Summer 2024

Chiefs D-coordinator, 4-time Super Bowl champ Steve Spagnuolo sets his foundation on Christ

Fresh off a second consecutive Super Bowl title and third in five seasons, the Kansas City Chiefs have experts speculating whether they could wind up as the greatest dynasty the NFL has ever seen. Much of the praise has been directed toward head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and rightfully so.

But those inside the Chiefs’ locker room know just how important their defense, led by defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, was to their latest triumph, 25-22 in overtime, against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII.

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“Defensively, our guys came out and played their hearts out, like they’ve done all year,” Reid said in his postgame press conference. “Kept us in the game.”

Spagnuolo’s defense surrendered a paltry 17.3 points per game in the regular season, good for second fewest in the NFL. It was even better in the playoffs despite being the youngest defense in the league, allowing only 15.8 points per game during Kansas City’s four-game run to the title. The 49ers’ 22 points in the Super Bowl was far below their regular-season average of 28.9 points per game.

It is widely believed that the 2023-24 Chiefs defense was the best Mahomes has had in his seven-year career, and the stats back it up. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Spagnuolo’s Kansas City tenure has coincided with the team’s three Super Bowl wins in the last five years. Spagnuolo’s leadership has certainly had a stabilizing effect in the locker room.

Spagnuolo’s long coaching career dates back to 1981, seeing him make numerous stops along the way in both college football and the NFL, and he even coached in Spain and Germany for a time. Most notably, he worked with the New York Giants’ defense from 2007–08 and 2015–17, and was the St. Louis Rams’ head coach from 2009-11. He’s the only coordinator to win a Super Bowl with multiple franchises (Kansas City and the Giants), and he’s now the only coordinator with four Super Bowl wins to his name.

Yet despite terrorizing offenses everywhere he’s been, the man affectionately known as “Spags” is well-respected in the Chiefs’ organization and around the league. In fact, after Kansas City’s 17-10 victory against the No. 1-seeded Baltimore Ravens in this year’s AFC championship game, many Chiefs players were seen celebrating in T-shirts that read, “In Spags We Trust.”

And while the entire Kansas City Chiefs organization trusts in Spagnuolo to lead the defense to Super Bowl after Super Bowl, Spagnuolo himself trusts ultimately in the only One who’s given him life itself.

“I’m not so sure in the first Super Bowl (with the Giants) I gave the glory to God, where it should be and is deserved,” Spagnuolo told Sports Spectrum before last season’s Super Bowl. “Now I try and hope to do that all the time, because without Him I wouldn’t be where I am. We wouldn’t do the things we do. I wouldn’t have the wife I have. I could go on and on about the blessings I have. I’m certainly indebted to the Lord Almighty.”

Spagnuolo attended church with his family during his small-town Massachusetts upbringing. The foundation of faith God formed in him when he was a child is still with the 64-year-old today. He says he tries to read the Bible every morning and is strengthened by its truths. He’s very active in the coaches’ Bible studies held by Chiefs chaplain Marcellus Casey, and he seeks to lead in the coaches’ room as a believer in Christ, not just as a coaching legend.

“I’m blessed beyond reason,” Spagnuolo told Sports Spectrum last year. “He’s been so merciful to me. And I just think knowing that and feeling that is important to me with all the young coaches we have around the guys in the building, [so] I share that with them.”

The defensive mastermind was asked about his faith in the lead-up to this season’s Super Bowl as well.

“My wife and I are very grounded Christians,” Spagnuolo told God Behind Bars. “She’s the best example in my life of how to lead a Christian life. So, we try to make that the foundation of everything we do and what we’re involved in. And quite frankly, you couldn’t get through the ups and downs of NFL football during the season if you didn’t have that.”

He’s certainly been on an “up” in his time in Kansas City, and he knows all of it is a gift from God.

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