Dick Stanfel

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Dick Stanfel
refer to caption
Stanfel on a 1955 Bowman football card
No. 63, 60
Position: Offensive guard
Personal information
Date of birth: (1927-07-20)July 20, 1927
Place of birth: San Francisco, California
Date of death: June 22, 2015(2015-06-22) (aged 87)
Place of death: Libertyville, Illinois
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight: 236 lb (107 kg)
Career information
High school: San Francisco (CA) Commerce
College: San Francisco
NFL draft: 1951 / Round: 2 / Pick: 19
Career history
As player:
As coach:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played: 73
Fumbles recovered: 3
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR
Coaching stats at PFR

Richard Anthony "Dick" Stanfel (July 20, 1927 – June 22, 2015) was an American football player and coach with a college and professional career spanning more than 50 years from 1948 to 1999. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a player in 2016.

A native of San Francisco, Stanfel served in the United States Army and later played college football on both offense and defense at the University of San Francisco from 1948 to 1950. He was selected as a first-team All-Coast defensive guard in 1950.

Stanfel was selected by the Detroit Lions with the 19th pick in the 1951 NFL Draft, missed the 1951 season due to injury, and then played seven seasons in the National Football League (NFL) as an offensive guard for the Detroit Lions (1952–1955) and Washington Redskins (1956–1958). He was a key player on the Lions' offense during their NFL championship runs in 1952 and 1953 and was named the Most Valuable Player on the 1953 Lions team. He was selected by the Associated Press as a first-team All-NFL player in five of his seven NFL seasons and played in five Pro Bowls in 1953 and 1955 to 1958.

Stanfel also spent 39 years as a football coach, principally as an offensive line coach. His coaching career included stints with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1959–1962), Philadelphia Eagles (1964–1970), San Francisco 49ers (1971–1975), New Orleans Saints (1976–1980), and Chicago Bears (1981–1992). Bears head coach Mike Ditka called Stanfel the best offensive line coach in football after the Bears led the NFL in rushing three straight years and won Super Bowl XX.

Early years[edit]

Stanfel was born in San Francisco in 1927 and attended High School of Commerce there.[1] He served for two years in the United States Army and was deployed in the Pacific Theater during World War II.[2]

After his military service, Stafel attended the University of San Francisco (USF) where he played college football from 1948 to 1950 on both offense and defense for the San Francisco Dons football team under head coach Joe Kuharich.[3] At USF, Stanfel was a blocker for Ollie Matson and a teammate of Gino Marchetti and Bob St. Clair. (All four went on to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.) At the end of the 1950 season, Stanfel was selected by the Associated Press as a first-team defensive guard on the All-Coast football team,[4] by the United Press as a first-team player on its independent conference all-star team,[5] and as a member of the west team in the East–West Shrine Game.[6] He was credited with opening numerous holes for Kyle Rote in the Shrine Game.[7]

Professional football[edit]

Detroit Lions[edit]

In January 1951, Stanfel was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the second round, 19th overall pick, of the 1951 NFL Draft. He was the first player drafted by head coach Buddy Parker after he became the Lions' head coach.[7] In August 1951, Stanfel was hit from the side in a scrimmage while practicing in Wisconsin for the Chicago College All-Star Game, seriously injuring his left knee.[3][8] As a result of the injury, Stanfel underwent knee surgery and did not play for the Lions during the 1951 season.[9] Stanfel later recalled: "For a solid year I worked with weights, took exercises and swam to strengthen the knee."[3]

After recuperating from his knee injury, Stanfel made his NFL debut for the 1952 Detroit Lions team that compiled a 9–3, ranked second in the NFL with an average of 28.7 points scored per game, and defeated the Cleveland Browns in the 1952 NFL Championship Game. After the Lions rushed for a season-high 321 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers in early November 1952, the Detroit Free Press published an article crediting Stanfel as a key to the running game. Assistant coach Aldo Forte said, "Stanfel's play at guard was the chief contribution to our great running game. He loves to play football and enjoys the game the rougher it gets."[10] George Wilson added: "We feel that Stanfel is one of the best, if not THE best offensive guard in pro football today. He's fast, rangy and can block extremely well. He not only holds the players out of there; he knocks them down and then goes hunting for more."[10]

