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Former Steelers defensive coordinator Woody Widenhofer dies at 77

Steelers Woody Widenhofer

PITTSBURGH, PA - CIRCA 1979: Defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Woody Widenhofer of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on from the field during a practice session at Three Rivers Stadium circa 1979 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

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Former Steelers assistant coach Woody Widenhofer died Sunday at age 77.

“We are saddened to learn of the passing of Woody Widenhofer,” Steelers president Art Rooney II said in a statement. “Woody played an important role coaching our famed Steel Curtain defense when he helped us win four Super Bowls in the 1970s. He coached some of the best linebackers in NFL history during his time in Pittsburgh and was later elevated to defensive coordinator, where he guided the defense in our Super Bowl XIV victory over the Los Angeles Rams.

“A local native of Butler, Woody will be missed by those who knew him and played under him. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Widenhofer family.”

Widenhofer won four Super Bowls as a defensive assistant with the Steelers. He coached the team’s linebackers from 1973-78, and his position group included Hall of Famers Jack Lambert and Jack Ham.

From 1979-83, Widenhofer served as the Steelers’ defensive coordinator.

He was the head coach of the Oklahoma Outlaws of the United States Football League in 1984. His other head coaching jobs were at Missouri and Vanderbilt.

Widenhofer also spent six years as defensive coordinator of the Lions under Wayne Fontes and two years as linebackers coach with the Browns under Bill Belichick.