Don Heinrich
refer to caption
1954 Bowman football card
No. 11
Personal information
Born:(1930-09-19)September 19, 1930
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died:February 29, 1992(1992-02-29) (aged 61)
Saratoga, California, U.S.
Height:6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight:182 lb (83 kg)
Career information
High school:Bremerton (WA)
NFL Draft:1952 / Round: 3 / Pick: 35
Career history
As a player:
As a coach:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played:56
Passing yards:2,287
Passer rating:49.6
Player stats at · PFR

Donald Alan Heinrich (September 19, 1930 – February 29, 1992) was an American football player, coach, and announcer. He played professionally as a quarterback in National Football League (NFL) for the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys. He also was a member of the Oakland Raiders in the American Football League (AFL). Heinrich played college football at the University of Washington.[1][2][3][4]

Early years

Born in Chicago, Heinrich was raised in western Washington and graduated from Bremerton High School, west of Seattle, in 1948. As a senior in the fall of 1947, he led the Wildcats to the mythical state title.[5] That winter, he contributed to the basketball team finishing in second-place at state.[6]

College career

Heinrich served in the U.S. Army from 1952 to 1953.

Heinrich played quarterback at Washington in Seattle, leading the nation in passing in 1950 and 1952,[7][8] and setting many of the school's passing records. His 60.9 completion percentage in 1950 set an NCAA record. Heinrich missed the 1951 season due to a pre-season shoulder separation,[9][10] and was selected in the third round of the 1952 NFL Draft, but stayed in college and played his fifth-year senior season with the Huskies in 1952.

He was inducted into the U.S. Army that November,[11] prior to the Apple Cup in Spokane against Washington State, but was granted a pass to play.[12][13] The Cougars had won the previous year in Husky Stadium while Heinrich was sidelined, but he led the Huskies to a 33–27 victory in 1952,[14][15][16] and finished 3–0 in his career against WSC.

Heinrich played two seasons (1949, 1950) with hall of fame running back Hugh McElhenny. They were expected to play together for three, but Heinrich's shoulder injury put junior Sam Mitchell and sophomore Dean Rockey at quarterback in 1951;[17] after three wins in their first four games, Washington went winless and fell to 3–6–1.[18]

Professional career

New York Giants

Heinrich was selected by the New York Giants in the third round (35th overall) of the 1952 NFL Draft with a future draft pick, which allowed the team to draft him before his college eligibility was over.

He served in the military for just under two years, and also got a chance to play football for Fort Ord. He missed the 1953 season and reported to the Giants in 1954.[19] While in the army, he played for the Fort Ord Warriors,[19] which included running back Ollie Matson.

In his six seasons with the Giants, he saw action in three NFL championship games (1956, 1958, 1959), while being the starting quarterback of the 1956 title team. With Vince Lombardi as the Giants' offensive coordinator (1954–58), Heinrich split time at quarterback with Charlie Conerly, with him being used to probe defenses and Conerly coming into the games to capitalize on weaknesses.[20]

Dallas Cowboys

Heinrich was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the 1960 expansion draft. He reunited with head coach was Tom Landry, who was the defensive coordinator with the Giants. Heinrich again shared time at quarterback, with veteran Eddie LeBaron and rookie Don Meredith.[2]

Oakland Raiders

On July 9, 1962, he returned as a player after the American Football League Oakland Raiders bought his rights from the NFL's Cowboys.[21][22] The Raiders needed quarterback depth after learning that the previous year's No. 1 draft choice, Tom Flores, would miss the season due to a lung infection.

Coaching career

In 1961, Heinrich returned to the Giants as a backfield coach under newly-promoted head coach Allie Sherman. From 1963 to 1964, he was the backfield coach for the Los Angeles Rams, under former Giants teammate Harland Svare. In 1965, he was hired as a scout for the expansion Atlanta Falcons.

From 1966 to 1968, he was the assistant for offense and called the plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers under former Giants teammate Bill Austin. From 1969 to 1970, he was the backfield coach for the New Orleans Saints under Tom Fears. From 1971 to 1975, he began as the defensive backfield coach before being moved to the passing-receiving coach for the San Francisco 49ers under Dick Nolan.[2]

Broadcasting career

In 1976, Heinrich began his broadcasting career, working first on Washington Huskies games and also as the first radio game analyst for the Seattle Seahawks Radio Network (working with Pete Gross and Wayne Cody) and then becoming an analyst for the 49ers' games. In 1983 and 1984, Heinrich was a color analyst for ESPN and ABC broadcasts of the United States Football League (USFL).

Heinrich worked with Preview Sports Publications, with whom he published the magazines Don Heinrich's College Football and Don Heinrich's Pro Preview, until his death. In 1991, he was the analyst for Pac-10 games on Prime Ticket, a cable channel based in Los Angeles.

Honors and death

In 1974, he was inducted into the State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame. In 1981, he was inducted into the Husky Hall of Fame. In 1987, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. In 1990, he was named the starting quarterback on Washington's Centennial Team.

Heinrich was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in June 1991,[23] and died at age 61 at his home in Saratoga, California.[2]

See also


  1. ^ "Husky football star Don Heinrich dies at 62". Spokane Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. March 2, 1992. p. C1.
  2. ^ a b c d Rockne, Dick (March 2, 1992). "UW great Heinrich dies of cancer -- Qb synonymous with Husky football". Seattle Times. Retrieved February 14, 2016.
  3. ^ "Don Heinrich is dead; football star was 62". New York Times. (obituary). March 2, 1992. Retrieved February 14, 2016.
  4. ^ Florence, Mal (March 4, 1992). "Heinrich stayed close to his ties in football". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 14, 2023.
  5. ^ Barron, Chris (December 31, 1999). "West Sound Athletes of the Century: Football / male - Don Heinrich". Kitsap Sun. (Bremerton, Washington). Retrieved February 14, 2023.
  6. ^ "Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame - Don Heinrich". Kitsap Sun. (Bremerton, Washington). January 5, 2006. Retrieved February 14, 2023.
  7. ^ "Washington's Don Heinrich is nation's top passing champ". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. (Florida). Associated Press. December 11, 1952. p. 14. Retrieved February 14, 2023.
  8. ^ "NCAA Football Annual Leaders". Hickok Sports. Archived from the original on 2009-07-27. Retrieved February 14, 2023.
  9. ^ "Don Heinrich injured". St. Petersburg Times. (Florida). Associated Press. September 9, 1951. p. 54. Retrieved February 14, 2023.
  10. ^ "Huskies dump Montana, 58-7". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. September 23, 1951. p. 8.
  11. ^ "Heinrich called for induction in Army on Nov. 24". Ellensburg Daily Record. (Washington). Associated Press. November 13, 1952. p. 1. Retrieved February 14, 2023.
  12. ^ "Heinrich plans blazing finale". Lewiston Daily Sun. (Maine). Associated Press. November 29, 1952. p. 8. Retrieved February 14, 2023.
  13. ^ "29,000 due to pack Memorial Stadium". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). November 29, 1952. p. 9. Retrieved February 14, 2023.
  14. ^ "Don Heinrich earns pass title as Huskies edge WSC 33-27". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. November 30, 1952. p. 10.
  15. ^ "Huskies tip WSC 33-27". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). United Press. November 30, 1952. p. 1C.
  16. ^ "Spokane's Beckel praised for play against Huskies". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). December 1, 1952. p. 15.
  17. ^ "Huskies batter Grizzles, 58-7". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. September 23, 1951. p. 14.
  18. ^ "Second-half Washington State rally downs Huskies 27-25". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. November 25, 1951. p. 8.
  19. ^ a b "Don Heinrich to play with Giants in 1954". Lodi News-Sentinel. (California). United Press. January 5, 1954. p. 6. Retrieved February 14, 2023.
  20. ^ "Another sacred sports cow has been slain". Wilmington Morning Star. (North Carolina). UPI. November 10, 1971. p. 20. Retrieved February 14, 2023.
  21. ^ "Cowboys sell Heinrich to weakened Oakland". Victoria Advocate. (Texas). Associated Press. July 10, 1962. p. 7.
  22. ^ "Oakland gets Don Heinrich". Gadsden Times. (Alabama). UPI. July 12, 1962. p. 10. Retrieved February 14, 2023.
  23. ^ "Don Heinrich has cancer". Ellensburg Daily Record. Washington. Associated Press. December 19, 1991. p. 12. Retrieved February 14, 2023.