Former Denver Broncos Head Coach Lou Saban died this morning in his home in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., his wife said.
Saban, 87, died at about 4 a.m., said his wife Joyce in a telephone interview. He had suffered heart issues for years and recently suffered a fall that required hospitalization, she said.
Saban was born in Brookfield in 1921 and was a 1940 graduate of Lyons Township High School, according to the school’s Web site. He then attended Indiana University, where he starred on the school’s football team.
After playing for the Cleveland Browns from 1946 to 1949, Saban took his first head coaching position at Case Institute of Technology in Cleveland in 1950, according to a 1989 Tribune article. He also held head coaching jobs at Northwestern University, Western Illinois University, the University of Maryland, the University of Miami, Army and the University of Central Florida.
Professionally, Saban was the original coach of the American Football League’s Boston (now New England) Patriots. He later coached the Buffalo Bills, which he coached to the 1964 and 1965 AFL Championships, and the Denver Broncos. After the league merged with the NFL, he returned to Buffalo for five years from 1972 to 1976.
He has also been general manager of the Broncos, athletic director at Miami and president of the New York Yankees organization, according to the 1989 story.
Saban coached the Broncos from 1967-1971.
In the early 1960s the Buffalo Bills enjoyed an era of glory. The driving force behind it was Lou Saban, whose style of coaching won him the respect, love, and loyalty of his players. “Trader Lou” came to the Buffalo Bills as head coach in 1962, from the Patriots. He set to work building the Bills into a formidable defensive team, with a strong offense as well. His record at Buffalo during the AFL years was 36-17-3, with winning seasons in each of his four years.
In 1964 and 1965, the Bills went 12-2 and 10-3-1, en route to consecutive AFL championships. Saban was the only man ever to achieve that honor. He was named Coach of the Year twice, but one week after winning his second title, he quit to become head coach at the University of Maryland, and then the Denver Broncos. He returned to the Buffalo Bills (by then in the NFL) from 1972 through 1976, and was credited with coaching Bills running back O.J. Simpson to his full potential.
A legend in the sports world is gone, but never forgotten.