Bob Karmelowicz Dies at the Age of 60

Posted May 2, 2010

Allen Park, Mich.—Bob Karmelowicz, a 35-year coaching veteran who most recently served as the Lions defensive line coach in 2009, died Saturday, May 1 2010 following an illness. He was 60.

Karmelowicz is survived by his wife, Olga, daughters, Liz and Marissa, and son, Dave. "On behalf of the William Clay Ford Family and the entire Detroit Lions organization, we offer our sincere sympathies to the Karmelowicz family," said Lions President Tom Lewand.

"Bob touched many lives throughout his years of coaching and positively impacted the careers of countless players at both the collegiate and professional level. While he was only with the Lions for one season, his contributions to our team last year were greatly appreciated and he will be missed by all of us."

For the past 18 seasons, Karmelowicz worked with the defensive line for five NFL teams: Detroit Lions (2009), Houston Texans (2006-08), Kansas City Chiefs (1997-05), Washington Redskins (1994-96) and Cincinnati Bengals (1992-93).

Prior to joining the Lions last year, Karmelowicz spent the past three seasons with the Houston Texans. While with the Texans, he was instrumental in the development DE Mario Williams, the first overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. In Williams’ second season (2007), he exploded as a pass rusher when he jumped from 4.5 sacks as a rookie to 14 sacks the following year.

From 1997-2005, Karmelowicz was the defensive line coach for the Kansas City Chiefs where he worked under Lions Defensive Coordinator Gunther Cunningham. Karmelowicz helped develop Pro Bowl DE Jared Allen after he was selected in the fourth round of the 2004 NFL Draft. During Allen’s first two NFL seasons (2004-05), he registered 20 sacks (nine in 2004 as a rookie and 11 in 2005) under Karmelowicz tutelage.

“I’ve had the privilege of coaching with and against ‘Karm’ for a long time and he was one tough guy,” said Cunningham, who spent six seasons (1997-00 and 2004-05) coaching with Karmelowicz in Kansas City. “Though his coaching success on the field speaks for itself, I will always remember him for how much he loved kids, his compassion for helping kids and how much he cared for his grandkids. That will always be his lasting impression on me.”

Prior to his nine-year tenure with the Chiefs, Karmelowicz worked three seasons as the defensive line coach with the Washington Redskins (1994-96), and his first stop in the NFL was with Cincinnati as the Bengals’ defensive line coach from 1992-93.

Karmelowicz entered the pro ranks following a three-year (1989-91) coaching stint as the defensive line coach for the Miami Hurricanes. He was a member of the Hurricanes’ coaching staff that led the Hurricanes to a 33-3 record over those three seasons and claimed two National Championships. As the Hurricanes’ defensive line coach, he developed All-Americans DT Cortez Kennedy (third overall selection in 1990 NFL Draft) and DT Russell Maryland (first overall selection in 1991 NFL Draft).

Another of Karmelowicz notable college coaching accomplishments occurred when he coached DT Warren Sapp’s transition from tight end to defensive tackle early in Sapp’s college career. He also recruited and coached movie actor and former professional wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Johnson played defensive tackle for Karmelowicz at Miami.

Before joining the Hurricanes coaching staff, he coached on the college level at Washington State (1987-88), Illinois (1983-86), UNLV (1982), Texas-El Paso (1981), Massachusetts (1980) and his first five years as a coach at Arizona State (1975-79). He served as an offensive line coach at UTEP, Massachusetts and Arizona State, and he was both a defensive line and offensive line coach at Illinois.

Karmelowicz, a native of Plainville, Conn., was a three-year starter and consensus Little All-America nose tackle at the University of Bridgeport, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1972. He received a master’s degree from Arizona State in 1977.

Visitation is at 9 a.m. and Mass is at 10 a.m. Friday, May 7 at the Church of the Divine Child in Dearborn, Mich. (1055 N. Silvery Lane; Dearborn, MI 48128).