Former Seattle Seahawks head coach Chuck Knox dies at 86

Former Seattle Seahawks head coach Chuck Knox has died at the age of 86. (KOMO News)

SEATTLE -- Former Seattle Seahawks head coach Chuck Knox has died at the age of 86.

The Rams and Seahawks said Sunday that Knox died Saturday night.

Knox led the Seahawks to their first-ever playoffs in his first season as Seahawks head coach in 1983. He went on to coach the team through the 1991 season.

He was a member of the Seahawks Ring of Honor and was named NFL Coach of the Year twice with the Seahawks.

"The Seahawks family is saddened by the loss of Chuck Knox, and our deepest sympathies are extended to his wife, Shirley, and the entire Knox family," the Seahawks said in a statement Sunday.

The statement went on to say Knox was "a beloved figurehead by players, coaches and staff. His presence projected an external toughness, but merited instantaneous respect by the genuine care and concern he held for his players."

Knox went 186-147-1 during 22 seasons as an NFL head coach, including two stints with the Rams. He won five straight NFC West titles from 1973-77, and he returned in 1992 for the franchise's final three seasons in Los Angeles before its move to St. Louis.

The Pennsylvania native left the Rams in 1978 for the Buffalo Bills. After five seasons, he took over the Seahawks in 1983 and immediately led the franchise to its first playoff berth and the AFC title game.

Knox was a two-way tackle at Juniata College in Pennsylvania, serving as a captain on the school's undefeated 1953 team. He began his coaching career as an assistant at Juniata. He was a high school assistant at Tyrone and then head coach at Ellwood City before moving on to Wake Forest and Kentucky.

Knox entered professional football in the AFL with the New York Jets as offensive line coach in 1963, and played a key role in the recruitment of quarterback Joe Namath. He remained with the Jets until 1966, and was then offensive line coach with the Detroit Lions from 1967-1972.

His granddaughter tweeted the following Sunday:

"RIP Popster. I'll miss you forever. You have always been my dad. You gave me more guidance, hope, encouragement than anyone ever has. I will treasure you forever. No one else will ever compare."

Long-time fans told KOMO News that Knox helped the Seahawks earn respect around the entire league.

"He’ll remembered in this town with nothing but very positive, positive fond memories," said Jerry Lawrence. "Very hard-nosed coach. Had to play the game his way or you weren’t on his team. But that tough-mindedness, running the ball, tough on defense, not take any crap from anybody. So, that was always the impression I had from him."

Every time Shannon Michael thinks of Knox, she thinks of her late grandmother, Grace.

"I’ll never forget that first Sunday watching a Seahawks game with my grandmother and the TV does a tight shot of Chuck Knox’s face and he was just known for his piercing blue eyes. And my grandmother looked at the TV, she sighed, and she goes ‘That man could eat crackers in my bed anytime.’" said Michael, who moved to Western Washington in September 1983. "I was just mortified. 20 years old and my grandmother saying something like that, and I died laughing, but that was my grandmother and to this day when I think of Chuck Knox, I think of his piercing blue eyes and my grandmother."

Michael told KOMO News that she's been a fan of the Seahawks ever since.

"She made me a life-long Seahawks fan, for sure," Michael said.

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