My friend and colleague Robert Rubino wrote a terrific 4-part blog for the Press Democrat about Bill Walsh’s years with the Bengals — it’s based on a video you can find on nfl.com.

After reading Robert’s blog I was motivated to look at my book on Walsh — I almost never do — for some of the things he said about Bengals owner and coach Paul Brown who never allowed Bill to be Bengals’ head coach. That eventually led to Bill leaving the Bengals and that led to you know what. So here are some quotes from Bill on the legendary Paul Brown.

“Paul could be downright dishonest or whatever it would take, He’d be a great guy if it was convenient. If it wasn’t, he’d be himself. I had a lot of ambition. I wanted to be a head coach before I died. And he was holding me back because it was a perfect setup for him. It was as unsettling as hell because he had control of my life.”

“The truth is I wasn’t his world. I was like a guy from another planet that dropped in. That was about the time of the Vietnam War, and my hair might have been a little longer than his. And I had these boots you zipped up that my wife got me for Christmas, and he saw them one day and he had a fit, he was so upset. So he was afraid that this kook would be his replacement.”

Brown named Bill Johnson Bengals’ head coach after he stepped down. This is Walsh on getting passed over for Johnson: “If you want to win a goddamn championship, you better have the brains. You can’t win it with a dull guy as head coach, and the smart guy as the assistant. That’s why we didn’t win an AFC championship when Paul was the head coach, because it had to go through Paul to be done. And now it had to go through Bill.”

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  1. Neal

    Classic quotes. I saw this NFL film yesterday and they had the top 10 influences in the NFL, and they had Walsh and the West Coast offensive as number 9 and Paul Brown was in the top 3 or 4, obviously I disagreed with that.

    March 6th, 2011 6:55 pm

  2. chris

    contrary to what Bob Trumpy says that the west coast offense started in the midwest in Cincinnati, the west coast offense actually did start on the west coast………when Walsh was a Raiders offensive coach in 1966……..I just posted a vid on youtube of the Raiders 1966 season, and at the end when the coaching staff is being introduced, there’s a 30 something Bill Walsh, smiling for the camera…….

    March 6th, 2011 7:40 pm

  3. dennypat

    Great stuff. Brings back a lot of memories. I always wondered what Paul Brown thought after Bill kicked his butt in those superbowls.

    March 6th, 2011 7:54 pm

  4. Lembach Is Staying!

    What the heck ever happened to the Warriors blog?

    March 6th, 2011 10:02 pm

  5. ready ranger

    HOW IRONIC! Now the 49ers are owned by Absentee Ownership from Ohio, that are dull, dull, dull.


    Finally it all worked out for Bill Walsh, he got all the notoriety he deservered right here in SF. Bill is much Loved, and Admired in the Bay Area.

    March 6th, 2011 10:51 pm

  6. Mike

    West Coast (read: Bill Walsh) offense No. 9 in the Ten Most Influential category? I assume you just switched the channel at that point since the list obviously lacked credibility? (I mean, why waste another 48 minutes of brain cells…)

    What was No. 10 — square-toed kicking shoes?

    March 7th, 2011 5:23 am

  7. John Cockreham

    One footnote Bill Johnson was Y,A Tilles center with the 49ers

    March 7th, 2011 8:03 am

  8. Harrison

    Very interesting anecdote – thanks for sharing that!

    March 7th, 2011 8:25 am

  9. Dave


    Such atrocious grammer on my part, please delete or deny my prior post, it should have read:

    Yet further proof that sometimes things just work out as they are intended. If not for Browns idiocy then perhaps the Forty Niners of legend never would have been.

    March 7th, 2011 10:31 am

  10. Stan

    I think you could make big money on a book on Singletary-but you could never do it because I know that you would have to question his intelligence to explain the why’s of what he thinks and you wont do that. I know that you make sure to say he’s a good man and with ethics and all that-arent we all?- so I could see a tell it like it is Singletary book needs a Christopher Hitchens to write it. But,what a book it would be. Maybe I should give it a shot. Any internet writing ever won a Pulitzer? or is it paper only?-wink.

    March 7th, 2011 10:31 am

  11. glenellen

    Rubino says it should be called the mid west offense instead of the west coast offense.
    I say it should be called the Bill Walsh Offense, period.

    March 7th, 2011 12:41 pm

  12. Neal

    I agree glenellen that and even Walsh always said why don’t they call it the Walsh offense.

    Stan, I don’t think there would be much demand on Singletary book how many times do we need to hear we need to look at the film , 88,000 time. The Rev got old fast.

    March 7th, 2011 2:33 pm

  13. Ron in St Pete

    Experts have such short memories. Bill Walsh himself created the NFL as we know it today. He was the key figure in an organization that created the paradigms for how game plans are created and implemented, for how front offices approach aging veterans, how a successful draft is approached and executed, how training camp is run.

    The 49ers are so bad lately that their significant history is diminished in many eyes and it is sad.

    It is the reason why a list such as the one referenced above barely has the West Coast Offense in its top ten. It is the reason why a scumbag like Michael Irvin is a first ballot Hall of Famer, but Art Monk was not, and Roger Craig or John Taylor may never be at all.

    Nobody remembers that the 49ers were the first team to 5 Super Bowls. Nobody remembers that the 49ers were the first team to win 18 games in a season, a record which still stands, though tied twice. Nobody remembers that if not for Bill Walsh’s retirement and subsequent decline in terms of drafting and roster maintenance, the Dallas Cowboys’ run of three Super Bowls in four years almost certainly would not have happened … and the Niners in all likelihood would be sitting on 6 or 7 championships now.

    March 7th, 2011 3:07 pm

  14. Upinc44

    From what I have read about Paul Brown he was petty, vindictive and a “my way or the highway” kind of guy. At the same time he is credited by most football historians for many innovations as a coach.

    I’m glad that Bill Walsh came home and had the early success at Stanford and got his much deserved shot with the 49ers.

    These were two giants in football history. I give credit where credit is due. I much preferred how Bill Walsh handled men.

    March 7th, 2011 5:24 pm

  15. Dan

    @glenellen: I agree: it should be called the Bill Walsh offense.

    March 7th, 2011 5:27 pm

  16. Johnc

    That is very interesting. Dam, I miss Bill Walsh.

    March 8th, 2011 2:31 am

  17. David

    @ Ron, I agree with most of what you said. But hther are some things I differ on. You can’t deny the teams that Pittsburgh, Oakland, Miami and Dallas put on the field in the 1970′s. And further, the Steelers have had as much to do withthe landscape of the NFL as any franchise in the NFL, Rooney rule ring a bell? And to state that the decline of the Niners was due to Walsh leaving also discredits the genius picks that Dallas made, and obtaining them with the trade of a running back to the Vikings. The Niners also mortgaged their future in the early salary cap era with huge backloading of contracts. It bought some glory up front, but severly hamstrung the organization for years.

    Walsh was truly genius. He is to offense what LeBeau and Capers are to defense (3-4 w zone blitz) I give the man his due.

    March 8th, 2011 9:30 am

  18. Harry

    If Harbaugh approaches 75% of Bill Walsh’s brilliance, the Bay Area is in for a treat.

    March 8th, 2011 3:53 pm

  19. Scotty

    How many championships did Paul Brown win before he hired Bill Walsh? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Walsh couldn’t hold Brown’s jock. Walsh should be proud of those two SB wins over that elderly coach.

    September 22nd, 2013 4:23 pm

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