|Date of birth||February 10, 1923|
|Place of birth||Brooklyn, New York|
|Head coaching record|
|Playing stats||Pro Football Reference|
|Team(s) as a player|
|Team(s) as a coach/administrator|
|New York Giants (RB)
Winnipeg Blue Bombers (CFL)
New York Giants (OC)
New York Giants (HC)
Sherman was the coach of the NFL's New York Giants from 1961 to 1969. His division titles with the Giants from 1961 to 1963 were the high points of his coaching career. Sherman collected two NFL Coach of the Year Awards in 1961 and 1962, the first time such an honor was awarded to the same person in consecutive years.
Sherman, who is Jewish, was the son of Russian Jews.12 At Boys' High School in Brooklyn, he was captain of his high school handball team but did not make the football team.3 A very bright student, he graduated high school at the age of 16.1
Sherman was the starting quarterback, beginning in 1940. He was not only quarterback but captain of the 1941–42 Brooklyn College football team, and a teammate of future longtime Boston Celtics play-by-play man Johnny Most.345
After graduating in 1943 at age twenty, he joined the NFL Philadelphia Eagles as both quarterback and defensive back.1 In his rookie season, he played with a combined Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers squad (due to manpower shortages caused by World War II). The team, called the Steagles, finished third in the NFL East with a record of 5–4–1.
Sherman spent five seasons with the Eagles, who finished second in the NFL East from 1944 to 1946. In 1946, he completed 17 of 33 passes for 264 yards (241 m), and led the league in yards per passing attempt (8.00). The following year, he helped lead the Eagles to the NFL East title with a record of 8–4–0. They tied the Pittsburgh Steelers for first, and then defeated Pittsburgh in a playoff to reach the NFL championship game, which they lost to the Chicago Cardinals (led by All-NFL defensive back Marshall Goldberg), 28–21. Sherman retired following the 1947 season after having played in 51 NFL games.
NFL player record
- Physical: 5 ft 8 in, 168 pounds
- Games: 51
- Passes completed: 66
- Passes attempted: 135
- Passing percentage: 48.9
- Passing yards: 823
- Passing touchdowns: 9
- Interceptions thrown: 10
- Rushes: 93
- Rushing yards: 44
- Rushing average: 0.5
- Rushing touchdowns: 4
- Fumbles: 10
- Interceptions: 2
- Punts: 1
- Punt yards: 27
Upon his retirement Sherman turned to coaching, first with the New York Giants as backfield coach from 1949 to 1953. That same year he became a head coach for the first time, with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (one of his players was Hall of Famer Bud Grant) of the Canadian Football League.3 In 1957, he returned to the Giants as a scout and then rejoined the coaching staff two years later as offensive coordinator, replacing Vince Lombardi when he was appointed head coach of the Green Bay Packers.3
Finally, in 1961, Sherman was given a head coaching job in the NFL, and he made the most of it. That year, he led the Giants to the NFL Eastern Division championship which landed them in the NFL championship game. Although they lost to the Green Bay Packers on the road, 37–0, Sherman was named NFL Coach of the Year because the Giants had improved from a 6–4–2 record in 1960 to 10–3–1 in 1961.
The following year, with players such as superstar quarterback Y.A. Tittle and star running back Frank Gifford, Sherman continued his winning ways and led the Giants back to the NFL championship game after repeating as NFL East champs with a 12–2 record. He became the first NFL Coach of the Year in back-to-back seasons, although his Giants again fell to the Green Bay Packers in the NFL championship Game, this time 16–7 at home on a frigid, windy afternoon.6 In 1963 the Giants won their third straight division title, but again lost in the championship game, this time to the defensive powerhouse Chicago Bears on the road, 14–10, the Giants' last appearance in an NFL championship game until Super Bowl XXI in 1986–87.
Sherman coached the Giants for another five seasons, but with the retirements of Tittle, Gifford and other stars, the team didn't have the same success. By 1966, the fans were getting restless and talk of firing Sherman became more common. The spectators at Yankee Stadium took to chanting "Goodbye Allie," waving banners to that effect and even putting the slogan to song.7 By 1968, despite an improved record of 7–7, the fans' dissatisfaction reached a peak and, after a poor preseason performance in 1969 (including a 34–17 loss to the AFL New York Jets), they got their wish and Sherman was dismissed, finishing 57–51–4 for his Giants coaching career.
Speaking of the rigors of football, Sherman said, "In this game, a player aches from July to December."8
NFL coaching record (1961–68 NY Giants): 57–51–4; 0–3 in the playoffs.
Sherman is a member of the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in Commack, Long Island, New York. In the mid-1960s, while still the Giants' head coach but after his first three division-champion seasons, he hosted a short-lived TV panel-discussion show called Pro Football Special in which he spoke with a Southern drawl (once declaring he was from "Brooklyn, Texas") and, in reviewing touchdown plays, would say that the runner, once in the clear, "goes in for the touch'." During the 1980s and early 1990s, he was a professional football analyst for ESPN. From 1994 to 1997, he was president of the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation.
- Last Team Standing. De Capo Press. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
- Day by day in Jewish sports history. 2008. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
- Giants among men: how Robustelli, Huff, Gifford and the Giants made New York a football town and changed the NFL. Random House. 2008. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
- High Above Courtside: The Lost Memoirs of Johnny Most. Sports Publishing. 2003. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
- Rise of a Dynasty: The '57 Celtics, the First Banner, and the Dawning of a New America. Penguin. 2010. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
- The Big Book of Jewish Sports Heroes: An Illustrated Compendium of Sports History and The 150 Greatest Jewish Sports Stars. SP Books. 2007. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
- "Pro Football: Roar of the Crowd". Time.com. December 23, 1966. Archived from the original on 1 February 2011. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
- Real football: conversations on America's game. 2004. Retrieved January 12, 2011.
- The Encyclopedia of Football, by Roger Treat (New York: A.S. Barnes and Co., 1976 – 14th Edition)
- Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League, edited by Bob Carroll, Michael Gershman, David Neft, and John Thorn (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1999)
- Encyclopedia of Jews in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)