Former team executive Bill Davis Sr. passes at 81

Family of Bill Davis Sr.

Bill Davis Sr., a former football coach and NFL team executive who spent more than a decade with the Dolphins, Browns, and Eagles, died Saturday in Florida. He was 81.

Davis, a two-way quarterback and defensive back at Mount Union, got into coaching five years after his college career ended. Within a few years, he became the head coach at Adrian College in Michigan. Five years later, it was off to Michigan State for three years as offensive backs coach, followed by a season as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Eagles.

In 1979, Davis made the transition to the executive role, with two years as the pro personnel director in Miami followed by five years (1981-86) with the Browns, where he was, as owner Art Modell put it at the time, a “24-hour supervisor of all aspects of player personnel.” During his tenure, the Browns qualified three times for the playoffs, with Davis acquiring players like quarterback Bernie Kosar and runnning backs Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack.

In 1986, Davis became the Eagles’ V.P. of player personnel, arriving the same year as coach Buddy Ryan and laying the foundation for a run of success with the acquisition of players like defensive tackle Jerome Brown, cornerback Eric Allen, linebacker Seth Joyner, defensive lineman Clyde Simmons, and receiver Cris Carter, who like Kosar in Cleveland arrived via the supplemental draft.

Bill Davis Jr. followed his father into the football business. Currently the linebackers coach in Arizona, Bill Davis Jr. has served as defensive coordinator with the Cardinals, 49ers, and Eagles.

We extend our condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Bill Davis Sr.

2 responses to “Former team executive Bill Davis Sr. passes at 81

  1. A rare man indeed: He succeeded despite Modell’s setting him up to fail. Those were wildly popular, wildly exciting teams; the last such to play in Cleveland. We won’t see his like again. Ave, atque, vale.

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