John Polonchek finished an epic journey on January 26, 2015 that began on January 1st, 1928. John, the eldest son of Gaspar and Mary Polomcak, was born in Granastov, Czechoslovakia and emigrated to the U.S. when he was six. John was an outstanding scholar and athlete, earning All-State honors as a halfback at Roosevelt High School in East Chicago, Indiana. John attended Michigan State University on an athletic scholarship. After graduation, he joined the U.S. Air Force and began his nearly 40-year coaching career as a player-coach at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C. John’s college-coaching career included stints at his alma mater, Michigan State, and the University of Colorado. John’s 25-year NFL-coaching career began in 1967, with the Oakland Raiders, where he coached running backs. The Raiders’ 1967 season was punctuated by a series of last-second field goals from the toe of George Blanda, culminating in Super Bowl II. In 1972, John moved to the Green Bay Packers for three seasons, coaching running backs. John joined the New England Patriots for fifteen seasons in 1975, save for a three-season stint with the New Jersey Generals of the fledgling United States Football League (USFL). Throughout his career, John had the honor of coaching with outstanding coaches and players in both the professional and collegiate ranks. John worked for Hall of Fame owner Al Davis, coached with Hall of Fame coaches John Madden and Bill Parcells and Hall of Fame players Raymond Berry, Fred Biletnikoff, George Blanda, Willie Brown, John Hannah, Mike Haynes, Ted Hendricks, Ron Mix, Jim Otto, Dave Robinson, Art Shell, Bart Starr, Andre Tippett, and Gene Upshaw. His teams competed in sixteen NFL playoff games, with seven wins, earning visits to Super Bowl II and Super Bowl XX.
John is survived by his wife of 59 years, Joan and their three children and their families: son, John Polonchek, of Stillwater, OK; daughter, Jennifer Ferreira, of Ridgefield, CT and daughter, Jeanna Polonchek, of Taunton, MA. Memorial contributions in John Polonchek’s memory can be made to the Trustees of Boston University with a note “In memory of John Polonchek” to support Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) Research through the CTE Neuropathology Fund.
The address is:
Boston University School of Medicine
Attention: Lauren Murphy
72 East Concord Street Suite B7800
Boston, MA 02118