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Former Colts Head Coach Ron Meyer, 76, Passes Away

Posted Dec 5, 2017

Intro: Ron Meyer, who guided the Colts to their first playoff appearance in Indianapolis in the 1987 season, has died, team owner Jim Irsay said on Tuesday.

Ron Meyer stared out the window at the rear of his new office late Monday afternoon, watching a cold, steady December rain falling on the brown and green practice fields of the Indianapolis Colts.

The man who only hours earlier took command of the National Football League’s only winless team smiled momentarily, turned back toward his desk and said “I’m ready to grab a handful of dirt, find me some people who want to play this game and get to work.”


John Bansch, the late, great Indianapolis Colts beat reporter for The Indianapolis Star, penned these first two paragraphs in the Dec., 2, 1986, edition of the paper, which covered the news of the team’s hiring of Ron Meyer to be its newest head coach.

At 0-13, the Colts decided to make a move in-season, hiring Meyer to replace the likable Rod Dowhower.

By the very next season, Meyer had led the Colts to their first-ever playoff appearance in Indianapolis.

Meyer passed away on Tuesday, almost 31 years to the day of his hiring by the Colts, team owner Jim Irsay said:

Meyer had all sorts of Indiana ties — and experience — when he was hired by the Colts. A Purdue University alum, where he played quarterback and defensive back from 1961 to 1962, Meyer joined the Boilermakers’ staff as a grad assistant in 1963 before becoming the head coach at Mishawaka Penn High School near South Bend the following year.

Meyer went back to Purdue as an assistant coach from 1965 through 1970 before making his first jump into the NFL as a scout with the Dallas Cowboys for two seasons. In 1973, he was hired as the head coach at UNLV, where he compiled a 27-8 record in three seasons and was named the NCAA Division II Coach of the Year in 1974. Meyer moved on to become the head coach at Southern Methodist University — coaching the likes of running backs Eric Dickerson and Craig James — from 1976 through 1981, where he was a 34-31-1, before the NFL came calling again.

In 1982, Meyer was hired as the head coach of the New England Patriots, where he led the franchise to the playoffs in his first season and was named AFC Coach of the Year. But in 1984, despite having a 5-3 record at the time, Meyer was fired by the Patriots and replaced, ironically, by former Colts legend Raymond Berry.

After more than a year out of coaching, Meyer was reportedly on his way to Purdue to become its next head football coach when the Colts opportunity presented itself. He would go on to compile a 36-35 record in Indianapolis from 1986 through the first five games of the 1991 season. He would be named the United Press International (UPI) NFL Coach of the Year for his efforts with the Colts in 1987.

Meyer returned to football in 1994 for one season as the head coach of the Canadian Football League’s Las Vegas Posse, and ended his career as the head coach of the XFL’s Chicago Enforcers in 2001.

Here’s reaction from former players, coaches and media members about Meyer’s passing on Tuesday:

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