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Former Steelers off. coordinator Erhardt dies

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Ron Erhardt, the offensive architect of the New York Giants' two Super Bowl titles under Bill Parcells, has died. He was 80.

The Giants announced that the one-time head coach of the New England Patriots and the long-time NFL offensive coordinator died in Boca Raton, Fla. on Wednesday morning.

"Ron was a wonderful man and a great coach," Giants chief executive John Mara said. "He was a big part of our success in the 1980s and was an important contributor to our first two Super Bowl championships."

Erhardt was hired by Ray Perkins as the Giants offensive coordinator in 1982, about a month after being released by the Patriots. When Perkins left later that season for the University of Alabama, Parcells was named the coach and kept Erhardt, who he had worked with in New England in 1980.

During Erhardt's eight seasons as offensive coordinator, the Giants reached the playoffs five times, won three NFC East titles and two Super Bowls. Phil Simms was the quarterback for the first one over Denver after the 1986 season, and Jeff Hostetler ran the team en route to the second title after Simms broke his left foot late in the 1990 season.

"I learned an awful lot from him. He went on and did some amazing things offensively," Hostetler said. "What amazes me, is that system is still out there, still being used, and works as successfully as ever. It is — without a doubt, out of all the systems I've been involved with and that's probably five, six, or seven different systems — the most simple as far as verbiage, and most consistent."

Current Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who was the team's receivers coach from 1988-90, said he recently sent Erhardt a note when he celebrated his Feb. 27 birthday.

"He was a great guy to work with. He was a lot of fun," Coughlin said. "He kept things pretty loose. He was good on the field. We had some good football players here, so we were pretty successful. But I think the working relationship is the thing I remember the most."

Under Erhardt, the Giants consistently had one of the NFL's most productive rushing attacks. Joe Morris rushed for more than 1,000 yards three times, including 1,516 in the Giants' first Super Bowl season. The Giants also finished in the Top 10 in the league in passing in 1984, '85 and '87.

Erhardt left the Giants after having his play-calling duties taken away by Ray Handley, who replaced Parcells after he left in 1991. Erhardt joined the Steelers as their offensive coordinator in 1992 and spent four years with them, helping them reach the Super Bowl following the 1995 season. He spent one season as the Jets offensive coordinator in 1996.

Erhardt entered the NFL as the Patriots backfield coach in 1973. He held that position for four seasons before being promoted to offensive coordinator. Erhardt was New England's head coach from 1979-81, compiling a record of 21-27.

A native of Mandan, N.D., Erhardt was 67-7-1 and won two college division national championships at North Dakota State University.

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