Football lost one of it's greatest coaches, innovators and men yesterday.
Bill Walsh was perhaps most famous for popularizing the West Coast Offense. Nearly every modern NFL team incorporates some version of it in their playbook. He had the foresight to view the game going beyond the "Three yards and a cloud of dust" basic running attack. His innovations, along with other Hall of Fame coaches, revolutionized the sport and made it a more entertaining game to watch.
However, his legacy spreads far beyond game strategy.
Walsh was on the forefront of hiring Minority coaches, encouraging the league to further break down the Racial Barrier. His Coaching Tree (which is honestly more like a forest) includes the names of Lovie Smith, Tony Dungy, Ray Rhodes and Dennis Green...distinguished coaches who may not have gotten an opportunity were it not for the efforts of Bill and others like him.
His players laud him for his patience, his demanding nature that they constantly set higher goals for themselves and, most of all, for his ability to see the potential in them that they themselves didn't know they had.
Owners and coaches around the league are also unanimous in their assessment of Walsh: He played it fair, he played it straight and his 49er team was always one of the most difficult games on their schedules.
They also echo a similar sentiment about him off the field as well: As great a coach as he was, he was a much, much better man.
Rest in peace, Mr. Walsh. All of those who love the game of football will never forget the contributions you brought to the game and to the lives of those who knew you.