Marty Schottenheimer dies at 77

Kansas City Chiefs
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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.

87 responses to “Marty Schottenheimer dies at 77

  1. RIP Coach. An underrated coach who won at 3 places, but never got to the elusive Superbowl. The Chargers were his best shot. They had some great teams under him.

  2. Really liked his personality & the way he carried himself on & off the football stage…. stinks he didn’t have the same success in the post season as he did in the regular season as he seemed very deserving of post season success…..
    RIP coach, you are in a better place now!!!!

  3. I’m sure he’s now seen the real “gleam”. He’s a big part of the reason I’m a Chiefs fan. “Marty Ball” was hard to watch on the offensive side, but defensively, “Marty Ball” was awesome! RIP Coach!

  4. RIP, best coach Chargers ever had and they treated him with disrespect. He should be in the Hall of Fame.

  5. I was soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo pissed when Snyder fired him. He turned that team around in a very big way but wouldn’t bow to Snyder’s personnel whims.

  6. As a Raiders fan i wasn’t a fan of Marty in the 90’s as the Chiefs beat the Raiders most of the time.

    But what a coach, was always successful everywhere he went and reading his bio above I totally forgot that he was fired after leading the Chargers to a 14-2 record, crazy

    One of the great coaches of my lifetime. RIP

  7. He was a great coach. He had some bad luck facing Elway in preventing him from playing in any Super Bowls, but other than that, his teams just came up short. His last record after building that team in San Diego speaks for itself.

  8. RIP Marty, The San Diego Chargers were never the same when they let you go after going 14 – 2. Marty belongs in the HOF. He was a great coach with some bad luck in the playoffs

  9. His 1987 Browns “the fumble” is the only time I ever painted my face for a Browns game. Marty was class extraordinaire and a motivator. He’s definitely seeing the gleam now. God bless.

  10. RIP Coach, real class act. Didn’t get KC where you wanted to but had an AMAZING run & record while you were here!

  11. Marty was central casting of a 90’s football coach. Full of piss and vinegar and always had a smashmouth team. He will be missed!

  12. Sending prayers and condolences to the family. Not making it to a Super Bowl should not detract from the fact he was a great coach.

  13. RIP… One of the most unappreciated coaches in recent memory. A great coach who was often unfairly remembered because of his shortcomings in the playoffs… He should be in Canton.

  14. Terrific coach. Reminded me of Chuck Knox. Built a winner wherever he went but could never quite get over that final hurdle to the SB. RIP coach.

  15. RIP Marty.

    I truly believe he would have gotten a Super Bowl in San Diego if they kept him on.

  16. 22 seasons as a Head coach and only two losing seasons. That is very impressive. He didn’t do as well in the playoffs though did take the Browns to 2 AFC title games and the Chiefs to 1 AFC title game. He was one of the most respected coaches in the NFL. RIP Marty.

  17. Condolences to his family

    Honestly as a nfl fan, coach schottenheimer deserved a superbowl appearance at minimum as a coach.

    He led some good KC chiefs teams and SD chargers team later in his career. He honestly had some REAL bad luck as a coach. His teams always competed.

    RIP and GB to him and his family

  18. We Love Marty in Kansas City. He was the CHiefs coach when I became a fan. We will miss you Marty. Find that Gleam in Heaven sir. God Bless RIP.

  19. @censorship

    Much respect.

    Those old Raider KC games were classic. Both teams eliminating each other from playoff contention with walk off kick offs for like 3yrs straight were epic.

  20. Honestly just as a human being. If your downvoting people paying their respect to a man who lost his life. Do the works a favor and GO AWAY!!! Wtf does that???

  21. zultimatefan…Chargers were not really his best shot. He went to two AFC title games with the Browns and one with the Chiefs. He made the playoffs 4 times with Browns, 7 times with Chiefs and 2 times with the Chargers. He did have his best record with the Chargers at 14-2 but went 13-3 twice with the Chiefs. Very underrated coach that just couldn’t seem to do anything in the playoffs.

  22. Good coach, great man. Everybody liked him.

    I take it the Chargers won’t be sending condolences after firing him even though he went 14-2. SMH.

  23. Coach of the fumble for Cleveland in AFCG

    Coach of KC when peyton manning went with absurd stats completed like 36 out 38 passes and neither team punted. Colts won on walk off FG

    The SD charger teams that ran into tom Brady

    Unbelievable!!! Felt bad for him. Very underrated coach

  24. What a shame. Condolences to his family.

    Alzheimer’s and cancer, two insidious killers.

  25. Rest in Peace coach. Prayers to your family and friends, thank you for what you gave us.

  26. one of my fave coaches growing up, his teams were always fun to watch and tough as hell, never understood why he didn’t coach again after san diego RIP coach.

    – giants fan

  27. RIP Marty. Such a legendary head coach and when we wrote him off (when the Chargers drafted Rivera), he proved why he’s a great coach and helped turn around the Chargers

  28. R.I.P. Coach, you were one of the best, sorry Napoleon Snyder didn’t give you a fair chance. Always respected Marty no matter who he was coaching, you knew his team was going to give you its all.

