The Bengals lost one of their charter coaches over the weekend when Jack Donaldson, a Paul Brown disciple who worked on the club's first 10 coaching staffs, died in Cincinnati. He was 86.
Brown signed up "J.D." from Weeb Ewbank's powerful New York Jets as part of his six-man staff to coach the defensive line for his Baby Bengals of 1968. After that inaugural season, Brown moved Donaldson to the offensive backfield, where he coached the next nine seasons and developed six different leading rushers.
After Brown retired following the 1975 season, Donaldson stayed on for two years to coach under Tiger Johnson.
“Jack was an outstanding coach,” Bengals president Mike Brown said in a news release. “He aided the development of running backs that our longtime fans remember well -- Paul Robinson, Jess Phillips, Essex Johnson, Lenvil Elliott, Boobie Clark and Archie Griffin. He was greatly respected by my father, as well as by myself, and we are saddened by this news and send our condolences to Jack’s family.”
A native of Pataskala, Ohio, near Columbus, Donaldson earned undergraduate and Master’s degrees from Ohio State. He coached in Ohio high schools and at the University of Toledo before joining the Jets of Miami University's Ewbank.
"He was a good dude. Fun guy to be around and he knew his football," said Dave Lapham, the club's radio analyst who blocked four seasons for Donaldson's backs. "He's what you expected from a guy that Paul Brown hired. He was meticulous, attention to detail, and he was a good teacher. Paul thought a football coach was a football coach, so when he neeed a guy to coach the backs he said, 'J.D, I'm going to move you.' "
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. this Saturday, Nov. 23, at the Deupree House, 3939 Erie Ave., Cincinnati.