INDIANAPOLIS – There are many reasons why the Indianapolis Colts enjoyed one of the finest decades in NFL history from 2000-09, when they earned a league-record 115 regular-season victories, seven division titles, two conference championships and Super Bowl XLI.
Always the most obvious reason, according to former Colts Offensive Coordinator Tom Moore, was personnel. Cal Murphy, one of the personnel contributors to the Colts for the past 12 years, passed away on Saturday at age 79.
Murphy was not one of the most visible individuals around the Colts. Observers at training camps would see him typically only for the first week of practice, and then only if they knew what he looked like.
To those with Colts, Murphy was a kind and engaging presence who helped recommend talents that usually found the playing field. It is what he did for the Colts. It is what he did in the Canadian Football League for many years, so well so that he led nine various teams to Grey Cup championships and earned himself a place in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
"Cal was the head coach when I was a scout for Saskatchewan (in 1998)," said Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson. "He showed me around my first Combine and was so gracious and helpful to such a green and wet-behind-the-ears scout such as myself at the time. He was a great football man and an even greater person, someone to aspire to on all levels in business and life. Cal will be sorely missed by all."
Murphy joined the CFL with the British Columbia Lions in 1974 as an assistant coach. He assumed the head coach title a year later. In 1977, he was an assistant with Montreal, where he won a league title under Head Coach Marv Levy. Murphy then embarked on a five-year career (1978-82) as the offensive line coach with Edmonton, and the Eskimos won a record five consecutive Grey Cup titles.
In 1983, Murphy became the head coach with Winnipeg, an association he held with the team for 14 seasons. Murphy was the head coach from 1983-86 and from 1993-96, winning more than 62 percent of his games. He was the club's general manager between those sideline spans, and Winnipeg won Grey Cup titles in 1984, 1988 and 1990.
Murphy ended his CFL career with Saskatchewan from 1997-99. He had a role with the Frankfurt Galaxy in NFL Europe in 2000, then later spent a short time with the Chicago Enforcers in the XFL. While serving during his 10 years with the Colts, Murphy was elected into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2004. He was inducted into the Winnipeg Blue Bomber Hall of Fame in 1992, and he is second to Bud Grant in victories with the club as head coach.
"Cal Murphy had an unrivaled passion for football," said Tom Telesco, Colts vice president of football operations. "Although he worked mainly behind the scenes with the Colts, Cal was an integral part of our scouting process the last 12 years. While with the Colts, Cal scouted and recommended Mike Vanderjagt, Nick Harper, John Chick, Justin Hickman, Jerrel Freeman, and many others from the CFL and Canadian college football.
"Cal is a CFL legend, but more than that, he is one of the finest people I have ever known. Anytime you say a nine-time Grey Cup champion and one-time Super Bowl champion is a better person than football coach/GM/scout, you know how special he really is. We honor Cal's accomplishments and thank him for his many years of outstanding work with the Colts. Cal's kindness, wit, work ethic, and passion will never be forgotten."
Vanderjagt was one of the players recommended by Murphy who thrived with Indianapolis. Vanderjagt is the club's all-time leading scorer with 995 points, and his .865 career percentage (230-266, including time with Dallas) ranks second in NFL history. Vanderjagt played from 1998-2005 with the Colts, hitting 217-of-248 career field goals and leading the team in scoring in each of those seasons.