Marty Schottenheimer, the seventh-winningest coach in NFL history at (200-126-1), has died in Charlotte, N.C. at age 77
Marty Schottenheimer, seventh-winningest coach in NFL history, dies at 77
In 2014, Schottenheimer was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. On Jan. 30, he was placed in a hospice facility near his home in Charlotte, North Carolina. When he passed, he was surrounded by his family.
Over 20 full seasons coaching in Cleveland, Kansas City, Washington and San Diego, his clubs won eight division titles and finished second on eight occasions, third on two, and fourth twice. He had just two losing seasons, posting a 200-126-1 regular-season record that ranks seventh all-time in victories. And yet that success was tempered by a 5-13 mark in the playoffs. Thrice his clubs lost in the AFC Championship Game, making him the only coach in the modern era with 200 or more wins to never reach a league championship…
“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,” Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said in a statement Tuesday. “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.”
He believed the safest and truest road to success was with a strong running game, an attacking defense and a veteran quarterback who could limit turnovers. That style of play came to be known as Martyball, and while it was unpopular with some because it lacked pizazz and sizzle, Schottenheimer refused to stray far from it, even as rules changes created more opportunities for passing games to flourish. He would simply point to the results.
The San Diego Chargers had not had a winning campaign in eight consecutive years when they opened the 2004 NFL season in Houston. Tension lined the walls of the training facility because everyone seemed to be on notice, from second-year general manager A.J. Smith, who oversaw a 4-12 finish in his first year, to quarterback Drew Brees, who was so underwhelming the previous season the front office sought to bring in his replacement via a draft-day trade for rookie Philip Rivers.
And yet no one seemed to be under greater pressure than Marty Schottenheimer, who was hired in 2002 to turn around the struggling franchise. Schottenheimer was considered as close to a guarantee as there could be, having had only one losing season in his first 14 years as a head coach. But an 8-8 finish, followed by a 4-12 disaster had people wondering if ownership had made a mistake. The question grew louder after that first game in Houston when Schottenheimer refused to change quarterbacks after the offense struggled against the third-year Texans, who had won just nine games total in their two seasons since entering the league as an expansion team.
“If I’m going to (mess) it up,” Schottenheimer said of sticking with Brees, whom he had benched three previous times “I’m going to (mess) it up my way.”
That moment, perhaps more than any other, personifies the essence of the man who died of complications associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Schottenheimer, 77, was a proud and forceful figure. He was known as much for his cliche-like mantras — the most popular was “one play at a time” — as he was for his emotional press conferences, where his voice would break and tears would well in the corners of his eyes.
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