Sam Rutigliano

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Sam Rutigliano
Rutigliano around 1979 at the Cleveland Browns practice facility
Biographical details
Born (1933-07-01) July 1, 1933 (age 86)
Brooklyn, New York
Alma mater Tulsa
Playing career
1951–1952 Tennessee
1954–1955 Tulsa
Position(s) End
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1956–1958 Brooklyn (NY) Lafayette HS
1959–1961 Greenwich (CT) HS
1962–1963 Chappaqua (NY) Greeley HS
1964–1965 Connecticut (DB)
1966 Maryland (WR)
1967–1970 Denver Broncos (WR)
1971–1973 New England Patriots (OB/WR)
1974–1975 New York Jets (DB)
1976–1977 New Orleans Saints (WR)
1978–1984 Cleveland Browns
1989–1999 Liberty
2000–2003 Barcelona Dragons (OA)
2004 Scottish Claymores (OA)
2005–2006 Hamburg Sea Devils (OA)
Head coaching record
Overall 47–50 (NFL)
67–53 (college)

Sam William Rutigliano (born July 1, 1933) is a former NFL and college football coach and current television football analyst for WEWS, the ABC affiliate in Cleveland.


Rutigliano, the son of Italian immigrants, played high school football at Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn.[1] He played college football at Tennessee, where he roomed with future professional wrestling star Lou Albano,[2] and Tulsa. He coached at the high school level in New York. This included a stint at Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, NY where he served as athletic director and tried unsuccessfully to change the school's nickname from "Quakers" to the more masculine sounding "Falcons". He then coached at the college level at Connecticut as defensive backs coach from 1964 to 1965[3] and Maryland as wide receivers coach in 1966[4] before landing a professional football assistant coaching job with the American Football League's Denver Broncos in 1967. He would be an assistant with the New England Patriots, New York Jets, and New Orleans Saints over the next 11 years before being given the head coaching job for the Cleveland Browns in 1978.[5]

Over the next six years, Rutigliano was the coach of the famed "Kardiac Kids" Browns. He led the 1980 Browns to the AFC Central Division Championship. The final play of the Browns' playoff game with the Oakland Raiders would be the most memorable moment in Rutigliano's coaching career. Down 14–12 and within field goal range, Rutigliano decided to run one more play rather than kick a game-winning field goal. The play, called "Red Right 88", resulted in an end-zone interception with 41 seconds left that led to the Browns losing. Despite the early playoff exit, Rutigliano received NFL Coach of the Year honors for the 1980 season.

Rutigliano was fired in 1984 after starting the season 1–7. He was replaced by Marty Schottenheimer. In his six and a half seasons with the Browns, Rutigliano compiled a 47–50 record.

After being let go by the Browns, Rutigliano would serve as an analyst for NBC Sports and ESPN for three years. In 1988, he was given the head coaching job at Liberty University, a post he would hold for eleven years until retiring in 1999.

Rutigliano would go on to be an assistant coach under Jack Bicknell with the Barcelona Dragons and Scottish Claymores, both of NFL Europe.

Beginning in 2005, "Coach Sam" (as he is known as in Cleveland) became a Browns analyst for WKYC channel 3 in Cleveland (NBC), and also for SportsTime Ohio when it began operations in 2006. In 2011, he moved to WEWS-TV 5 (ABC) to become a Browns analyst.

Player addiction recovery program

Rutigliano in 2012

Throughout the 1970s, substance abuse, particularly of cocaine, was a rampant problem among NFL players. During Rutigliano's tenure with the Browns, the NFL mandated the hiring of a psychiatric professional specializing in substance abuse, and Rutigliano was the first NFL coach to comply with the policy. Dr. Gregory Collins of the Cleveland Clinic was hired as the Browns' addiction recovery physician. Wanting to take the policy further to assist those players who would not come forward with their addiction problems, with the support of team owner Art Modell, Rutigliano founded an anonymous support group known as the "Inner Circle", which was attended by approximately a dozen Browns players. The support group was assisted by the efforts of Calvin Hill and Paul Warfield. Only Charles White, who chose to go into a rehab center in Los Angeles, lost his anonymity among the group's members.

Rutigliano considered the Inner Circle his greatest accomplishment as an NFL coach,[6] and on November 14, 2007, Rutigliano was given the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence's Bronze Key Award by the NCADD's Northeast Ohio affiliate, Recovery Resources. In his speech presenting the award to Rutigliano, Dr. Collins, now Section Head of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation's Drug and Alcohol Recovery Center and 2006 Bronze Key Award winner, lobbied to have Rutigliano inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his work with the Inner Circle.

Head coaching record


Team Year Regular season Postseason
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
CLE 1978 8 8 0 .500 3rd in AFC Central -
CLE 1979 9 7 0 .563 3rd in AFC Central
CLE 1980 11 5 0 .688 1st in AFC Central 0 1 .000 Lost to Oakland Raiders in AFC Divisional Game.
CLE 1981 5 11 0 .313 4th in AFC Central
CLE 1982 4 5 0 .444 3rd in AFC Central 0 1 .000 Lost to L.A. Raiders in AFC Wild-Card Game.
CLE 1983 9 7 0 .563 2nd in AFC Central
CLE 1984 1 7 0 .125 3rd in AFC Central
CLE Total 47 50 0 .485 0 2 .000
Total[7] 47 50 0 .485 0 2 .000


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs TSN[8]#
Liberty Flames (NCAA Division I-AA independent) (1989–1999)
1989 Liberty 7–3
1990 Liberty 7–4
1991 Liberty 4–7
1992 Liberty 7–4
1993 Liberty 6–5
1994 Liberty 5–6
1995 Liberty 8–3
1996 Liberty 5–6
1997 Liberty 9–2
1998 Liberty 5–6
1999 Liberty 4–7
Liberty: 67–53
Total: 67–53
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth


  1. ^ "The Rumble: AN OFF-THE-BALL LOOK AT YOUR FAVORITE SPORTS CELEBRITIES", New York Post, December 31, 2006. Accessed December 13, 2007. "The five Erasmus Hall of Fame legends include Raiders owner Al Davis, Bears quarterback Sid Luckman, Yankee pitching great Waite Hoyt, Billy Cunningham and Knicks founder Ned Irish. Other sports notables include Bulls/White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, chess champion Bobby Fischer, ex-Browns head coach Sam Rutigliano, legendary NBA referee Norm Drucker and "Boys of Summer" author Roger Kahn."
  2. ^ Albano, Lou (2008). Often Imitated, Never Duplicated: Captain Lou Albano. GEAN Publishing. pp. 10–13. ISBN 978-0-615-18998-7.
  3. ^ "UConn football spring game capsule". Connecticut Post. April 20, 2013. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  4. ^ "The football coaches". Maryland Football Guide. University of Maryland, College Park. 1966. p. 10.
  5. ^ "Sam Rutigliano". Liberty University. Archived from the original on June 13, 2000. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  6. ^ "Sam Rutigliano: A Coach of Football – and Life". Retrieved November 20, 2007. The Inner Circle was one of my greatest accomplishments. Wins and losses are okay, but this, this matters.
  7. ^ Sam Rutigliano Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks –
  8. ^ Final poll standings are from The Sports Network Archived April 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.

External links

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