Sam Rutigliano
Rutigliano around 1979 at the Cleveland Browns practice facility
Personal information
Date of birth (1933-07-01)July 1, 1933
Place of birth Brooklyn, New York
Head coaching record
Career record 47–50 (NFL)
67–53 (NCAA)
Playing stats DatabaseFootball
Team(s) as a player
Rutigliano also coached Greenwich, Ct. high school for 4 years leading the team to the State Championship in 1962.
Team(s) as a coach/administrator
1978- 1984

Cleveland Browns
(Head Coach)
Liberty Flames
(Head Coach)

Sam Rutigliano (born July 1, 1933) is a former National Football League head coach.


Rutigliano, the son of Italian immigrants, played high school football at Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn.[1] He played college football at Tennessee 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 tried to change the school's nickname from "Quakers" to the more masculine sounding "Falcons". He then coached at the college level at Connecticut, Maryland and Tennessee 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.

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 a game-ending interception. 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 programEdit

Throughout the 1970s, substance abuse, particularly of cocaine, was a rampant problem among unmarried 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,[2] 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 recordEdit


Team Year Regular Season Post Season
WonLostTiesWin %Finish Won Lost Win % Result
CLE1978 880.5003rd in AFC Central-
CLE1979 970.5633rd in AFC Central
CLE1980 1150.6881st in AFC Central 0 1 .000 Lost to Oakland Raiders in AFC Divisional Game.
CLE1981 5110.3134th in AFC Central
CLE1982 450.4443rd in AFC Central 0 1 .000 Lost to L.A. Raiders in AFC Wild-Card Game.
CLE1983 970.5632nd in AFC Central
CLE1984 170.1253rd in AFC Central
CLE Total47500.48502.000
Total[3]47500.485 0 2 .000


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs TSN[4]#
Liberty Flames (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


  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. "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."
  3. Sam Rutigliano Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks –
  4. Final poll standings are from The Sports Network.

External linksEdit

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