Jack Elway
Jack Elway (left), with his son John Elway (right) on a plaque at the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame
Biographical details
Born(1931-05-30)May 30, 1931
Aberdeen, Washington
DiedApril 15, 2001(2001-04-15) (aged 69)
Palm Springs, California
Playing career
1950Washington State
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1953–1960Port Angeles HS (WA)
1961–1966Grays Harbor College
1967–1971Montana (assistant)
1972–1975Washington State (assistant)
1976–1978Cal State Northridge
1979–1983San Jose State
1991–1992Frankfurt Galaxy
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
1993–1999Denver Broncos (scout)
Head coaching record
Overall80–60–4 (college)
10–10 (WLAF)
Accomplishments and honors
1 PCAA (1981)

John Albert Elway Sr. (May 30, 1931 – April 15, 2001) was an American football player and coach. He was the head coach at California State University, Northridge from 1976 to 1978, at San Jose State University from 1979 to 1983, and at Stanford University from 1984 to 1989, compiling a career college football record of 80–60–4. Elway also served as the head coach for the Frankfurt Galaxy of the World League of American Football (WLAF) from 1991 to 1992, tallying a mark of 10–10. He is the father of John Elway, Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback.

Early life

A native of Hoquiam, Washington, Elway played quarterback at Hoquiam High School under head coach Jack Swarthout and graduated in 1949. He played at Washington State College in Pullman for one season until a knee surgery ended his playing career. He earned both bachelor's and master's degrees from Washington State.[1][2]

Early coaching career

Elway then taught and coached at Port Angeles High School on the Olympic Peninsula; all three of his children were born in Port Angeles. In 1961, he was hired as the head coach at Grays Harbor College, a junior college in Aberdeen, near his hometown of Hoquiam in southwestern Washington. Following the 1966 season, he became an assistant coach in the Big Sky Conference at the University of Montana under head coach Swarthout, his high school coach.[1][2]

After five seasons in Missoula with the Grizzlies,[3] he moved to the Pac-8 at his alma mater following the 1971 season, as an assistant under head coach Jim Sweeney,[2] and stayed in Pullman for four seasons.[4] Sweeney abruptly resigned after the 1975 season and went south to Fresno State, so Elway stayed on the Palouse and joined the staff at neighboring Idaho under head coach Ed Troxel in February 1976.[5][6] Elway replaced Dennis Erickson, who had joined Sweeney at Fresno in December.[5] Elway didn't stay long as an assistant in Moscow; he left in late March after only five weeks on the Vandals' staff to accept a Division II head coaching position in Southern California.[7][8][9]

Head coaching career

In late March 1976, Elway was introduced as the head coach at Cal State Northridge in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles.[8][9] At the time, Elway's son John was a budding high school quarterback, finishing his freshman year at Pullman High School.[10] He transferred to Granada Hills High School at the start of his sophomore year, and his play over the next three football seasons in head coach Jack Neumeier's spread offense invited scores of scholarship offers; he selected Stanford and enrolled in 1979.[11]

After three seasons at Northridge, Jack Elway moved up the California coast (and up to Division I) to San Jose State following the 1978 season,[3] where his first offensive coordinator was Dennis Erickson. They employed the spread offense, which Elway had picked up from Neumeier and then used at Northridge.[12] San Jose State had considerable success, especially against nearby Stanford, where son John was the starting quarterback through the 1982 season.[13] Jack's Spartans won three consecutive games over Stanford from 1981 to 1983, and compiled a 35–20–1 (.634) record in five seasons.

