Former NFL quarterback Turk Schonert died Thursday at age 62, the Bengals confirmed.
According to a team statement, Schonert died of a heart attack near his South Carolina home.
Turk Schonert, the QB who authored one of the most important comebacks in #Bengals history, died suddenly Thursday near his South Carolina home.
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) January 18, 2019
Drafted out of Stanford in the ninth round by the Bears in 1980, Schonert never played for Chicago. Cincinnati picked him up the next season as a backup for Ken Anderson as the Bengals went on to make the Super Bowl. The greatest game of Schonert’s career came in his first NFL appearance. After the Bengals fell behind the Seahawks 21-0 in the season opener, Anderson was benched, and Schonert came in and led Cincy to a 27-21 comeback victory.
Former Bengals wide receiver Cris Collinsworth, now an analyst with NBC, remembered on Friday the significance of that game.
“If Turk doesn’t do what he did that day, maybe we go to the Super Bowl. It’s not as likely,” Collinsworth said (via Bengals.com). “Then, do we go to two Super Bowls? Who knows? That’s how historically significant that game is.”
Schonert spent eight of his nine NFL seasons in Cincinnati, where he later backed up Bengals quarterback Boomer Esiason. He spent the 1986 season with the Falcons, where he made five of his 12 career starts.
Schonert finished his playing career with 3,788 yards passing, 11 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. After retiring, he spent 13 seasons as a quarterbacks coach with several NFL teams, including the Bills, where he was also offensive coordinator for one season. He had spent the past five years as receivers coach with the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes.
Beyond the numbers, however, Schonert made an impression on his teammates with his fun-loving yet competitive personality.
“The underlying part of him was Turk’s undying confidence,” Collinsworth told Bengals.com. “Whether it was on the golf course, or in a game, or just life in general, he thought he was going to win. He thought he was going to make the next play. He thought that he was going make the next putt. He just had this contagious confidence to him. He made us all feel that way a little bit and gave us all that sort of a lift.”
Lost one of my best friends of all time, Bengals QB Turk Schonert, on the left. If fun had a King, he would wear the Crown. So have a fun day today in honor of my pal Turk. pic.twitter.com/DyRifQXrv3
— Cris Collinsworth (@CollinsworthPFF) January 18, 2019