Stautner, NFL hall of famer, dies |

Stautner, NFL hall of famer, dies

Daily Staff Report
Ernie Stautner

Ernie Stautner, an Eagle-Vail resident who is in the pro football Hall of Fame, died early Thursday morning after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 80. Stautner was born April 20, 1925, in Germany to Joseph and Hedwig Streck Stautner. He and his family migrated to Albany, N.Y. when he was 3 years old. After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II he enrolled at Boston College where he was a 4-year starter on the football team and captured All-New England and All-Catholic honors as a two-way tackle. In the 1950 NFL draft he was picked by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second round. Ernie played his entire 14-year career with the Steelers and was elected to the Pro Bowl nine times. Despite the Steelers’ illustrious history, Stautner’s jersey – No. 70 – remains the only number ever retired by the organization. The Steelers never had a winning season during Stautner’s playing days.

In 1969, his first year of eligibility, Ernie was inducted into the football Hall of Fame. In 1973 he was inducted into the Boston College Varsity Club Athletic Hall of Fame. A highly-regarded coach and defensive coordinator with the Dallas Cowboys from 1966 to 1988, he played a major role in two of that team’s Super Bowl championships. During his coaching days with the Cowboys, Stautner found himself facing the Steelers in two Super Bowls. “He hated the Steelers then,” Jill said with another laugh. “When he wanted a Super Bowl ring he didn’t like them too much.” Even though the Cowboys lost the two Super Bowl meetings with the Steelers, Stautner won two rings while coaching with the Cowboys in 1971 and 1978. “They love him in Pittsburgh and Dallas,” Jill said.He also served on the coaching staffs of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins, and Denver Broncos was has head coach of the Dallas Texans of the Arena League and the NFL Europe World Champion Frankfurt Galaxy. Even with his disease, Stautner’s wife, Jill, said her husband enjoyed the Steelers’ 21-10 Super Bowl win on Feb. 5.

“Dan Rooney (Pittsburgh Steelers owner) called today and asked if Ernie got to see the game and I said ‘Yes, he enjoyed it very much.'” The Stautners have had a home in the Vail area since 1989. Jill said she and Ernie loved skiing the slopes around Vail.Stautner was preceded in death by his son, Joseph Robert Stautner, in 2001 and by his brother, Joseph Stautner. He is survived by his wife, Jill. Also surviving are his children, Teresa Stautner, Carol Stautner-Hinds, Greg Hinds, J. J. Stautner-Gora, Anthony Gora, Jordan Stautner and Emily Stautner; his sister, Hedwig Hoffman; and his grandchildren Zachary, Danielle, Alex, Jodie, Joseph and Rachel. A visitation will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday at Mulkey-Mason Funeral Home in Lewisville, Texas, which can be reached at (972)436-4581. Funeral Mass will be held at 1 p.m., Monday at St. Phillip the Apostle Catholic Church in Lewisville.

Private graveside service will be held at Sacred Heart Cemetery in Rowlette. Glenwood Springs correspondent Dale Shrull contributed to this report. Vail, Colorado

Support Local Journalism