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Former Packers defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur receives Canton honor

Recipients of Pro Football Hall of Fame’s inaugural awards of excellence include revered assistant coach from Super Bowl XXXI champs

Former Packers defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur
Former Packers defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur

GREEN BAY – It's not a bust in Canton, but his name will be there permanently nonetheless.

The late former Packers defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur was among the recipients of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's inaugural awards of excellence, which were conferred recently. Shurmur was the architect of the Packers' defense that led the NFL in points allowed in the Super Bowl championship season of 1996.

The initiative, in conjunction with the NFL Alumni Association, was designed to recognize individuals from four groups who work to drive team success within the sport – assistant coaches, athletic trainers, equipment managers and public relations personnel.

Shurmur is one of five award winners in the inaugural assistant coach class, joining Alex Gibbs, Jimmy Raye, Terry Robiskie and Ernie Zampese.

Green Bay was the last of Shurmur's five stops in the NFL as an assistant coach, a run that began in 1975 in Detroit. From 1975-93, Shurmur worked for the Lions, Patriots, Rams and Cardinals as either a defensive line coach or defensive coordinator.

He joined head coach Mike Holmgren's staff as Green Bay's defensive coordinator in 1994 and held the position for five seasons. During his tenure, the Packers appeared in three NFC title games and two Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl XXXI with the league's top scoring defense.

When Holmgren became both the head coach and general manager of the Seattle Seahawks following the 1998 season, Shurmur was set to go with him as his defensive coordinator. But in the spring of '99, he was diagnosed with esophageal and liver cancer and died that summer.

It's fitting that Shurmur is being honored in Canton this year, as it coincides with the induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame of one of the linchpins of his mid-'90s Packers defenses, safety LeRoy Butler.

Butler has spoken often of what Shurmur meant to his career, as the defensive play-caller used him in creative ways to make an impact all over the field. Under Shurmur, Butler became the first defender in NFL history to record 20 sacks and 20 interceptions.

All the awards of excellence recipients were honored in a ceremony in Canton earlier this summer. Their names will be featured in a permanent display inside the museum.

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