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Wilbur "Weeb" Ewbank (May 6, 1907 – November 17, 1998) was an Americanmarker professional football coach.

Early years

Ewbank was born in Richmond, Indianamarker, and lived there through high school. He then attended Miami Universitymarker in Oxford, Ohiomarker, where he played quarterback under head coach Chester Pittser and was a member of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity.

Ewbank's first football coaching job was in 1928 at Van Wert High School in Van Wert, Ohiomarker. He soon moved back to Oxford, Ohio, and took a position to coach all sports at McGuffey High School. McGuffey was a school run by Miami Universitymarker, separate from Oxford's public high school. In 1939, Ewbank agreed to coach both the McGuffey High School and the Miami Universitymarker basketball team when Miami’s basketball coach left for another job.

During World War II Ewbank joined the Navy and was assigned to Naval Station Great Lakesmarker where he was reunited with his Miami teammate Paul Brown who was the base football coach. At Great Lakes, he assisted Brown with the football team and coach the basketball team

From 1947 through 1948 Ewbank was head coach of Washington Universitymarker in St. Louis, Missourimarker, where he compiled a 14–4 record. Ewbank started the 1947 team from scratch since the Bears did not have a football team from 1943 though 1946 due to World War II. His first team started off with 2 losses but rebounded with 5 straight wins before losing the final game to the University of Louisvillemarker. The 1948 squad won a school-record nine games while allowing just 77 points while posting a record of 9-1.
School Year Overall (Conf./place) Bowl game
Washington Universitymarker 1947 5-3 None
Washington Universitymarker 1948 9-1 None


Baltimore Colts

Ewbank came to the Colts at the recommendation of Cleveland Browns coach Paul Brown. Colts owner Carroll Rosenbloom had called Brown asking for a coaching tip. He was interested in Browns assistant Blanton Collier. Brown suggested Ewbank instead and Rosenbloom took the offer.

As coach of the Baltimore Colts, Ewbank won the 1958 and 1959 NFL championships. The 1958 game is often referred to as "The Greatest Game Ever Played". By the end of the 1962 NFL season, Colts owner Carroll Rosenbloom thought that the Colts had slipped enough and Ewbank was fired. Rosenbloom hired in his place the then-youngest head coach in NFL history, Don Shula.

New York Jets

When Sonny Werblin bought the New York Titans franchise of the American Football League in 1963, he changed both the team's name (to the New York Jets) and its coach. Ewbank took over a team that had not had a winning record in its first three years, and made them into a force to be reckoned with.

Werblin signed Matt Snell away from the NFL in 1964, and in 1965, the Jets' signing of Joe Namath added to the arsenal which would eventually pit Ewbank against his former team in the third AFL-NFL World Championship game (Super Bowl III).

Ewbank's Jets won the American Football League Championship in 1968 with a victory over the Oakland Raiders. In the third World Championship Game, the Colts (proclaimed by some to be "the greatest pro football team of all time") were heavily favored over the AFL's "overmatched" Jets. But with Ewbank's confident planning the Jets ran a game plan that mystified the Colts and came out with a 16-7 victory.

After the 1972 season, Ewbank announced that at the end of the 1973 season he would retire as head coach in favor of his son-in-law, Charley Winner, though he would continue as general manager. The 1973 Jets season is the subject of the book The Last Season of Weeb Ewbank by Paul Zimmerman.

Hall of Fame

Ewbank is the only man ever to coach two different American pro pootball teams to victory in a championship game, and the only man to coach winners of NFL, AFL, and World Championships: (NFL championships in 1958 and 1959 with the Colts, an AFL championship in 1968 with the Jets, and a World Championship in Super Bowl III in 1969 with the Jets]. Weeb's record in the AFL was 50-42-6 (71-77-6 all-time with the Jets) and his career regular season record in the NFL and AFL was 130-129-7 and his playoff record was 4-1. Ewbank was selected as the Head Coach of the AFL All-Time Team.

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Famemarker in 1978.

He is a member of the Indiana Football Hall of Fame and the Miami University Athletic Hall of Fame.

Notes

  1. Kurz, Bob (1983) "Miami of Ohio, the Cradle of Coaches" p. 37 Library of Congress Catalog Card number 83-50645
  2. Washington University Football 2006 media guide p. 86


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