Jack Elway, father and longtime coach, dead
Seattle Times staff reporter
Jack Elway, a Hoquiam native whose famous son was only one of his contributions to football, has died of an apparent heart attack.
Elway, 69, died at his home in Palm Springs, Calif., early Easter morning. His wife, Jan, found him.
After starring at Hoquiam High School, where he was coached by Jack Swarthout, Elway enrolled at Washington State in 1949. His college career lasted one year because of a knee injury.
He earned undergraduate and master's degrees at WSU and began his coaching career at Port Angeles High School, where he compiled a 39-12 record from 1953 to '61 and won five straight league titles. John Elway, who would go on to quarterback the Denver Broncos to two Super Bowl titles, was born in Port Angeles with his twin sister Jana in 1960.
Elway coached at Grays Harbor Junior College from 1961 to '66 then became an assistant to Swarthout at Montana. Elway was a member of Jim Sweeney's WSU staff from 1973 to '75.
Elway was head coach at Cal State-Northridge (1976-78), San Jose State (1979-83) and Stanford (1984-88). He coached the Frankfurt Galaxy in the World Football League (1991-92) and worked in the Broncos' scouting department (1992-99), the last five as director of pro scouting.
Elway touched thousands of lives as a coach.
"He gave me two or three lessons of life I've never forgotten," said Dee Hawkes, a rookie assistant at Port Angeles who now coaches at Bothell.
"I was taking a shower one day after we returned from a JV game at Forks and all of a sudden Jack reached in and turned the water to cold. He (criticized) me for saying `my play' and `my defense' and `my-my-my.' " He said, "It's `Ours! Ours! Ours!' "
WSU Coach Mike Price yesterday called Elway "a great mentor to me, a super father, a great coach and a great friend. I was a young coach under Sweeney and (Elway) helped bring me up.
"Whenever I needed a laugh, I just called Jack. He was one of the funniest human beings I have ever known. We would talk football all night. He was one of a kind. There never will be another Jack Elway."
Elway was noted for creative, entertaining offenses. But Oregon State Coach Dennis Erickson, who was Elway's offensive coordinator at San Jose State, learned more than offense under Elway.
"He also taught me a lot in general about handling players and motivation," Erickson said.
John Elway considered his father his best friend. Bronco owner Pat Bowlen said, "John's the one I'm most worried about. A lot of people don't understand how close he and Jack were, even the people around them."
A memorial service will be held in Palm Springs on April 24.
• Tennessee signed defensive tackle Josh Evans to a one-year contract, three days after finishing a yearlong suspension for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy.
• Receiver Jimmy Smith will miss Jacksonville's minicamp next week while he recovers from abdominal surgery. The Jaguars also agreed to a contract with backup center Jeff Smith.
• Al Davis acknowledged in court that the NFL owned the rights to Baltimore, St. Louis and Houston when teams left those cities, but insisted the Raiders retained the rights to Los Angeles. The Raiders had to buy the rights to Los Angeles, Davis said in his fifth and final day of testimony in the team's lawsuit against the NFL.
The Associated Press and Bloomberg contributed to this report.