Sam Rutigliano

Induction Year: 2009 Sport: Football

It seemed that Sam Rutigliano never met a person he didn’t like.And if he ever did, it’s likely he still found time to talk to him.Unlike too many of the football coaches at this time, Rutigliano was as outgoing and gregarious as any coach the Cleveland Browns have ever had.From 1978 to 1984 he guided the Browns.While his Cleveland coaching ledger might show a 47-50 record, the entire North Coast is forever linked with Rutigliano’s 1980 team – The Kardiac Kids.The silence was deafening on that bitter Sunday after Red Right 88 wound up as the heartbreaking interception that ended the Cleveland season, but Rutigliano has done more than his share to put the game and life in perspective since then.When the NFL was drifting into society’s infatuation with cocaine in the 1980s, Rutigliano made his most important call by establishing the team’s anonymous support group, the Inner Circle.It remains more important than any loss.The native of Brooklyn N.Y., whose East Coast accent has become familiar in these parts, put together a football resume that included playing at Tennessee and Tulsa; high school in New York; college coaching at Connecticut, Maryland and Tennessee; and NFL positions with Denver, New England, New York Jets and New Orleans before the Browns.After broadcasting work, he was the head coach at Liberty University for 11 seasons until 1999.Now we see and hear him on local radio and television shows as he dissects the home team.It would have been nice to get one more win at the end of that long ago special season.But Rutigliano has shown himself to be a special winner when it comes to the courageous matters in life.