Veteran college and NFL coach Jim Fassel, who led the New York Giants to a Super Bowl berth, died Monday at the age of 71.
The Los Angeles Times’ Sam Farmer reported the news of Fassel’s death, which was due to a heart attack.
Fassel had been living in Las Vegas, which was also the site of his final coaching stint. He served as the head coach and general manager of the Las Vegas Locomotives in the United Football League from 2009 to 2012. In his first two seasons, Fassel led the Locomotives to back-to-back UFL championships.
Fassel finished his time in the NFL as an offensive consultant for the Baltimore Ravens in 2004 and as the team’s offensive coordinator for the next two seasons after that.
But Fassel’s legacy as a coach stretches all the way back to the 1970s. He initially entered the NFL as a quarterback, selected in the seventh round of the 1972 draft. However, it became clear after bouncing around to three different teams as a rookie that his future was in coaching.
In 1976, Fassel got his first big coaching break at the University of Utah, where he served as the quarterbacks and receivers coach. From there he moved to Weber State, then to Stanford, and had a one-year stint in the USFL before becoming the Utes’ head coach from 1985 to 1989.
The 1990s saw Fassel take prominent assistant jobs with four different NFL teams, beginning with the Giants in 1991. It wouldn’t be long before New York brought Fassel back, hiring him as head coach in 1997.
During Fassel’s maiden season with the G-Men, he led them to a 10-5-1 record, earning Coach of the Year honors.
Although the team didn’t perform as well in the next two years, New York went 12-4 in 2000 and made it to Super Bowl XXXV. Only the Baltimore Ravens’ historic defense stood between that Fassel-led Giants team and a Lombardi Trophy.