May 13 (UPI) — Former Kansas City Chiefs head coach Gunther Cunningham died Saturday after a brief illness.
Cunningham, who last held an on-field coaching role as the Detroit Lions‘ defensive coordinator from 2009 to 2013, was 72.
“Gunther Cunningham will forever be remembered as one of the great men of our game,” the Lions said in a statement Monday.
“He left a lasting impact on every person who was fortunate enough to work alongside him during his more than 47 years as a coach — including 34 years in the National Football League, the final eight of which were spent here in Detroit. Our organization is truly honored and proud to have been included in his distinguished coaching legacy. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to his wife, René, and their entire family.”
Cunningham began his coaching career as the Oregon Ducks’ defensive line coach in 1969. He joined the NFL ranks in 1982 as the then-Baltimore Colts’ defensive line and linebackers coach.
Cunningham was 16-16 as Kansas City’s head coach from 1999 to 2000. He returned to the Chiefs as the team’s defensive coordinator from 2004 to 2008.
Cunningham held an off-field role with the Lions from 2014 to 2016.
Born in Germany, Cunningham became an American citizen in 2010.