Jim Hanifan, the former head coach of the St. Louis Cardinals (now Arizona Cardinals) who returned to the city as an offensive line coach for the St. Louis Rams, died on Tuesday. He was 87 years old. Hanifan's daughter, Kathy Hinder, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he died at Missouri Baptist Hospital. The cause of death has not been announced.
"Jim Hanifan was a great football coach, but an even better man and mentor to many men and women around the game of football," Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill said in a statement. "On the field, he was known as one of the greatest teachers of offensive line play the game has ever seen. He'll also be remembered as one of its all-time best storytellers."
Hanifan became the St. Louis Cardinals head coach in 1980 and was there for six seasons. He compiled a 39-49 record, and his best season was in 1982 when he led the team to a 5-4 record and a playoff appearance. The Cardinals lost to the Green Bay Packers in the first round of the playoffs. In 1987, Hanifan became the offensive line coach assistant head coach for the Atlanta Falcons and was there for three seasons. He was also the team's interim head coach in 1989 when Marion Campbell was fired.
In 1990, Hanifan became the head offensive line coach for the Washington Redskins (now Washington Football Team) and helped the team win a Super Bowl in 1991. He was with Washington for seven seasons before returning to St. Louis in 1997 to join the Rams coaching staff. Hanifan was the team's offensive line coach for six seasons and helped the team win a Super Bowl in 1999.
"Jim Hanifan was larger than life," former Cardinals fullback and current radio analyst Ron Wolfley said, who played for Hanifan. "He was Paul Bunyan without the ox. Tall, tough, profane and determined, with a raspy voice and love for players that I will not soon forget. He once told me he 'loved the F'in F out of me.' I never responded, so I'll do that now — love you, too, Hanny." Hanifan was the offensive line coach for the Cardinals and the San Diego Chargers (now Los Angeles Chargers) before becoming the Cardinals head coach. He also spent time in the college ranks as an assistant coach for Utah, California and San Diego State.