Former Cardinals scout and coach Jim Stanley, who coached in the NFL, college, the Canadian Football League and won a USFL championship as head coach of the Michigan Panthers, died Thursday after a 17-month battle with cancer.
Stanley, who capped his career in football with a season as the Cards’ defensive line coach and then 12 years in the Cards’ front office before retiring in 2007, was 77.
Stanley was the head coach at Oklahoma State from 1973 to 1978 and was going to attend what turned out to be a Cowboys’ victory at the Fiesta Bowl earlier this month at University of Phoenix Stadium until his health took a turn. Instead, he was visited in the hospital by former OSU players whom he had coached.
“Football meant so much to Jim Stanley and he meant so much to all of us who had the pleasure of knowing him,” Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill said. “Even in the last year or so that I know had been difficult for him, he was still able to follow the sport closely and I know was very excited earlier this month when Oklahoma State was here for the Fiesta Bowl. All of us at the Cardinals and throughout the football community send our condolences to the entire Stanley family.”
A Kentucky native, Stanley was a three-year letterman at guard and defensive tackle at Texas A&M where he played for legendary head coach Bear Bryant. He was a member of Bryant’s “Junction Boys” at Texas A&M as well as the Aggies’ undefeated conference championship team in 1956.
Stanley then began coaching. He started as an assistant coach at SMU (1961) and Texas-El Paso (1962) before serving as the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State (1963-68), the U.S. Naval Academy (1969-70) and the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers (1971). Prior to being named the head coach for Oklahoma State, Stanley served as the Cowboys defensive coordinator/assistant head coach in 1972. His head coaching record at OSU was 35-31-2.
Stanley went on to pro football as the defensive line coach with the New York Giants (1979) and with the Atlanta Falcons (1980-82). He then coached USFL’s Panthers of the USFL in 1983-84 before working as the defensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1986) and then as a defensive line coach for the Houston Oilers for six seasons (1989-94).
He is survived by his wife of 56 years Sylvia and four children - daughters Rhonda and Starlyn, and sons Mark and Matthew – as well 10 grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Services are still being finalized but are expected to take place in Oklahoma next week.