Sam Rutigliano

Sam William Rutigliano (born July 1, 1931) is a former American football coach and current television football analyst for WEWS, the ABC affiliate in Cleveland. He served as the head coach for the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League (NFL) from 1978 to 1984, compiling a record of 47–50. Rutigliano was the head football coach at Liberty University from 1989 to 1999, tallying a mark of 67–53.

Sam Rutigliano
Sam Rutigliano.png
Rutigliano in 2012
Biographical details
Born (1931-07-01) July 1, 1931 (age 91)
Brooklyn, New York
Playing career
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1956–1958Lafayette HS (NY)
1959–1961Greenwich HS (CT)
1962–1963Horace Greeley HS (NY)
1964–1965Connecticut (DB)
1966Maryland (WR)
1967–1970Denver Broncos (WR)
1971–1973New England Patriots (OB/WR)
1974–1975New York Jets (DB)
1976–1977New Orleans Saints (WR)
1978–1984Cleveland Browns
2000–2003Barcelona Dragons (OA)
2004Scottish Claymores (OA)
2005–2006Hamburg Sea Devils (OA)
Head coaching record
Overall47–50 (NFL)
67–53 (college)


Rutigliano around 1979 at the Cleveland Browns practice facility

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.[3][4] He coached at the high school level in New York and Connecticut, including Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, NY and Greenwich High School.[5][6][7][8]

He was then defensive backs coach at the University of Connecticut from 1964 to 1965[9] and the wide receivers coach at the University of Maryland in 1966.[10] In 1967, he became a professional football assistant with the Denver Broncos in 1967.[11] He was an assistant with the New England Patriots, New York Jets, and New Orleans Saints over the next eleven years before being given the head coaching job for the Cleveland Browns in 1978.[12][13]

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.[14] The final play of the Browns' playoff game with the Oakland Raiders would be the most memorable moment in Rutigliano's coaching career.[15] Down 14–12 and within field goal range, Rutigliano decided to run one more play rather than kick a game-winning field goal.[15] The play, called "Red Right 88", resulted in an end-zone interception with 41 seconds left that led to the Browns losing.[15] Despite the early playoff exit, Rutigliano received NFL Coach of the Year honors for the 1980 season.[16]

Rutigliano was fired in 1984 after starting the season 1–7. He was replaced by Marty Schottenheimer.[17] In his six and a half seasons with the Browns, Rutigliano compiled a 47–50 record.[18]

After being let go by the Browns, Rutigliano served as an analyst for NBC Sports and ESPN for three years.[19] In 1988, he was given the head coaching job at Liberty University,[20] a post he would hold for eleven years until retiring in 2000.[21]

Rutigliano worked as an assistant coach under Jack Bicknell with the Barcelona Dragons and Scottish Claymores, both of NFL Europe.[19]

Beginning in 2005, Rutigliano became a Browns analyst for WKYC channel 3 in Cleveland and also for SportsTime Ohio when it began operations in 2006.[19] In 2011, he moved to WEWS-TV 5 to become their Browns analyst.[19]

Player addiction recovery programEdit

Throughout the 1970s, substance abuse, particularly of cocaine, was a rampant problem among NFL players.[22] During Rutigliano's tenure with the Browns, he and Dr. Gregory Collins of the Cleveland Clinic, with the support of team owner Art Modell, founded an anonymous support group known as the "Inner Circle" to help players with substance abuse problems.[23]

In 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.[24]

Head coaching recordEdit


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 Los Angeles 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[25] 47 50 0 .485 0 2 .000


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs TSN[26]#
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 25
1998 Liberty 5–6
1999 Liberty 4–7
Liberty: 67–53
Total: 67–53


  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. ^ Call, Jeff (December 29, 2011). "BYU football: Win over Cougars would be feather in Tulsa's cap". Deseret News. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  4. ^ "Alumnus Sam Rutigliano to Join Mississippi Community College Sports Hall of Fame". March 15, 2019. Retrieved March 2, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ Eskenazi, Gerald (July 25, 1975). "Jets' Rookie Runs Backwards For the Chance to Play in Pros (Published 1975)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 2, 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ Skodnick, Leif (February 3, 2015). "Once more into the end zone". WAG MAGAZINE. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  7. ^ "Girl Killed; Coach, Wife Hurt In Crash". August 18, 1962. Retrieved March 2, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ "UConns Name Football Aide (Published 1964)". The New York Times. July 13, 1964. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  9. ^ "UConn football spring game capsule". Connecticut Post. April 20, 2013. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  10. ^ "The football coaches". Maryland Football Guide. University of Maryland, College Park. 1966. p. 10.
  11. ^ "Sam Rutigliano To Follow Saban". December 21, 1966. Retrieved March 2, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ "Sam Rutigliano". Liberty University. Archived from the original on June 13, 2000. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  13. ^ Upi (October 23, 1984). "BROWNS, AT 1-7, DROP RUTIGLIANO (Published 1984)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  14. ^ Podolski, Mark. "Recap of the Browns' 'Kardiac Kids' season of 1980". The News-Herald. Retrieved March 2, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. ^ a b c Schudel, Jeff. "Frozen in time: Newsome recalls Red Right 88 in Browns' 1980 playoff loss to Raiders". The News-Herald. Retrieved March 2, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. ^ "Little Liberty lets Rutigliano pursue a happy life, career". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  17. ^ "Rutigliano Fired by Browns". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  18. ^ "Sam Rutigliano, fired Monday as coach of the Cleveland..." UPI. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  19. ^ a b c d Tressler, Jonathan. "Former Cleveland Browns Coach Sam Rutigliano to speak at Lakeland's 51st Commencement". The News-Herald. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  20. ^ Pucin, Diane. "AT LIBERTY UNIVERSITY, IT'S IN GOD THEY TRUST". Retrieved March 2, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  21. ^ "Liberty Coach Retires After 11 years". AP NEWS. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  22. ^ Litsky, Frank (June 10, 1982). "PLAYER TELLS OF WIDE DRUG USE IN N.F.L. (Published 1982)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  23. ^ Reed, Tom (June 7, 2014). "Former Cleveland Browns coach Sam Rutigliano says relaxing NFL rules on marijuana would be a 'catastrophe'". cleveland. Retrieved March 2, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  24. ^ "Sam Rutigliano on Johnny Manziel: 'Recovery makes a life'". February 3, 2015. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  25. ^ Sam Rutigliano Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks –
  26. ^ Final poll standings are from The Sports Network Archived April 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.

External linksEdit