GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) _ Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur, the architect of the Green Bay Packers’ defense that dominated the league in 1996, died today at age 67.
Shurmur was in his 20th year as an NFL defensive coordinator. He followed Mike Holmgren to Seattle in January when Holmgren was hired as the Seahawks’ coach and GM.
He returned to the Green Bay area for treatment of esophageal and liver cancer, which was found during a routine checkup in May. Shurmur died at his home in nearby Suamico.
Shurmur’s death was first reported today by The Post-Crescent of Appleton and confirmed by a team source who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Shurmur spent five seasons with the Packers and was instrumental in the team’s run to consecutive Super Bowl appearances. He also served as a defensive coach with the Phoenix Cardinals, the Los Angeles Rams, the New England Patriots and the Detroit Lions.
Shurmur joined the Packers in 1994, replacing current Green Bay head coach Ray Rhodes as defensive coordinator.
Shurmur was the league’s longest-serving defensive coordinator. He was the Rams’ defensive coordinator from 1983-90 and spent three years in Phoenix before joining the Packers.
Shurmur was known as a defensive innovator and a premiere teacher of the game. He wrote four books on defense and coached for his entire adult life, beginning in 1954 as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Albion (Mich.) College.
He was a defensive coach at the University of Wyoming from 1962-70 and head coach at the school from 1971-74. A native of Wyandotte, Mich., he held a master’s degree in education and received an honorary doctorate from Albion in 1997.
Holmgren had assigned Shurmur’s duties in Seattle to linebackers coach Jim Lind, who received Shurmur’s endorsement.