassel formerly was the Rams’ special teams coach and briefly served as the team’s interim head coach.

Jim Fassel, who lived in Las Vegas, suffered chest pains Monday and was taken to a local hospital by a friend. He died of a heart attack while under sedation, his son said.

John Fassel provided The Times with a statement Tuesday morning on his father’s death:

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“It is with a very heavy heart to announce that we lost our Dad yesterday. Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. While our Dad will be remembered as a longtime fan and face of the football world, his legacy will live forever in our hearts as the greatest Dad and Grandpa of all time. He leaves behind his wife Kitty, their 5 kids and spouses, as well as 16 happy and healthy grandkids. We love you Dad.”

Jim Fassel was coach of the New York Giants from 1997 to 2003. He is one of three coaches to lead the Giants to the Super Bowl. His team lost to the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV at the end of the 2000 season.

He spent the bulk of his career as a quarterbacks and offensive coordinator in the college ranks (Utah — where he was later head coach — Weber State, Stanford) and NFL (Denver, Oakland, Arizona, Baltimore). His last football job was as head coach of the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League from 2009 to 2012.

A graduate of Anaheim High, Fassel played quarterback at Fullerton College, USC and Long Beach State. He was the Chicago Bears’ seventh-round selection in 1972. It led to stints that year with the San Diego Chargers and Houston Oilers before brief stops with the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts and The Hawaiians of the World Football League.

Shane Day already was the quarterbacks coach in San Francisco, but he could not turn down the opportunity to work with the Chargers’ Justin Herbert.


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