The name may not ring a bell with the everyday football fan, but make no mistake: Dom Anile was a legend.
A hugely successful football coach at C.W. Post, he went on to become the director of football operations for the Indianapolis Colts and helped build the team into a Super Bowl champion.
Anile died of natural causes on Feb. 23 in Henderson, Nevada, his family said. He was 80.
Upon hearing of his death, Colts owner Jim Irsay tweeted, “Rest In Peace, Dom Anile. Great, unheralded NFL/Colts talent evaluator, and C.W. Post coaching legend.”
No matter the level, Anile made an impact on the game he loved. He was a lifer and, as with many who share the same passion, there was no tearing Anile away from the gridiron, said his son Dominic Anile Jr., 57, of North Carolina. “He was a football guy,” his son said. “And, with a lot of these football guys, that’s their life — football.”
Pro Football Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian — who was general manager of the Carolina Panthers and then the Colts — made it a point to mention his key executives during his 2015 induction speech, including “the unparalleled Dom Anile.”
Born Dec. 19, 1937, Anile grew up in Brooklyn and graduated from New Utrecht High School. After playing football at Post, Anile coached at his alma mater, serving as head man from 1968 to 1979 and compiling an 84-34-1 record. He is in both the LIU Post football and athletics halls of fame.
After leaving Post, Anile joined the football staff at Columbia University, serving as offensive coordinator in 1981 and 1982 under Bob Nasso. Following the 1982 season, Anile began an impressive career as an NFL scout and front-office executive, working for the Colts, Cleveland Browns and Carolina Panthers.
He served as director of football operations for the Colts from 1998 to 2003, then was assistant general manager for scouting in 2004-05 and a player personal consultant until he left the team in 2009.
Anile was known for, and thrived on, his ability to find diamonds in the rough — potential impact players who were off the radar. One of his favorite examples, his son said, was defensive end Dwight Freeney, whom the Colts took 11th overall in the 2002 NFL draft. Freeney was thought by some to be undersized, but he turned into a star. Freeney recovered a fumble on Feb. 4, 2007, when the Colts beat the Chicago Bears, 29-17, in Super Bowl XLI.
“My dad used to say things like, ‘Everybody knows Peyton Manning is a first-round draft choice, not everyone knows Dwight Freeney is. So I’m going to find Dwight Freeney,’ ” his son said. “If you talk to NFL talent evaluators, they would say that’s what my dad was good at — finding that guy that was special when no one even knew who he was.”
As a coach, Anile made a lasting impact on many of his players.
“He was a very good motivator, passionate about the game, and passionate about his players,” said John Witkowski, a Lindenhurst native who played for Anile at Columbia and later played with the Detroit Lions and Houston Oilers. “I can’t say enough great things about him. He really did teach me the game of football and a lot about life . . . He was like my second father.”
Anile also is survived by his wife, Carol Anile, of Henderson, Nevada; son Gary Anile of Ohio; daughter Terri Santacrue of Ohio; and seven grandchildren. He will be cremated. There are no planned services, Dominic Anile Jr. said.