Donald Alan Heinrich (September 19, 1930 – February 29, 1992) was an American football player, coach, and announcer. He played professionally as a quarterback in National Football League (NFL) for the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys, and in the American Football League (AFL) for the Oakland Raiders. Heinrich played college football at the University of Washington.
Born in Chicago, Heinrich was raised in western Washington and graduated from Bremerton High School, west of Seattle, in 1948. In his senior season, he led the Wildcats to the mythical state title.
He played quarterback at Washington in Seattle, leading the nation in passing in 1950 and 1952, and setting many of the school's passing records. Heinrich missed the 1951 season due to a pre-season shoulder injury, and was selected in the third round of the 1952 NFL draft, but stayed in college and played his fifth-year senior season with the Huskies in 1952.
He was inducted into the U.S. Army that November, prior to the Apple Cup in Spokane against Washington State, but was granted a pass to play. The Cougars had won the previous year in Husky Stadium while Heinrich was sidelined, but he led the Huskies to a 33–27 victory in 1952 and finished 3–0 in his career against WSC.
Heinrich played just one season (1950) with hall of fame running back Hugh McElhenny. They were expected to play together for three seasons, but McElhenny missed the 1949 season and Heinrich sat out 1951.
Heinrich served in the military for just under two years, so he missed the 1953 NFL season and reported to the Giants in 1954. While in the army, he played for the Fort Ord Warriors, which included running back Ollie Matson.
As a professional, he played with the New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, and Oakland Raiders. In his six seasons with the Giants, he saw action in three NFL championship games (1956, 1958, 1959). With Vince Lombardi as the Giants' offensive coordinator (1954–58), Heinrich split time at quarterback with Charlie Conerly.
Heinrich was selected by the Cowboys in the 1960 expansion draft. The Dallas head coach was Tom Landry, the defensive coordinator with the Giants through the 1959 season. Heinrich again shared time at quarterback, with veteran Eddie LeBaron and rookie Don Meredith. In 1961, Heinrich was a backfield coach with the Giants, and returned as a player in 1962 with Oakland in the American Football League, but saw limited action for the last place Raiders (1–13).
Heinrich held assistant coaching positions in the NFL with the Giants, Los Angeles Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans Saints, and San Francisco 49ers.
In 1976, Heinrich began his broadcasting career, working first on Washington Huskies games and also as the first radio game analyst for the Seattle Seahawks Radio Network (working with Pete Gross and Wayne Cody) and then becoming an analyst for the 49ers' games. In 1983 and 1984, Heinrich was a color analyst for ESPN and ABC broadcasts of the United States Football League (USFL).
Heinrich worked with Preview Sports Publications, with whom he published the magazines Don Heinrich's College Football and the Don Heinrich's Pro Preview, until his death. In 1991, he was the analyst for Pac-10 games on Prime Ticket, a cable channel based in Los Angeles.
Honors and death
Heinrich was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1987.
He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in June 1991, and died at age 62 at his home in Saratoga, California.