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Former Lions head coach Rick Forzano passes away at age 90

Allen Park, Mich. – Former Lions Head Coach Rick Forzano passed away Wednesday at the age of 90, the Forzano family confirmed today.

STATEMENT FROM LIONS OWNER AND CHAIRMAN MARTHA FIRESTONE FORD

“Rick was a wonderful man and we are truly saddened by the news of his passing. On behalf of me, my family and the Lions organization, I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to the entire Forzano family. Our thoughts are with his wife Betty, daughters Stacey and Kristie and his son, Rick Jr.”

After graduating from Kent State in 1951, the Akron, Ohio native coached on the high school level for five years before embarking on a college coaching career that included stints as an assistant at Wooster (1956), Kent State (1957-58) and Navy (1959-63).  

In 1964 he became the head coach at the University of Connecticut (1964-65) and went on to be an assistant coach in the NFL at St. Louis (1966-67) and Cincinnati (1968). He returned to the Naval Academy in 1969 where he was Head Coach for the Midshipmen from 1969-72.

Forzano then joined the Lions as an assistant coach in 1973 and became the team’s head coach prior to the start of 1974 season. He served as head coach for the 1974 and ‘75 seasons, as well as the first four games in 1976. He compiled a 15-17 record as Lions Head Coach.  

Forzano was the last head coach to lead the Lions at Tiger Stadium (1974 season) and the first Lions head coach at the Pontiac Silverdome (1975 season).

In his three seasons at the helm in Detroit, Forzano constructed coaching staffs that included four future NFL head coaches. Raymond Berry went on to coach the New England Patriots from 1984-89, Joe Bugel coached the Phoenix Cardinals from 1990-93 and Oakland Raiders in 1997 and Jerry Glanville coached the Houston Oilers from 1985-89 and Atlanta Falcons from 1990-93. Bill Belichick, who received his first full-time coaching job from Forzano in 1976, went on to coach the Cleveland Browns from 1991-95 and started his current position as the head coach of the Patriots in 2000.

Following his coaching career, Forzano started Rick Forzano Associates Inc. in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., which specializes in introducing domestic and international companies to the U.S. Government, Military, Heavy Truck and Automotive Industries. He also was a football color analyst with ABC-TV and NBC radio.

Forzano is survived by his wife, Betty, daughters Stacey and Kristie and his son, Rick Jr.

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