  29. RIP Marty. What a great coach he was. The Bronco losses were tough pills to swallow. Does not change the fact of how tough his teams played, and with tremendous effort.

  30. RIP coach. Done wrong by the Chargers… that team was stacked. Rivers, Tomlinson, Gates, VJax, Sproles, Michael Turner, Merriman, Cromartie, Jammer….

  31. RIP Schotty! You brought hope to San Diego when you were here. Too bad the owners are inept and picked the GM over you. You were a great coach and your players thank you for that.

  32. I remember that year he took the chargers to 14-2. That was the only time in my life I ever cheered on a division rival hoping they’d win it all, because if there was anyone who deserved to it was Marty. The sport is grieving for you today, rest in peace Coach.

  33. He was beloved here in Cleveland but the media started ripping him apart and the team then proceeded to fall off a cliff. Players bled out for him. RIP MARTY.

  34. Marty revived football in KC, he was a great leader and a gentleman. His family deserves our love and respect. Thanks to Tony Romo for mentioning the “gleam” in the KC-BUF telecast, brought a smile to my face.

  35. Stupid Chargers. Firing a coach who just went 14-2. They’ve never reached that level since. What a bumbling legacy the owners and managers of that team have.

    RIP Coach Schottenheimer. You hold a significant place in NFL history.

  36. Marty was great coach but I didn’t realize he was namaths wing man. Rest in Peace Schotty!

  37. Just think about this for a second…his last year coaching in the NFL was 2006 with San Diego and his record was 14-2.

    14-2!!!! Let that sink in. Amazing coach that always got the most out of his players.

    Side note: the 8-8 record with Washington might be just as impressive! 🙂


  38. I remember the Nigerian Nightmare. Man those were great times & great personalities.

  39. Washington started out 0-5, and finished the season 8-3 with high hopes for the next year. Snyder wanted Spurrier, the shiny new toy, and let Marty go after one season. Big mistake.
    And as far as A.J. Smith firing Marty after going 14-2? What more could you ask for? That ain’t winning the division at 7-9, they went 14-2!!!

  40. RIP Marty. One of the best all time coaches, and an even better human being. I know that sounds like a cliche, but it’s not. Marty was a real good guy.

  41. Schottenheimer was without question an excellent regular season HC who could transform losing teams into winners. However like Chuck Knox (and in contrast to Bill Parcells) he had problems winning in the postseason and never reached the Super Bowl. Awhile ago I saw the profile of Marty on ‘A Football Life’ and he seemed like a good person. I’m not sure however what the story is behind why he had such an intense hatred of the Raiders since prior to coaching the Chiefs he had never played nor coached for one of the Raiders rivals.

  42. One of the greatest coaches to ever live! Now maybe the football gods will stop punishing the Chargers and Redskins!

  43. Did anyone catch the Washington Post obit that stated his teams wilted in the playoff in the frigging HEADLINE?

  44. Bucaneers, Brady, and Fournette proved that “Marty Ball” will always be able to win championships.

  45. If Marty’s family would happen to read the comment section on here you should know that praise for Marty on the KC sports talk shows is overwhelming and he obviously deserves every bit of it.

  46. Slim Shady, brain dead like Jim Brady
    I’m an M 80, you lil like that Kim lady
    I’m buzzin’, dirty dozen naughty rotten rhymer
    Cursin’ at you players worse than Marty Schottenheimer!

    Immortal. Like the man’s contributions to the game. RIP and condolences

  47. Bill Kramer says:
    February 9, 2021 at 3:48 pm

    One of the greatest coaches to ever live! Now maybe the football gods will stop punishing the Chargers and Redskins!


    Why would they? Both teams have made nearly continuous bad decisions ever since. They’ve got loads of football-god wrath to pay off yet.

  48. If you get a chance, check out the article today from the Washington Post….what a group of dirt bags…..

  49. One of my favorite Marty ball memories was that every time the team was around the mid field stripe, he would run the ball across it. He felt it was a power statement entering the opponent side with a run up the middle. I watched it a zillion times with him and he was right. RIP to a great man who gave fans in several cities a lifetime of happy memories. If not for 1 fateful drive by Elway, dammit.

  50. I remember Marty as a Buffalo Bill on the 1965 AFL championship team. That’s why I always felt a connection to Marty.
    I recall after his rookie season that he wasn’t very good either, but felt proud that he became a quality NFL head coach.
    Was surprised that he never made it back to Buffalo to coach.

  51. Who are the 44 guys who hit thumbs down to the second comment? Prolly steeler fans, but either way, they’re jerks.

  52. HOF? Close I think. If they were going to put him in, though, then I think they should have put him in while he was alive.

  53. “There’s a Gleam men, there’s a Gleam.” Thank you coach for entertaining all of us for so long.


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