Mike Westhoff and the late Gunther Cunningham have won the 2019 Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman Award from the Professional Football Writers of America.
Cunningham spent 33 of his 35 NFL seasons as an assistant coach, renowned for his feared defensive units in Kansas City over two stints and nine seasons as the Chiefs’ defensive coordinator. Westhoff spent 32 seasons as an NFL assistant coach and is regarded as a special teams pioneer.
The Dr. Z Award is given for lifetime achievement as an assistant coach in the NFL and is named for Zimmerman, who covered the NFL for 29 years as Sports Illustrated’s pro football writer.
Cunningham, born in Germany, was a three-year linebacker and placekicker at Oregon (1966-68), and started his coaching career with the Ducks as a defensive line coach (1969-71). He also was a college assistant at Arkansas, Stanford, and California. His first pro job was with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1981 as defensive line and linebackers coach. In 1982, he entered the NFL with the same jobs for the Baltimore Colts.
Cunningham spent six seasons with the San Diego Chargers,…