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Eagles Hire Joe Kuharich as Head Coach

Feb. 27, 1964 - Joe Kuharich, who turned his back on a long-term contract with the Washington Redskins in 1959 to answer a call from his alma mater, Notre Dame, returned to the ranks of pro football today as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Kuharich’s signing of a four-year contract — at an unrevealed salary — was announced by Jerry Wolman, the Eagles’ multi-millionaire new owner, at a press conference at the Warwick Hotel. Wolman said the duties of the 46-year-old Kuharich, the NFL’s supervisor of officials since he left Notre Dame after the 1962 season, would be confined to coaching and that Vince McNally would continue as the Eagles’ general manager.

Kuharich, asked whether he resented the fact that he was “an obvious third choice” for the job, said: “I’ve been well aware of the entire picture for at least six weeks, and it does not concern me.” Wolman first sought Norm Van Brocklin, the quarterback who led the Eagles to the NFL title in 1960 and who since has been coach of the Minnesota Vikings. Wolman admitted that he was even prepared to make Van Brocklin general manager as well as coach. He wanted Van Brocklin because he thought he would have the greatest appeal to the Philadelphia fans. Wolman’s second choice was Paul Brown, former coach of the Cleveland Browns.

In his five years as head coach of the Redskins and one with the Chicago Cardinals, Kuharich seemed to stress the running attack over the aerial game. What does he plan for the Eagles? “You have to suit your offense to the personnel,” Joe said, “but I think we have the nucleus — with Timmy Brown and others — for a wide-open attack. Pro football is a game of scoring, there’s no doubt about that. But you have to have all the parts of the puzzle, even field goal kicking. If you don’t, they’ll bury you.”

What about play-calling from the bench? “We’ll try to school the quarterbacks to think as we do,” said Kuharich. “If we can get that across, they should be able to make most of the calls.”

Kuharich is regarded as a fair-minded, considerate man, who was widely respected by his players. But he has a tough side when the occasion dictates.


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