News Release

Elder S. Gifford Nielsen Reflects on the Life and Impact of Coach LaVell Edwards


Legendary American football coach, LaVell Edwards, died at age 86 last week. Edwards was the head football coach at Brigham Young University from 1972 to 2000.

He is regarded as one of college football’s most successful leaders, with 257 career victories, a national championship and many celebrated players to his credit. 

The Deseret News recently reported on the impact that Coach Edwards had on the life of Elder S. Gifford Nielsen, First Counselor in the Pacific Area Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  

Elder Nielsen became an All-American quarterback while playing at BYU under coach Edwards and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994. He was also named one of the top five scholar athletes. 

After college, he played six seasons as a quarterback for the Houston Oilers in the U.S. National Football League. 

He later worked as the Sports Director and anchor for KHOU-TV in Houston for twenty-five years. 

In 2003 he was given the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award for 25 years of distinguished service after his college athletic career.

He currently serves as a General Authority Seventy for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and since August of 2014 has been given the assignment to be part of the Pacific Area Presidency.

Speaking of Coach Edwards, Elder Nielsen said, “The lessons we learned from him extended far beyond the playing field. He taught us how to succeed in football and, more importantly, how to become leaders in our families, communities and, for many of us, in our church service.”

Elder Nielsen said he has stayed close to his mentor over the years because of his profound influence on him and so many others, “When we get together, I’m usually the one listening because of how wise and profound his comments are — and always have been. He has taught me so much — especially in the past two to three years.

"Coach Edward’s wisdom and leadership are greater than any football game or any athletic contest I’ve ever played in. He never stopped teaching. Our relationship has deepened over the years, and I will truly miss him.”

To read the full article from the Deseret News, click here.


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