Former Florida Gators wide receivers coach Mike Heimerdinger passed away Friday evening after losing a year-long battle with cancer. He was 58.
“It is with a heavy heart, but a trust in God, that we say goodbye to our beloved Dinger who lost his courageous battle with cancer,” his wife Kathie Heimerdinger said in a statement on Saturday. “Mike approached cancer with the same vigor and tenacity that he approached any football game — to win. Even in the final minutes he never gave up — that was our Dinger.”
A college roommate of Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan, Heimerdinger was a graduate assistant at Florida in 1980 and returned to coach wide receivers from 1983-87, spending his first year under Shanahan (the offensive coordinator at the time) and his tenure under head coaches Charley Pell and Galen Hall.
He won consecutive Southeastern Conference Championships with the Gators in 1984-85 and coached at three other universities before joining Shanahan as the wide receivers coach for the Denver Broncos from 1995-99.
Heimerdinger then spent four years as the Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator (2000-04) and one in the same position with the New York Jets before serving as the assistant head coach back with Denver from 2006-07. He returned to Tennessee as offensive coordinator from 2008-10 and remained on the sideline last season even after being diagnosed with and while undergoing treatment for cancer.
“It was a tough deal and Dinger was a tough guy to the end, which is no surprise to those who knew what type of competitor he was,” his former head coach with the Titans, Jeff Fisher, said in an official release. “He was a man’s man. No matter how weak he looked, how weak he sounded, he never had a complaint and fought this cancer as you would only expect him to fight it.”
OGGOA sends our deepest condolences to the Heimerdinger family.