A few short weeks after the passing of Buddy Ryan, his predecessor as Head Coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, Marion Campbell, passed away on Sunday.
Campbell was a two way player for the Eagles during the teams last championship season, back in 1960. He played most of the season with torn ankle ligaments, needing painkilling injections before and during every game. He was named to the All Pro team following that season, and retired from playing after the 1961 season.
He spent the next seven seasons as a defensive line coach, with spells with the Boston (later New England) Patriots, Minnesota Vikings and Los Angeles Rams. He was named defensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons in 1969, a role he carried out for six seasons before becoming head coach in 1974. The Falcons never finished lower than 8th in passing yards allowed during his run as DC. His three seasons as a boss were far from glittering, as the team compiled a 17-51 win loss record before he was let go.
He returned to the Eagles as defensive coordinator in 1977, head coach Dick Vermeil’s second season in charge. A disciple of the 3-4 defense, Campbell’s unit allowed the 10th, 11th and 9th most yards in his first three seasons with the team, but in year four thinks began to click. The 1980 Eagles defense allowed the second fewest yards, the fewest points, the fewest rushing touchdowns and the third fewest passing scores, helping the team win the NFC and make it to the Super Bowl.
Following Vermeil’s surprise retirement, Campbell was named Eagles head coach prior to the 1983 season. His appointment marked the last occasion the Eagles appointed a head coach with previous NFL experience in that position. His second stint as a boss differed little from his Falcons tenure, as he went 17-29-1 before being fired with one game left in the 1985 season. Prior to the next campaign, the Eagles appointed Buddy Ryan as his successor.
He was named Falcons head coach for a second time in 1987, but after a record of 11-29 he was fired once again. This would be his last NFL coaching job.
His death marks the passing of another piece from that final Eagles championship side of 1960. His toughness as a player, and his mastery of his defensive units as the Birds DC, ensures that he will be fondly remembered by everyone associated with the Eagles.