Bill Austin, a former National Football League lineman who helped Vince Lombardi develop what became known as the Green Bay Packers’ power sweep offense, has died. He was 84.
Austin died this week at his home in Las Vegas, the New York Giants said in a statement without disclosing the cause of death.
An offensive lineman on the Giants’ 1956 National Football League championship team, Austin played seven seasons for the team, from 1949 to 1950 and 1953 to 1957. He was a Pro Bowl guard in 1954.
William Lee Austin was born Oct. 18, 1928, in San Pedro, California. He grew up in Oregon and played football at Oregon State University before being drafted in the 13th round by the Giants in 1949.
Austin became the Packers’ offensive line coach under Lombardi in 1959, keeping the job for six seasons.
The power sweep, in which the guards would pull around the offensive line and block for the running backs, was the signature play of Lombardi’s offense, helping the team to five NFL titles in the 1960s, including wins in the first two Super Bowls after the 1966 and 1967 seasons.
Austin left Green Bay prior to the Super Bowl wins, becoming coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1966 to 1968. He led the Steelers to an 11-28 record before being replaced by Chuck Noll.
Austin also joined Lombardi’s staff with the Washington Redskins in 1969 and was promoted to head coach when Lombardi was diagnosed with cancer in 1970. He led them to a 6-8 record in his lone season.
He also had assistant coaching stints with the Giants, from 1979 to 1982; the Los Angeles Rams; the Chicago Bears; the St. Louis Cardinals; and the New York Jets.
Austin was married to Goodrun Austin for 56 years and had four daughters, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.