In his second NFL season, Stanfel played for the 1953 Lions team that repeated as NFL champion, compiling a 10–2 record and again defeating the Browns in the 1953 NFL Championship Game. At the end of the 1953 regular season, the Lions players voted Stanfel as the team's most valuable player.[3] Assistant coach Forte called Stanfel the best guard in the NFL, and Stanfel said that the MVP honor was "the biggest thrill I've ever received in football."[3] He was also selected as a Pro Bowl player and was named a first-team All-NFL player by both the Associated Press (AP) and United Press (UP).[1]

In the spring of 1954, the Calgary Stampeders sought to lure Stanfel to the Canadian Football League with an offer to pay 20% more than his $7,000 salary with the Lions.[11] Stanfel instead signed a new contract with the Lions in May 1954 for an estimated salary of $8,500.[12] After a strong start to the 1954 season, Stanfel missed the last five games of the regular season with a back injury, losing the Bears and playing the Eagles to a tie in Stanfel's absence. Stanfel returned to the lineup days before the NFL Championship Game. At the time of Stanfel's return, Lions head coach Buddy Parker called him "the best blocking back in the NFL."[13] The 1954 Lions compiled a 9–2–1 record and won the NFL Western Conference championship before losing to the Browns in the 1954 NFL Championship Game. For the second consecutive season, Stanfel was selected as a first-team All-NFL player by both the AP and UP.[1]

The 1955 Lions fell to 3–9, as Stanfel was injured twice, the later time suffering a spinal injury that took him out of the lineup for three weeks.[1][14] Despite the injuries, Stanfel remained one of the top offensive linemen in the NFL and was chosen to play in his second Pro Bowl after the 1955 season.[1]

Washington Redskins[edit]

In April 1956, the Lions traded Stanfel to the Washington Redskins in exchange for Dick Alban.[15] He played for the Redskins for three seasons from 1956 to 1958. He earned three straight Pro Bowl honors from 1956 to 1958.[16] He was named to the National Football League 1950s All-Decade Team and in 2002, he was named one of the 70 Greatest Redskins.

Coaching career[edit]

After retiring as a player, Stanfel worked for the next 39 years as a football coach. In January 1959, he was hired for his first coaching position as an assistant line coach at Notre Dame under Joe Kuharich, who had been his head coach at USF.[17] He remained an assistant coach at Notre Dame for four years.[18]

In January 1963, Stanfel was hired as the offensive line coach for the California Golden Bears football team. He was an assistant at Cal under head coach Marv Levy.[18]

In March 1964, Stanfel renewed his professional relationship with Joe Kuharich, who was then the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Kuharich hired Stanfel as the Eagles' offensive line coach.[19] Kuharich left the Eagles after the 1968, but Kuharich remained with the Eagles through the 1970 season.[20]

In February 1971, Stanfel returned to his home city as an assistant coach with the San Francisco 49ers under head coach Dick Nolan.[21] He remained with the 49ers through the 1975, holding positions as offensive line coach and eventually taking over in 1975 as the offensive coordinator.[22]

In February 1976, Stanfel was hired as Hank Stram's offensive line coach with the New Orleans Saints.[22] Dick Nolan, under whom Stanfel served in San Francisco, took over as the Saints' head coach in 1978. When the 1980 Saints lost their first 12 games, Nolan was fired and Stanfel took over as interim head coach for the final four games of the 1980 season.[23]

In February 1981, Stanfel was hired by Neill Armstrong as the offensive line coach for the Chicago Bears.[24] He remained with the Bears when Mike Ditka took over as head coach in 1982.[25] He remained with the Bears throughout Ditka's tenure with the team which lasted through the 1992 season. Stanfel was credited with helping to establish a solid offensive line that helped the 1985 Chicago Bears win Super Bowl XX. After the 1985 season, Ditka noted that the Bears had led the NFL in rushing for three straight years, gave credit to Stanfel, and called him "the best offensive line coach in football."[26][27]

When Ditka was hired as the head coach of the New Orleans Saints in 1997, he hired Stanfel, then 70 years old, as his offensive line coach.[28] Stanfel said at the time that it was his respect for Ditka that lured him back to coaching: "I respect the man. He's a hell of a coach. I think he's an honest person and a fair man, and he asked me to come back. . . . He's always been good to me, and we've coached a long time together. In fact, I coached him when he was a player a couple years (with the Eagles), so I think there's a feeling for the both of us . . ."[29] Stanfel announced his retirement from the Saints in January 1999.[30]

Later years and legacy[edit]

Stanfel was nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993 and 2012, but failed to garner sufficient support.[31][32]

Stanfel died at age 87 in June 2015 at his home in Libertyville, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.[33]

In February 2016, Stanfel was posthumously elected to the Hall of Fame.


