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Chiefs Hire Cunningham As Coach

January 22, 1999

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Gunther Cunningham, a hard-nosed defensive coordinator who is a favorite among players, has been hired as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, sources confirmed to The Associated Press.

A source within the Chiefs who asked not to be named said Cunningham, 49, would be announced as the new coach at a 1 p.m. news conference.

Cunningham replaces Marty Schottenheimer, who won 101 games in 10 years with the Chiefs but resigned unexpectedly on Jan. 11 following a troubled 7-9 campaign, his first losing season in 15 years as a head coach.

``Everyone around here is delighted for Gunn,″ said a Chiefs’ source.

President/general manager Carl Peterson spent most of the week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., interviewing candidates. Former Carolina coach Dom Capers was also thought to be among the front-runners.

Two other members of the current staff, assistant head coach Al Saunders and offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye, were also interviewed to replace Schottenheimer.

Cunningham, known as a tireless worker in a professional filled with workaholics, began his coaching career at Oregon, his alma mater, in 1969 and became a pro coach with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League in 1981. He was an assistant with the Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers and Los Angeles Raiders before joining Schottenheimer’s staff in 1995. He also interviewed for the Chicago Bears’ job.

Under Cunningham, the Chiefs’ defense led the NFL in fewest points allowed in 1995 and ’97 but slipped last season amid an epidemic of injuries and poor play that doomed the Chiefs to their first losing season since 1988.

There was no immediate word of what would happen with the rest of the Chiefs’ staff. Two others, offensive coordinator and assistant head coach Al Saunders, had applied for Schottenheimer’s job.

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