American Football Database
Don Heinrich
File:Don Heinrich - 1954 Bowman.jpg
1954 Bowman football card
No. 11     
Personal information
Date of birth: (1930-09-19)September 19, 1930
Place of birth: Chicago, Illinois
Date of death: February 29, 1992(1992-02-29) (aged 61)
Place of death: Saratoga, California
Career information
College: Washington
NFL Draft: 1952 / Round: 3 / Pick: 35
No regular season or postseason appearances
Career history
 As player:
* New York Giants ( 1954 1959)
 As coach:
* New York Giants (1961)
Career highlights and awards
* 2× NCAA passing leader (1950, 1952)
Games played     56
TDINT     17–23
Passing yards     2,287
Passer rating     49.6
Stats at
Stats at
College Football Hall of Fame

Donald Alan Heinrich (September 19, 1930 – February 29, 1992) was an American football player, coach, and announcer. He played professionally as a quarterback in National Football League (NFL) for the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys, and in the American Football League (AFL) for the Oakland Raiders. Heinrich played college football at the University of Washington.[1][2][3]

Early years

Born in Chicago, Heinrich was raised in western Washington and graduated from Bremerton High School, west of Seattle, in 1948. In his senior season, he led the Wildcats to the mythical state title.[4]

Playing career


He played quarterback at Washington in Seattle, leading the nation in passing in 1950 and 1952,[5][6] and setting many of the school's passing records. His 60.9 completion percentage in 1950 set an NCAA record. Heinrich missed the 1951 season due to a pre-season shoulder separation,[7] and was selected in the third round of the 1952 NFL draft, but stayed in college and played his fifth-year senior season with the Huskies in 1952.

He was inducted into the U.S. Army that November,[8] prior to the Apple Cup in Spokane against Washington State, but was granted a pass to play.[9][10] The Cougars had won the previous year in Husky Stadium while Heinrich was sidelined, but he led the Huskies to a 33–27 victory in 1952 and finished 3–0 in his career against WSC.

Heinrich played just one season (1950) with hall of fame running back Hugh McElhenny. They were expected to play together for three seasons, but McElhenny missed the 1949 season and Heinrich sat out 1951.

He served in the military for just under two years, and also got a chance to play football for Fort Ord. He missed the 1953 NFL season and reported to the Giants in 1954.[11] While in the army, he played for the Fort Ord Warriors,[11] which included running back Ollie Matson.


Heinrich was selected by the New York Giants in the third round (35th overall) of the 1952 NFL Draft with a future draft pick, which allowed the team to draft him before his college eligibility was over.

As a professional, he played with the New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, and Oakland Raiders. In his six seasons with the Giants, he saw action in three NFL championship games (1956, 1958, 1959), while being the starting quarterback of the 1956 title team. With Vince Lombardi as the Giants' offensive coordinator (1954–58), Heinrich split time at quarterback with Charlie Conerly, with him being used to probe defenses and Conerly coming into the games to capitalize on weaknesses.[12]

Heinrich was selected by the Cowboys in the 1960 expansion draft. The Dallas head coach was Tom Landry, the defensive coordinator with the Giants through the 1959 season. Heinrich again shared time at quarterback, with veteran Eddie LeBaron and rookie Don Meredith.[1] In 1961, Heinrich was a backfield coach with the Giants. He returned as a player in 1962 after the American Football League Raiders bought his rights from the National Football League Cowboys,[13][14] but saw limited action for the last place Raiders (1–13).

Coaching career

Heinrich held assistant coaching positions in the NFL with the Giants, Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans Saints, and San Francisco 49ers.[1]

Broadcasting career

In 1976, Heinrich began his broadcasting career, working first on Washington Huskies games and also as the first radio game analyst for the Seattle Seahawks Radio Network (working with Pete Gross and Wayne Cody) and then becoming an analyst for the 49ers' games. In 1983 and 1984, Heinrich was a color analyst for ESPN and ABC broadcasts of the United States Football League (USFL).

Heinrich worked with Preview Sports Publications, with whom he published the magazines Don Heinrich's College Football and the Don Heinrich's Pro Preview, until his death. In 1991, he was the analyst for Pac-10 games on Prime Ticket, a cable channel based in Los Angeles.

Honors and death

In 1987, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. In 1974, he was inducted into the State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame.

He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in June 1991,[15] and died at age 62 at his home in Saratoga, California.[1]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Rockne, Dick (March 2, 1992). "UW great Heinrich dies of cancer -- Qb synonymous with Husky football". Retrieved February 14, 2016.
  2. "Don Heinrich is dead; football star was 62". New York Times. (obituary). March 2, 1992. Retrieved February 14, 2016.
  3. Florence, Mal (March 4, 1992). "Heinrich stayed close to his ties in football". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 14, 2016.
  4. Barron, Chris (December 31, 1999). "West Sound Athletes of the Century: Football / male - Don Heinrich". Kitsap Sun (Bremerton, Washington). Retrieved February 14, 2016.
  5. "Washington's Don Heinrich is nation's top passing champ". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Associated Press (Florida): p. 14. December 11, 1952.
  6. "NCAA Football Annual Leaders". Hickok Sports. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
  7. "Don Heinrich injured". St. Petersburg Times. Associated Press (Florida): p. 54. September 9, 1951.
  8. "Heinrich called for induction in Army on Nov. 24". Ellensburg Daily Record. Associated Press (Washington): p. 1. November 13, 1952.
  9. "Heinrich plans blazing finale". Lewiston Daily Sun. Associated Press (Maine): p. 8. November 29, 1952.
  10. "29,000 due to pack Memorial Stadium". Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington): p. 9. November 29, 1952.
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Don Heinrich to play with Giants in 1954". Lodi News-Sentinel. United Press (California): p. 6. January 5, 1954.
  12. "Another sacred sports cow has been slain". Wilmington Morning Star. UPI (North Carolina): p. 20. November 10, 1971.
  13. "Cowboys sell Heinrich to weakened Oakland". Victoria Advocate. Associated Press (Texas): p. 7. July 10, 1962.
  14. "Oakland gets Don Heinrich". Gadsden Times. UPI (Alabama): p. 10. July 12, 1962.
  15. "Don Heinrich has cancer". Ellensburg Daily Record. Associated Press (Washington): p. 12. December 19, 1991.

External links