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Former Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham dies at age 72

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Detroit Lions v Denver Broncos Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Former Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham has died at the age of 72, the Pro Football Writers of America Association announced on Monday morning.

Cunningham’s coaching goes all the way back to 1969, when he served as the defensive line coach for the Oregon Ducks. After spending 13 years at the college level, Cunningham finally got his shot at the pros in 1982 as the defensive line and linebackers coach of the Baltimore Colts.

From there, he earned his first coordinator job in 1992 with the Los Angeles Raiders and got a head coaching job with the Chiefs by the end of the decade.

He first joined the Detroit Lions in 2009, hired by new head coach Jim Schwartz as the team’s defensive coordinator. A few years later, the Lions would have one of the most feared defenses in the league. He would eventually drop out of coaching and become a senior coaching assistant with the team for a few years. In 2017, he decided to drop out completely and help with football analytics site Pro Football Focus.

The Lions offered this official statement on the passing of Cunningham: