Bryan Frye once chronicled the NFL’s passing kings: that is, the career leaders in passing touchdowns throughout every year in NFL history. There are ten men who have been the career leader in touchdown passes, but only eight (soon to be nine) men who can say that they, at one point, had the most losses of any head coach in pro football history. Let’s begin in the natural place: the beginning.
Ted Nesser (1920-1921): 14 career losses
Nesser was the head coach of the Columbus Panhandles in the inaugural 1920 season of the APFA, the predecessor to the NFL. The Panhandles lost their first five games, and finished the season with the most losses in the league. The next year, Nesser’s Panhandles again led the league in losses (8), before the team moved on without him for the 1922 season. Nesser was a great player — he made the PFRA’s Hall of Very Good — but was 37 by the time he came to the Panhandles as player/coach.
Jim Thorpe (1922-1925): 25 career losses
Yes, that Jim Thorpe took over from Nesser as the career leader in losses. Thorpe also coached in 1920, and by the end of the ’22 season, he was at 15 career losses. He held the title of losing coach in pro football history for four more years — even though he was done coaching after ’23 — finishing his career with 25 losses.
Carl Storck (1926-1928): 26 career losses
Probably the last name on the list you won’t recognize, Storck coached the Dayton Triangles from 1922 to 1926. He had a winning record his first year, but went just 4-23-4 the rest of his career. In his last game as a head coach, in 1926, he finally passed Thorpe for most career losses. [click to continue…]