Sidney Gillman was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on October 26, 1911. He played end at The Ohio State in 1933 and for the Cleveland Rams in 1936. He took assistant coaching positions at Denison University, The Ohio State University, and Miami University from 1937 to 1943; becoming head coach at Miami in 1944, which culminated in an undefeated final season and a Sun Bowl championship. Following a short assistantship under Earl Blaik at West Point, Gillman accepted the head coaching position with the University of Cincinnati. After ten years in college football, Gillman’s overall statistics were a phenomenal 81-19-2.
Gillman made the move to professional football by becoming head coach (and later general manager) for the Los Angeles Rams (1955-59). In 1960, the team name was changed to the Los Angeles Chargers, and in 1961 they moved to San Diego (1961-71). From 1973-74, Gillman coached the Houston Oilers.Throughout his professional football coaching career, Gillman lead the Rams to one NFL championship and the Chargers to five AFL title games.
Following his many years as head coach, Gillman consulted for the Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints, Washington Redskins, and the Los Angeles Express (USFL). He retired in the late 1980s.
Gillman is credited with transforming the passing game by employing deep downfield passes, referred to as the West Coast offense. Additionally, he was the first to use film to review play strategies and execution, to place players’ names on the backs of their jerseys, and is credited with conceptualizing the Super Bowl four years ahead of the first AFL-NFL championship game.
Gillman was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983 and into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1989.
He died peacefully at home on January 3, 2003 in Carlsbad, California at the age of 91. At the time of his passing, Sid was survived by his wife of 67 years, four children, eight grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.