After John's graduation, Jack moved the few miles up the peninsula to Stanford in 1984, where he was head coach for five seasons with a 25–29–2 (.464) record. In 1991, he coached the Frankfurt Galaxy of the WLAF during the team's first two years. Elway then was in the Denver Broncos' scouting department from 199399, the last five as director of pro scouting.[1]

Personal life

Elway was married to Jan. They had three children, including NFL Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway, and eight grandchildren. On April 15, 2001, Jack Elway died at age 69, following an apparent heart attack at his home in Palm Springs, California.[14]

He was buried at Sunset Memorial Park in his hometown of Hoquiam, Washington. His younger daughter Jana, twin sister of John, died of lung cancer in 2002 at the age of 42.[15][16][17]

Head coaching record


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Cal State Northridge Matadors (California Collegiate Athletic Association) (1976–1978)
1976 Cal State Northridge 8–3 0–2 3rd
1977 Cal State Northridge 7–3–1 1–1 2nd
1978 Cal State Northridge 5–5 0–2 3rd
Cal State Northridge: 20–11–1 1–5
San Jose State Spartans (Pacific Coast Athletic Association) (1979–1983)
1979 San Jose State 6–4–1 4–0–1 2nd
1980 San Jose State 7–4 3–2 3rd
1981 San Jose State 9–3 5–0 1st L California
1982 San Jose State 8–3 4–2 3rd
1983 San Jose State 5–6 3–3 T–3rd
San Jose State: 35–20–1 19–7–1
Stanford Cardinal (Pacific-10 Conference) (1984–1988)
1984 Stanford 5–6 3–5 T–7th
1985 Stanford 4–7 3–5 7th
1986 Stanford 8–4 5–3 T–4th L Gator
1987 Stanford 5–6 4–4 T–4th
1988 Stanford 3–6–2 1–5–2 9th
Stanford: 25–29–2 16–22–2
Total: 80–60–4
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Frankfurt Galaxy (WLAF) (1991–1992)
1991 Frankfurt Galaxy 7–3 1–1 3rd European
1992 Frankfurt Galaxy 3–7 3–1 2nd European
Frankfurt Galaxy: 10–10
Total: 10–10


  1. ^ a b c Smith, Craig (April 17, 2001). "Jack Elway, father and longtime coach, dead". Seattle Times. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Jack Elway Cougar aide". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). February 3, 1972. p. 16.
  3. ^ a b 'Modesto Bee - Spartans hire new coach - December 13, 1978 - p.D-7
  4. ^ ESPN.com - ESPN Classic - Jack Elway was major influence on son's career - Associated Press - April 22, 2001
  5. ^ a b "Idaho hires ex-WSU assistant Jack Elway as offensive coach". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). February 18, 1976. p. 1B.
  6. ^ "Idaho Staff adds Elway". Kingman Miner. (Arizona). Associated Press. February 18, 1976. p. 10.
  7. ^ "Short Cuts". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). March 26, 1976. p. 29.
  8. ^ a b "Elway gets coaching job in Cal". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). March 26, 1976. p. 3B.
  9. ^ a b "Jack Elway land head coaching job". Free Lance-Star. (Fredericksburg, Virginia. Associated Press. March 25, 1976. p. 10.
  10. ^ Pierce, Oliver (January 23, 1987). "From Pullman to Pasadena". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 17.
  11. ^ Ratto, Ray (October 17, 1982). "The delicious dilemma of John Elway". Family Weekly. p. 6.
  12. ^ SFGate.com - Jack Elway Dies at Age 69 / John Elway's dad coached Stanford, San Jose State - 2001-04-17
  13. ^ Olderman, Murray (November 6, 1981). "Elway discovers ups, downs". Nevada Daily Mail. (Missouri). NEA. p. 8.
  14. ^ Almond, Elliott; Wilner, Jon (April 17, 2001). "Beloved coach dead at age 69". San Jose Mercury News. Archived from the original on April 29, 2001. Retrieved May 9, 2020.
  15. ^ "Elway's twin sister dies at age 42 in Stanford". ESPN. Associated Press. July 25, 2002. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  16. ^ "Elway talks about losing his sister to lung cancer". KMGH-TV. (Denver). November 26, 2005. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  17. ^ Simers, T.J. (February 1, 2004). "Being John Elway not as easy as you think". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 26, 2016.