Marty Schottenheimer passed away Monday after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 77 years old. According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, he was peacefully surrounded by his family in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Schottenheimer left a lasting legacy not only on the Kansas City Chiefs, but the entire NFL. He was known for being a no-nonsense guy. Schottenheimer’s energetic and passionate style inspired his players immensely. Meanwhile, many notable head coaches went on to achieve greatness after previously learning under his watch. This includes names like Tony Dungy, Gunther Cunningham, Art Shell, Herm Edwards, Bill Cowher, Bruce Arians, Mike McCarthy and Al Saunders.
Additionally, Schottenheimer had family ties that were quite strong in the NFL. His son Brian Schottenheimer has coached a total of 24 years in the league. Most recently, Brian was the offensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks for three seasons. He will now move on to the Jacksonville Jaguars for 2021, under the position of passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Marty Schottenheimer also had a brother coach in the NFL. Kurt Schottenheimer worked alongside Marty in both Kansas City and Washington. Eventually, Kurt served as the Detroit Lions defensive coordinator for two seasons.
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A native of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, Marty Schottenheimer attended the University of Pittsburgh. A former linebacker for the Pitt Panthers, he was drafted by the Baltimore Colts in the fourth round of the 1965 NFL Draft. In the 1965 AFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills also selected him in the seventh round. Schottenheimer ultimately opted to join the Bills, where he was named an AFL All-Star in 1965. The team also won the AFL Championship that season. Schottenheimer played for the Bills for four seasons before joining the Boston Patriots for two years.
Marty Schottenheimer was a coaching assistant for ten total seasons prior to becoming a head coach. This included three years with the New York Giants (linebackers coach 1975-76 and defensive coordinator 1977), two years with the Detroit Lions (linebackers coach 1978-79), and five years with the Cleveland Browns (defensive coordinator 1980-84).
Schottenheimer’s head coaching career began in the middle of the 1984 campaign. After a 1-7 start, the Browns fired Sam Rutigliano and Marty assumed his role. In the next four years with Cleveland, he helped usher in a new era. The team drafted quarterback Bernie Kosar in 1985. The Browns finished first or second in the then AFC Central in all four full years under Schottenheimer. His regular season record with them ended at 44-27 in four and a half years. Cleveland also went 2-4 in the AFC Playoffs under Marty. They made it as far the AFC Championship Game in both 1986 and 1987, losing to the Denver Broncos in each year.
Kansas City Chiefs
Following his time in Cleveland, then Chiefs general manager Carl Peterson named Marty Schottenheimer head coach in 1989. He and the team drafted arguably the greatest Kansas City defender of all time in Derrick Thomas in his first season there. Other notable additions during his Chiefs tenure included both Joe Montana and Marcus Allen.
In all, Marty Schottenheimer compiled a record of 101-58-1 in the regular season with Kansas City. His teams also went 3-7 in the playoffs. The team finished first or second in the AFC West in nine of ten seasons with him at head coach. Three times, the Chiefs won the division and they made the playoffs seven of his ten years. Amazingly, Schottenheimer led Kansas City to the playoffs in six consecutive seasons (1990-95). Their 1991 playoff victory was the Chiefs first in the postseason since winning Super Bowl IV in 1969. The team also reached the AFC Championship Game in 1993 under Schottenheimer, losing to the Bills. Marty resigned as Chiefs head coach following the 1998 season. The team inducted him into the Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame in 2010.
Marty Schottenheimer would return to NFL coaching in 2001 with Washington. His team narrowly missed the postseason, going 8-8. The team controversially fired him after just one short year there.
San Diego Chargers
The then San Diego Chargers hired Schottenheimer in 2002. In five total years there, the team was up and down. But their two best seasons were truly remarkable. In 2004 and 2006, the Chargers won the AFC West. Schottenheimer was named Coach of the Year in 2004 and San Diego went 12-4. Then in 2006’s division winning season, the Chargers had the best record in the NFL at 14-2. That would end up being his last NFL head coaching season, after the team fell to the New England Patriots in the Divisional Round. The Chargers were a combined 47-33 in the regular season under Marty Schottenheimer. Their postseason mark was 0-2.
Impact On Chiefs Franchise
Chiefs CEO and Chairman Clark Hunt took time to talk about Marty Schottenheimer following his passing.
Hunt: “Our family and the entire Chiefs Kingdom mourn the loss of Marty Schottenheimer, and our prayers and heartfelt condolences are with his wonderful wife Pat and the entire Schottenheimer family today. Marty will rightfully be remembered as one of the greatest coaches in NFL history, but his legacy extends far beyond his winning percentage. He was a passionate leader who cared deeply for his players and coaches, and his influence on the game can still be seen today on a number of coaching staffs around the league.
When Marty arrived in 1989, he reinvigorated what was then a struggling franchise and quickly turned the Chiefs into a consistent winner. Marty’s teams made Chiefs football a proud part of Kansas City’s identity once again, and the team’s resurgence forged a powerful bond with a new generation of fans who created the legendary home-field advantage at Arrowhead Stadium.
Marty will always hold a special place in the history of the Chiefs, and he will be dearly missed by all of us who were blessed to call him a friend.”
Besides his passion and caring for players and coaches, Marty Schottenheimer attempted to lean on the running game and defense. He also finished as the seventh winningest coach in league history (regular season only). Schottenheimer was eighth in terms of regular season plus postseason wins.
Schottenheimer’s tactics and fingerprints are still visible across the league today. He was by far, one of the most successful head coaches of all time for both the Kansas City Chiefs and the NFL.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.