No matter the head coaching job, Ron Meyer was a winner. No matter if it was college football's UNLV Rebels or the Southern Methodist Mustangs, the NFL's New England Patriots or Indianapolis Colts, most of the times Meyer's teams left the field as winners. On Tuesday, the long-time coach passed away.
Meyer was born February 17, 1941 and after stints at Purdue and as a scout for the Dallas Cowboys became UNLV's head coach in 1973. The Ohio native coached in Las Vegas for three seasons and is still the program's most successful coach in terms of winning percentage. His success caught the attention of Southern Methodist University, which hired him in 1976 and won a conference title in 1981.
In 1982, after six seasons at SMU, the Patriots hired Meyer as the franchise's seventh head coach. In his strike-shortened first season, he not only helped the team achieve a 5-4 record and a spot in the playoffs coming off a 2-14 campaign, he also earned himself spot in New England sports lore: Meyer played a key role in what is now known as the “Snowplow Game”.
During the Patriots' home game against the Miami Dolphins, it was Meyer who directed snowplow driver Mark Henderson – famously a convicted burglar on work release – to clear a spot for kicker John Smith on a fourth quarter field goal attempt. Despite Miami head coach Don Shula's protests, Smith was allowed to kick what ultimately turned out to be the game winner in the 3-0 game.
New England finished the 1983 season 8-8 before starting 1984 with a 5-3 record. However, Meyer was fired after the Patriots' eight game for dismissing defensive coordinator Rod Rust after the team's 44-24 home loss to the Dolphins. Meyer did not have the authority to relieve Rust of his duties and as a result saw himself replaced by Raymond Berry.
After more than a year out of coaching, Meyer joined the Colts in 1986. He spent six seasons in Indianapolis before getting fired during the 1991 season. After his dismissal, he worked as a broadcaster and also coached in the CFL and short-lived XFL. On Tuesday, Meyer passed away at the age of 76.