FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former head coach Ron Meyer. He was 76 years old.
Meyer was named the eighth head coach of the Patriots on Jan. 15, 1982, and served as head coach for two-and-a-half seasons (1982-84). He came to New England after a successful six-year stint as head coach of Southern Methodist University.
Meyer took over a Patriots team that finished with a league worst 2-14 record and led the team to a 5-4 record and the team's first playoff appearance since 1978 in the strike-shortened 1982 season. He earned AFC Coach of the Year honors for his efforts. In two-and-a-half seasons, Meyer finished with an 18-15 regular season record (.545 winning pct.).
"I am sad to hear of Ron Meyer's passing," said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. "He was a colorful head coach who was very entertaining for fans during his tenure. One of the greatest things Ron did when he was hired in 1982 was to bring us a young coach from his staff at Southern Methodist University named Dante Scarnecchia. Thirty-five years later, that hire has proven to be a lasting legacy. On behalf of the entire Patriots organization, we send our thoughts and prayers to the Meyer family and the many friends who are mourning his loss."
One of his most memorable moments during his head coaching tenure with the Patriots came in the infamous "Snow Plow Game," on Dec. 12, 1982, when Meyer called a timeout during wintry conditions, for a stadium worker to clear a spot on the field for placekicker John Smith to attempt a go-ahead field goal in the fourth quarter. The kick was successful and the Patriots went on to beat the Dolphins, 3-0.
Meyer went on to coach the Indianapolis Colts from 1986-91, where he earned another AFC Coach of the Year honor in 1987, after helping turn around a 3-13 Colts team to finish 9-6 that year and win an AFC East division title.
A native of Westerville, Ohio, where he was born on Feb. 17, 1941, Meyer was class president of his high school and lettered in football, basketball and baseball. Meyer attended Purdue and walked on to the football team and eventually earned a scholarship. As a defensive back, he led the team in minutes played as a junior and senior. A standout both on the field and in the classroom, Meyer was selected to the All-Big 10 Academic Team and won the Nobel Kaiser Award for athletic and academic achievement in 1963.
Meyer spent six seasons (1965-70) as an assistant coach with his alma mater before leaving college for the NFL ranks as a personnel scout with the Dallas Cowboys. After two seasons with the Cowboys, he was named head coach at the University of Nevada – Las Vegas in 1973. Meyer took over a UNLV squad that had won once in 11 games in 1972 and led the Rebels to an 8-3 record the following year in his first season as a head coach. In 1974, UNLV went undefeated, 11-0, during the regular season and finished runner up in the NCAA Division II National Championship.