Marty Schottenheimer, one of just eight head coaches in NFL history to win at least 200 games, died Monday in hospice care at the age of 77 in Charlotte, NC after battling Alzheimer’s.
He was diagnosed with the disease in 2014 and was moved to hospice care on Jan. 30.
Schottenheimer spent 21 seasons as an NFL head coach, working with the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Football Team, and San Diego Chargers from 1984-2006. In 18 of those 21 seasons, he had a record of .500 or better and made the postseason 13 times.
With a 200-136 regular-season record, his 74 games over .500 ranks eighth in NFL history.
He made three AFC Championship Games — twice with the Browns in 1986 and 1987 and once with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1993 — but never appeared in a Super Bowl.
“When Marty arrived in 1989, he reinvigorated what was then a struggling franchise and quickly turned the Chiefs into a consistent winner,” Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said in a statement. “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.”
One of Schottenheimer’s strongest teams came in San Diego, though, as the Chargers went 14-2 in 2006 behind Philip Rivers and Hall-of-Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson. They were bounced in the AFC Divisional Round by the New England Patriots, prompting the Chargers to dismiss Schottenheimer from his last-ever head-coaching gig.
“I never went into a game with Marty as a coach feeling like I wasn’t fully prepared to win,” Tomlinson said of Schottenheimer (h/t ESPN). “He really wanted you to understand every detail of the game plan. I considered him a true All-American man. He was a great father figure, and I was fortunate that my wife and I got to know him and [his wife] Pat beyond the typical player and coach relationship. He was a well-rounded human being. He cared more about the man than the athlete. I will remember him more for the life lessons that he taught me.”
After spending six seasons as an NFL linebacker with the Buffalo Bills and Patriots from 1965-1970, Schottenheimer rose up the NFL ranks to first become the New York Giants’ defensive coordinator in 1977. He resurfaced with the Browns in 1980 at the same position before taking over as head coach four years later.
He is survived by his wife, Pat, two children, Kristin and Brian, and four grandchildren.