Former Kansas City Chiefs head coach and defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham died Saturday after a brief illness. He was 72.
Chiefs Chairman Clark Hunt released a statement on behalf of the Chiefs organization.
“My family and I are deeply saddened to hear the news of Gunther’s passing. During his nine seasons as defensive coordinator and two as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, he led some of the most feared defenses in our franchise’s history with his energetic and motivating coaching style. Gunther made a tremendous impact on so many lives on and off the playing field in nearly five decades of coaching. Our heartfelt condolences go out to René, Natalie, Adam and the entire Cunningham family during this difficult time.”
Cunningham began his coaching career in 1969 as an Oregon assistant. In 1982 he got his first NFL job as an assistant with the Baltimore Colts. He spent time with the San Diego Chargers and Los Angeles Raiders before moving to Kansas City as the defensive coordinator from 1995-1998. In 1999, he succeeded Marty Schottenheimer as the Chiefs head coach for two seasons where he compiled a 16-16 record.
Cunningham was defensive coordinator for Detroit (2009-2013) and a senior coaching assistant (2014-2016).
Cunningham is survived by his wife, Rene, sons Grant and Adam and daughter Natalie.