Fritz Shurmur

Fritz Shurmur
Sport(s) Football
Biographical details
Born (1932-07-15)July 15, 1932
Wyandotte, Michigan
Died August 30, 1999(1999-08-30) (aged 67)
Suamico, Wisconsin
Alma mater Albion College
Playing career
1951–1953 Albion
Position(s) Center
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1954–1955 Albion (GA)
1956–1961 Albion (DC)
1962–1970 Wyoming (assistant)
1971–1974 Wyoming
1975–1976 Detroit Lions (DL)
1977 Detroit Lions (DC/DL)
1978–1979 New England Patriots (DL)
1980–1981 New England Patriots (DC/DL)
1982–1990 Los Angeles Rams (DC)
1991–1993 Phoenix Cardinals (DC)
1994–1998 Green Bay Packers (DC)
Head coaching record
Overall 15–29
Accomplishments and honors
All-MIAA (1953)
MIAA Most Valuable Player (1953)

Leonard Frank "Fritz" Shurmur (July 15, 1932 – August 30, 1999) was an American football coach. He served as the head football coach at the University of Wyoming from 1971 to 1974, compiling a record of 15–29. He was subsequently an assistant coach in the National Football League (NFL) with the Detroit Lions (1975–1977), New England Patriots (1978–1981), Los Angeles Rams (1982–1990), Phoenix Cardinals (1991–1993), and Green Bay Packers (1994–1998). Shurmur was the defensive coordinator for the 1996 Green Bay Packers team that won Super Bowl XXXI. He was the uncle of former Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur.

Early life

Shurmur was nicknamed Fritz as a baby, after his grandfather's cocker spaniel.[1] He grew up in Wyandotte, Michigan along with his parents and his brother, Joseph. His nephew, Pat Shurmur served as the head coach for the Cleveland Browns from 2011 to 2012 and has served in other coaching positions with other NFL teams, including one game as interim head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Shurmur's father was a factory worker for 49 years in the suburbs of Detroit.[2] Shurmur's parents twice refinanced the family home so Fritz and his brother could have opportunities to attend Albion College.[2]

Playing career

Shurmur started playing football in high school at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Wyandotte. Upon completion of high school, he attended and played college football at Albion College in Albion, Michigan. At Albion, Shurmur played center, earned All-Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) honors, and was named the conference's most valuable player. As a complement to football, Shurmur also played baseball at Albion, where he earned all-conference honors.[3]

College coaching career

Shurmur started his coaching career when he became a graduate assistant in 1954, under Albion head coach Morley Fraser. After receiving his master's degree in education administration in 1956, Shurmur stayed at Albion as a defensive coordinator.[4] In 1962, Shurmur accepted a job at the University of Wyoming as a defensive coach. He served on the coaching staff in this capacity until 1970. Following the 1970 season, he was promoted to the Cowboys' head coach and served through four seasons, amassing a record of 15-29.[5]

NFL coaching career

From 1975 to 1998, Shurmur was a defensive coach in the National Football League. He coached for the Detroit Lions, New England Patriots, Los Angeles Rams, Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks. For nineteen of those years he was a defensive coordinator.[1]

Shurmur became defensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers in 1994. In 1997, the Packers won Super Bowl XXXI over the New England Patriots. Shurmur left Green Bay in 1999 to be defensive coordinator with the Seahawks when Mike Holmgren accepted the dual roles of head coach and general manager with Seattle.

Throughout his coaching career, Shurmur was widely known as an innovative mind on defense. Shurmur's coaching style was revered by peers in his profession for defensive genius. For example, in 1992 with the Cardinals, Shurmur had to devise a plan when two linebackers were injured. He developed a "Big Nickel" defense, that used five defensive backs close enough to the line of scrimmage to rush the passer or drop back into coverage.[1]

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Wyoming Cowboys (Western Athletic Conference) (1971–1974)
1971 Wyoming 5–6 3–4 T–4th
1972 Wyoming 4–7 3–4 5th
1973 Wyoming 4–7 3–4 T–4th
1974 Wyoming 2–9 1–6 8th
Wyoming: 15–29 10–18
Total: 15–29


  1. 1 2 3 Litsky, Frank (August 21, 1999). "Fritz Shurmur, 67, a Coach Of Innovative NFL Defenses". The New York Times. Retrieved May 7, 2008.
  2. 1 2 "Green Bay's defensive genius". South Coast Daily. Retrieved May 7, 2008.
  3. "Fritz Shurmur, Former Packers Defensive Coordinator, Dies at 67". Green Bay Packers. Archived from the original on February 5, 2005. Retrieved May 7, 2008.
  4. "Fritz Shurmur Education Institute". Albion College. Retrieved May 7, 2008.
  5. "Wyoming Coaching Record". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved July 8, 2009.
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