Don McCafferty
No. 87
Personal information
Born:(1921-03-12)March 12, 1921
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Died:July 28, 1974(1974-07-28) (aged 53)
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, U.S.
Height:6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight:220 lb (100 kg)
Career information
High school:Cleveland (OH) Rhodes
College:Ohio State
NFL draft:1943 / Round: 13 / Pick: 116
Career history
As a player:
As a coach:
  • Kent State (1948–1958)
    Assistant coach
  • Baltimore Colts (1959–1962)
    Assistant coach
  • Baltimore Colts (1963–1969)
    Offensive coordinator
  • Baltimore Colts (1970–1972)
    Head coach
  • Detroit Lions (1973)
    Head coach
Career highlights and awards
Head coaching record
Regular season:28–17–2 (.617)
Postseason:4–1 (.800)
Career:32–18–2 (.635)
Player stats at PFR
Coaching stats at PFR

Donald William McCafferty (March 12, 1921 – July 28, 1974) was an American football player and coach who, in his first year as head coach of the Baltimore Colts, led the team to a victory in Super Bowl V, and became the first rookie head coach to win the Super Bowl.[1]

College career

McCafferty played college football for Ohio State University under coach Paul Brown, where he was a key member of the offensive line. Due to World War II, he was one of a select group of players to play twice in the annual College All-Star Game held in Chicago.

Professional career

After moving on to the National Football League (NFL), McCafferty was shifted to wide receiver, playing one season with the New York Giants in 1946.

Coaching career

After working in the Cleveland, Ohio, recreation department the following year, he was hired as an assistant at Kent State University in 1948. He spent eleven seasons with the Golden Flashes until accepting an assistant coaching position with the Baltimore Colts in 1959 under head coach Weeb Ewbank. During that first season at the professional level, McCafferty was part of the Colts' second straight championship team.

When Ewbank was fired after the 1962 season, McCafferty remained with the team as offensive backs coach under new head coach Don Shula. McCafferty's easy-going personality helped serve as a buffer against the demanding Shula's quest for perfection, a contrast that played a major part in the team's three NFL playoff appearances during the next seven years. Colts' Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas once said about McCafferty, "He doesn't shout and scream. He's able to look at football objectively without getting carried away emotionally." He was referred to in the press and by the Colts players as "Easy Rider."[2][3]

When Shula left after seven seasons in February 1970 for the Miami Dolphins,[4][5] McCafferty was promoted to head coach on April 6,[6][7][8] then led the Colts that season to an 11–2–1 record and their second Super Bowl appearance in three years. In the turnover-filled Super Bowl V against the Dallas Cowboys, the Colts won 16–13 on a last-second field goal by rookie Jim O'Brien.[9][10]

The Colts once again reached the playoffs in 1971, but were shut out 21–0 in the AFC Championship game by Shula's Dolphins in the Orange Bowl.[11] Ownership changed in 1972, and after only one win in the team's first five games, the last a 21–0 home shutout loss to Dallas, general manager Joe Thomas ordered the 39-year-old Unitas benched as the team's quarterback; when McCafferty refused, he was fired.[2]

McCafferty signed a three-year contract as head coach of the Detroit Lions three months later on January 26, 1973. He succeeded Joe Schmidt who had resigned two weeks prior.[12] The Lions finished 6–7–1 in McCafferty's only season in 1973.[13] On July 28, 1974, while spending some time at his nearby home in West Bloomfield, Michigan, he suffered a heart attack while mowing his lawn. After being transported to a Pontiac hospital, he died at age 53,[14][15][16] and was buried three days later, following services at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Timonium, Maryland.

Head coaching record

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
BAL 1970 11 2 1 .821 1st in AFC East 3 0 1.000 Super Bowl V champions
BAL 1971 10 4 0 .714 2nd in AFC East 1 1 1.000 Lost to the Miami Dolphins in AFC Championship
BAL 1972 1 4 0 .200 3rd in AFC East
BAL Total 22 10 1 .682 4 1 .800
DET 1973 6 7 1 .464 2nd in NFC Central
DET Total 6 7 1 .464
Total[17] 28 17 2 .617 4 1 .800


  1. ^ "Mind-blowing stats for the Super Bowl". National Football League. January 29, 2014. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Colts pick Sandusky as coach". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. October 17, 1972. p. 2, part 2.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Callahan, Tom (2006). Johnny U. New York: Crown. p. 219. ISBN 978-1-4000-8139-4.
  4. ^ "Shula replaces Miami's Wilson". Milwaukee Sentinel. UPI. February 19, 1970. p. 1, part 2.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Dollar signs convince Shula to jump to Miami Dolphins". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. February 19, 1970. p. 4D.
  6. ^ "Colts passed up 3 head coaches". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). Associated Press. April 7, 1970. p. 21.
  7. ^ Riker, Dan (April 7, 1970). "Don McCafferty, ex-Kent State mentor, is named Baltimore head coach". Youngstown Vindicator. (Ohio). UPI. p. 14.
  8. ^ "McCafferty Colt coach". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. April 7, 1970. p. 1, part 2.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "Super Bowl V - Dallas Cowboys vs. Baltimore Colts - January 17th, 1971". Retrieved 2018-06-07.
  10. ^ Maule, Tex (January 25, 1971). "Eleven big mistakes". Sports Illustrated. p. 12.
  11. ^ Underwood, John (January 11, 1972). "'They kept coming and coming'". Sports Illustrated. p. 15.
  12. ^ "Detroit Gets Ex‐Colt Coach," The Associated Press, Friday, January 26, 1973. Retrieved December 17, 2018
  13. ^ "Don McCafferty, N.F.L. Coach Of Colts and Lions, Is Dead," The Associated Press, Sunday, July 28, 1974. Retrieved December 17, 2018
  14. ^ "Lions shocked over coach's death". Ludington Daily News. (Michigan). UPI. July 29, 1974. p. 5.
  15. ^ "McCafferty death shocks grid world". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). Associated Press. July 29, 1974. p. 16.
  16. ^ "Lions pick Forzano after coach's death". Milwaukee Journal. press dispatches. July 29, 1974. p. 11, part 2.[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ Don McCafferty Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks –