Jim Trimble, who was head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles for four years but spent the bulk of his professional football career with the Giants, died on Tuesday at his home in Indianapolis. He was 87.
The cause was emphysema, a Giants spokesman said.
Trimble was with the Giants for more than a quarter-century, starting in 1967 as an assistant coach under Allie Sherman. He was later a pro personnel director, personnel consultant and a scout. The Giants were often dreadful in that era but became successful toward the end of Trimble's time with the team, winning Super Bowls in 1987 and 1991.
Trimble was also a head coach for 10 years in the Canadian Football League.
In 1966, with an engineering friend, Cedric Marsh, he redesigned the goal posts used in the National Football League, earning a patent for it. Until then, the goal post, resembling an H, had double support posts planted on the goal line. To cut down on injuries, Trimble and Marsh created a Y-shaped post set at a safer distance -- six feet behind the goal line. In later years it was moved even farther, to the back of the end zone.
James William Trimble was born May 29, 1918, in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, and was raised there. At Indiana University, he was a 6-foot-2-inch, 248-pound two-way tackle under coach Bo McMillin. After earning a degree in education in 1942, he enlisted in the Navy, became a lieutenant junior grade and served in the South Pacific during World War II.
In 1946 and 1947, at Wichita University (now Wichita State University), Trimble was the line coach, then the head coach and, at age 29, the athletic director. He took the football team to bowl games each year.
In 1951, when McMillin became the Eagles' coach, he hired Trimble to coach the offensive line.
"After the first week, Bo asked me to proofread the playbook," Trimble told the New York Times in 1982. "When I told him I'd like to talk to the defensive coach about it, he said: `Jim, I forgot to tell you. You're also the defensive coach."'
The night before the 1951 season opener, McMillin was told he had cancer, and Wayne Millner, another assistant, took over. The next season, when Millner took ill, Trimble became the head coach at 34.
He was the head coach from 1952 through 1955. Adrian Burk, Chuck Bednarik and Bucko Kilroy were among his players. Trimble's first three teams had winning records, but when his 1955 team went 4-7-1, he was fired despite a four-year record of 27-20-2.
Then came pro football in Canada: seven years with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and three with the Montreal Alouettes.
His 10-year record was 87-71-2. His Hamilton teams reached the Grey Cup championship game five times and won it in 1957.
He is survived by his wife, Elfreda; six children from a previous marriage, Michael of Grandview, Wash.; James of Westfield, New Jersey; Thomas of Madison, New Jersey; Patricia Vester of Milford, Delaware; Susan Van Nostrand of Easton, Pennsylvania; and Mary Ticci of East Greenwich, Rhode Island; and 13 grandchildren.