Gunther Cunningham

Gunther Cunningham
Detroit Lions
Position: Senior coaching assistant
Personal information
Date of birth: (1946-06-19) June 19, 1946
Place of birth: Munich, Germany
Career information
College: Oregon
Career history
As coach:
Head coaching record
Regular season: 16–16 (.500)
Coaching stats at PFR

Gunther Cunningham (born June 19, 1946) is the American football senior coaching assistant for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL).[1] Cunningham has presided over some of the most successful defenses in NFL history as a defensive coordinator (1995 and 1997), typically ranking at the top of the league in many statistical categories.

Early life

Cunningham was born in 1946 in war-torn Munich, Germany to an American serviceman and a German mother before moving to the United States at age ten. He attended the University of Oregon, where he played linebacker and placekicker before embarking on a coaching career that has now spanned almost forty years.

Coaching career

In 1995, Cunningham was hired by the Chiefs as the defensive coordinator after spending the previous four seasons as a coach with the Los Angeles Raiders.

During his original tenure as defensive coordinator, Cunningham's defenses allowed an average of only 16.4 points per game, the best mark in the NFL and had a turnover margin of +30, tops in the AFC. Under his lead, a number of players excelled, including stars such as Derrick Thomas, Neil Smith, James Hasty, and Dale Carter. Cunningham's defenses led Kansas City to an overall record of 42-22.

After the Chiefs missed the playoffs in 1998, head coach Marty Schottenheimer resigned, opening the door for Cunningham's promotion to the head coach position. In his first season, the Chiefs finished 9-7, but were eliminated from playoff contention on the final day of the season when the Oakland Raiders's Joe Nedney kicked a field goal as time expired. After the Chiefs regressed to 7-9 a year later, Cunningham was fired and replaced by Dick Vermeil. The move was controversial at the time as Cunningham claims he was never informed by management that he was to be fired, and apparently only found out about it after discovering the article regarding his termination on the Chiefs website after he showed up to work one morning. Cunningham went on to become a successful linebackers coach for the Tennessee Titans. Under Vermeil, the Chiefs' offense exploded, but its defense struggled, resulting in the firing of Vermeil's choice of defensive coordinator, Greg Robinson. Cunningham was hired again to revitalize a defense that had finished near or at the bottom of the overall rankings since Schottenheimer and Cunningham departed.

For the 2008 season, Cunningham coached the Chiefs' linebackers as well as serving as the defensive coordinator.

Cunningham was hired as the Detroit Lions defensive coordinator on January 21, 2009, about a week after the Lions hired new head coach Jim Schwartz, who he worked with on the Titans from 2001–2003.[2]

Personal life

He became a naturalized U.S. citizen on April 6, 2010.[3]

Head coaching record

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won LostTiesWin %FinishWonLostWin %Result
KC1999 970.5632nd in AFC West - - - -
KC2000 790.4383rd in AFC West - - - -
KC Total16160.500 - - - -
NFL Total[4]16160.500 - - - -
Total16160.500 - - - -


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