Chuck Fairbanks, the former New England Patriots head coach who made the team successful in the 1970s, died Tuesday in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 79.
Fairbanks died after a long battle with brain cancer.
"Coach Fairbanks gave the Patriots instant credibility
," Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in the Boston Herald. "It is a sad day for a generation of Patriots fans who enjoyed his era of coaching. My thoughts and prayers are with the Fairbanks family and all who mourn his loss."
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Kraft, a Massachusetts native who is also the Chairman and CEO of The Kraft Group, credited Fairbanks with introducing "the 3-4 defense to the NFL during his Patriots tenure, which remains a part of his NFL legacy."
The Patriots' current head coach, Bill Belichick, said Fairbanks created one of the "most talented teams in the league" last September.
"At the time he came here, he did a great job in turning the Patriots around, making them into one of the top teams in the AFC," Belichick said.
During his six seasons with the Patriots, Fairbanks' regular season record was 46-39, which led the team to two postseason appearances, both of which they lost, first to Oakland in 1976 and then to Houston in 1978.
Fairbanks ended his coaching career with New England in controversy. At the time, the team's owner, Billy Sullivan, suspended him from the last game of his sixth season for breaking his contract by becoming head coach at the University of Colorado in 1979.
Fairbanks was later reinstated as Patriots coach so he could lead the team during playoffs that year.
Fairbanks coached a dismal three seasons at the University of Colorado for the Colorado Buffaloes, with a record of 7 wins and 26 losses.
Prior to coaching for the Patriots, Fairbanks coached the Oklahoma Sooners for six years, leading the team to 11–1 records in his final two seasons.
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