clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Former Raiders Defensive Coordinator, Chiefs head coach Gunther Cunningham passes at 72

New, comments
Kansas City Chiefs v Oakland Raiders

The NFL lost a great mind today. Gunther Cunningham, who coached in the NFL ranks for 25 years, 18 of which as either a defensive coordinator or head coach, has passed away at the age of 72.

Most will remember Cunningham for his 11 years with the Chiefs as defensive coordinator with a 2-year stint as head coach (1999-00). But prior to his time in Kansas City, Cunningham spent four years on the Raiders coaching staff, including getting his first NFL Defensive Coordinator job with the LA Raiders in 1992.

The University of Oregon alum got his first coaching job at Oregon in 1969 as a Defensive Line Coach. He would coach at the college ranks for 12 years including long stints at Stanford (1973-76) and Cal (1977-80) where he would first become a Defensive Coordinator.

Gunther’s first NFL coaching job was as the defensive line and linebackers coach for the Colts in 1982. He would go on to become the defensive line coach for the Chargers from 1985-90 before joining the Raiders as linebackers coach in 1992 and was promoted to DC the following season.

In 1995, he would join the Chiefs as Defensive Coordinator and after four seasons in the position, he was promoted to head coach. In two seasons as Chiefs head coach he would have a 16-16 record, going 9-7 in his first season and 7-9 in his second and final season.

From there he would spent three years with the Titans as Assistant Head Coach and Linebackers Coach before returning for another 5-year stint in Kansas City as Defensive Coordinator from 2004-08.

Cunningham would spent the final eight years of his NFL coaching career with the Lions, first as Defensive Coordinator (2009-13) and finally as Senior Defensive Assistant (2014-16).

The Lions released a statement on Cunningham’s passing.

The Chiefs later put out a statement as well.