  • "Dick Stanfel" (PDF). Coffin Corner (Professional Football Researchers Association) 16 (2): 1–3. 1994. 


  1. ^ a b c d e "Dick Stanfel". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved February 7, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Remembering Dick Stanfel". detroitlions.com. Retrieved February 7, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Bob Latshaw (December 20, 1953). "Stanfel Voted Most Valuable: Lion Who Wouldn't Stay Crippled Hailed by Club". Detroit Free Press. 
  4. ^ "Coast Stars Named By Platoon System". Idaho State Journal. December 5, 1950. p. 6. 
  5. ^ Hal Wood (November 22, 1950). "UP Poll Chooses All-Star Elevens". Albany Democrat Herald. p. 12. 
  6. ^ "Stanfel, Torgeson on West Eleven". Santa Cruz Sentinel-News. December 8, 1950. p. 12. 
  7. ^ a b "Lions Draft Dick Stanfel, Coast Guard". Detroit Free Press. April 15, 1951. p. 2C. 
  8. ^ "Lions' All-Star Rookie Hurt". Detroit Free Press. August 10, 1951. p. 24. 
  9. ^ "Injury Costs Lions Services of Stanfel". Detroit Free Press. September 9, 1951. p. C3. 
  10. ^ a b Bob Latshaw (November 13, 1952). "What Makes Lions Run? Dick Stanfel, for One". Detroit Free Press. p. 27. 
  11. ^ Bob Latshaw (April 24, 1954). "Stanfel 'Shopping'". Detroit Free Press. p. 14. 
  12. ^ "Canadian Job Sidelined By Stanfel: 'Most Valuable' Lion Signs with Detroit". Detroit Free Press. May 23, 1954. p. D1. 
  13. ^ "Return of Stanfel Gives Lions Boost". The Brownsville Herald. December 24, 1954. p. 8. 
  14. ^ "Club's Latest Loss Is Stanfel". Detroit Free Press. October 11, 1955. p. 25. 
  15. ^ Bob Latshaw (April 24, 1956). "Stanfel Traded By Lions: Goes To 'Skins for Dick Alban". Detroit Free Press. p. 23. 
  16. ^ "Butler & Stanfel named 2012 senior nominees". Pro Football Hall of Fame. August 24, 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-24. 
  17. ^ "Stanfel Added To Grid Staff at Notre Dame". The Cincinnati Enquirer. January 15, 1959. p. 46. 
  18. ^ a b "Ex-Lion Stanfel To Coach at Cal". Detroit Free Press. January 24, 1963. p. 38. 
  19. ^ "Former Lion Stanfel on Eagles' Staff". Detroit Free Press. March 1, 1964. p. 41. 
  20. ^ "Eagles Retain Line Coach Dick Stanfel". The Express (Lock Haven, PA). May 15, 1969. p. 17. 
  21. ^ "Dick Stanfel New Forty-Niner Aide". The Times (San Mateo). February 9, 1971. p. 19. 
  22. ^ a b "Stanfel will coach Saints". The Times Standard (Eureka, CA). February 8, 1976. p. 14. 
  23. ^ "Saints have lost 12 straight: Stanfel relieves Nolan as New Orleans' coach". The Seguin (TX) Gazette-Enterprise. November 26, 1980. p. 13. 
  24. ^ "Bears Hire Marchibroda And Stanfel As Coaches". The Pharos Tribune (Logansport, Ind.). February 5, 1981. p. 15. 
  25. ^ "Marchibroda resigns as Bears' assistant". The Pantagraph. January 28, 1982. p. 15. 
  26. ^ "No love lost between Ditka, Ryan". The Galveston Daily News. February 7, 1986. p. 19. 
  27. ^ "Big Red". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. January 14, 1986. p. 11. 
  28. ^ "Old boys' club: New Orleans assistants equate age with experience". The Pantagraph. July 28, 1997. p. 14. 
  29. ^ "Saints relying on Iron will to lead the way". The Daily Herald (Chicago). August 31, 1997. p. 1A-6. 
  30. ^ "Roll Call". The Courier-Journal. January 22, 1999. p. 19. 
  31. ^ "Payton, Noll and Walsh to Hall". Detroit Free Press. January 31, 1993. p. 2E. 
  32. ^ Philip Zaroo (February 4, 2012). "Former Detroit Lions offensive lineman Dick Stanfel misses Hall of Fame bid". Mlive.com. 
  33. ^ "NFL great, former Bears coach Dick Stanfel passes". Daily Herald. June 24, 2015.