Marty Schottenheimer, who led NFL teams for 21 seasons and earned 200 regular season wins, has died at the age of 77.
Schottenheimer was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014 and had been ailing for the last several years of his life.
As head coach in Cleveland, Kansas City, Washington and San Diego, Schottenheimer had just two losing seasons in his 21 years as a head coach and finished with a regular season record of 200-126-1. He was less successful in the playoffs, going 5-13 in the postseason and never reaching the Super Bowl.
Schottenheimer was known for his old-school coaching mentality, physical practices, and emphasizing a sound running game and a good defense. His style was sometimes called Martyball.
Schottenheimer grew up in Pennsylvania and played his college ball at the University of Pittsburgh. He was selected in both the NFL draft and AFL draft in 1965 and ended up playing six seasons in the AFL, first for the Bills and then for the Patriots. As a rookie he was chosen to the AFL All-Star Team. After a retirement that lasted from 1971 to 1973, Schottenheimer first got into coaching as an assistant with the Portland Storm of the World Football League in 1974.
After stints as an assistant with the Giants, Lions and Browns, Schottenheimer became interim head coach of the Browns during the 1984 season. In all four of his full seasons as the Browns’ head coach Cleveland made the playoffs, but the failure to reach the Super Bowl (thanks in part to back-to-back losses to John Elway’s Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game) led to his firing after the 1988 season.
The Chiefs hired Schottenheimer in 1989 and he again turned the team around, lasting 10 seasons in Kansas City, but the Chiefs again couldn’t get over the hump and topped out at the AFC Championship Game. In 2001 Schottenheimer spent one year in Washington but clashed with owner Dan Snyder and left after one 8-8 season. The next year Schottenheimer took over the Chargers and lasted five seasons in San Diego. In his final season he went 14-2, but a loss to the Patriots in the first game of the 2006 playoffs got him fired for the final time.
Several men who would become successful NFL head coaches, including Bruce Arians, Bill Cowher, Tony Dungy, Mike McCarthy and Herm Edwards, coached under Schottenheimer.
His survivors include his wife of 54 years, Pat, two children including longtime coach Brian Schottenheimer, and other relatives including brother and former NFL coach Kurt Schottenheimer.