Former New England Patriots head coach Chuck Fairbanks has died. He was 79.
According to a statement by the Patriots organization, Fairbanks died in Scottsdale, Arizona after a prolonged battle with brain cancer.
“As a Patriots season ticket holder, I remember the excitement that was generated by the hiring of Chuck Fairbanks from the University of Oklahoma in 1973,” said Robert Kraft, CEO of the New England Patriots. “Coach Fairbanks gave the Patriots instant credibility. For Patriots fans of that era, Fairbanks was the Bill Parcells before Bill Parcells. Meaning, he did for the Patriots in the ‘70s what Bill Parcells did for the team in the ‘90s. He delivered the franchise’s first 11-win season in 1976 and earned a home playoff game after winning the division in 1978. It was the first time in franchise history that we hosted a playoff game. He introduced the 3-4 defense to the NFL during his Patriots tenure, which remains a part of his NFL legacy. It is a sad day for a generation of Patriots fans who enjoyed his era of coaching. My thoughts and prayers are with the Fairbanks family and all who mourn his loss.”
Fairbanks played football in college at Michigan State, and went on to coach a Michigan high school football team after graduating. In 1958 he stepped up to an assistant coaching position at Arizona State University and went on to be a coaching assistant for the University of Houston and the University of Oklahoma.
In 1967 Fairbanks became the head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners. He led the team to three Big Eight Conference titles before leaving to become the head coach of the Patriots in 1973. Fairbanks had mixed success in the NFL, and returned to college football in 1979 as the head coach of the University of Colorado football team.