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Smith, who had 26-year NFL/AFL coaching career, dies at 80

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Jerry Smith, whose 26-year NFL coaching career included a stint as the Denver Broncos interim head coach in 1971, has died. He was 80.

Smith had been in declining health since suffering a heart attack four years ago. He died Saturday, said his son, Jeffrey Smith, of Dallas.

Smith coached the offensive and defensive lines for 10 AFL/NFL teams from 1960-85 before serving six seasons as a scout for the Kansas City Chiefs.

He was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 1952 out of the University of Wisconsin and played three seasons for the Niners and one for the Green Bay Packers.

Smith took over the Broncos after Lou Saban resigned in 1971 and went 2-3 before being replaced the following season by John Ralston.

"I think he really wanted the opportunity to take over the team the following year," his son said. "He went 2-3 and was pulling guys off the street and really did a great job.

"But what was always important to him was coaching and teaching. He affected so many people. So, he was fulfilled. He valued assistant coaching as much as he did head coaching."

Smith coached with the Boston Patriots, Buffalo Bills, New Orleans Saints, Houston Oilers, Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Colts, San Diego Chargers and St. Louis Cardinals in addition to his one year in Denver during his 26-year pro coaching career.

He was best known for coaching the "Sack Pack" in Baltimore in the mid-1970s and the Chargers' dominating defensive line for several seasons after that.

Smith is survived by his wife, Shirley, two sons and three daughters. Services were Monday in his hometown of San Diego.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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