American Football Database

John McVay (born January 5, 1931) is a former American football coach who rose through the coaching ranks from high school, through the college level, and to the NFL. Born in Bellaire, Ohio, he played college football at Miami University, starring as an offensive lineman.


McVay coached at several Ohio high schools, Michigan State University as an assistant coach and then head coach at the University of Dayton. Born January 5, 1931. Attended college at Miami University. Later became married with three boys. John McVay, Jim McVay, and Tim McVay.

NFL career


He became the pro football head coach of the World Football League Memphis Southmen in 1974, the WFL's first season. His record at Memphis was 24-7. The league folded in 1975.[1] In 1976 he went to the NFL New York Giants as an assistant coach and replaced fellow Miami alumnus Bill Arnsparger as the head coach when Arnsparger was fired at mid-season. From 1976 to 1978, McVay struggled with a franchise in transition. His first NFL season included a roster with three rookie quarterbacks. His contract with the Giants was not renewed after the 1978 NFL season, most likely as the result of a famous loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on November 19, 1978.[2] (His headphones were not working during that part of the game; he later said that if he had heard of his offensive coordinator's call for a handoff, he would have overruled it.)

Front office

McVay moved on to an administrative position with the San Francisco 49ers in 1980. He collaborated with head coach Bill Walsh in one of the most successful dynasties in NFL history. As vice president/director of football operations, he presided over five Super Bowl-winning seasons. He was named NFL Executive of the Year in 1989.[3] He retired from the 49ers in 1996.


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Preceded by
Dwight Clark
San Francisco 49ers General Manager
Succeeded by
Bill Walsh