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Marty Schottenheimer deserves to be in the Hall of Fame

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Former Browns coach continues to be ignored despite a worthy résumé.

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The NFL will announce the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2019 on Saturday night during the league’s annual NFL Honors show.

There are 15 finalists, including two former head coaches in Tom Flores and Don Coryell:

One name that is conspicuously absent is that of former head coach Marty Schottenheimer, who coached four different teams in the NFL over 21 years, including the Cleveland Browns for 4.5 years.

While Flores, who won two Super Bowls with the Los Angeles Raiders, and Coryell, who is best known for developing the “Air Coryell” offense in the 1970s with the St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Chargers, are worthy candidates, that fact that Schottenheimer has never even been a finalist is baffling.

Steve Doerschuk at The Canton Repository laid out a solid argument for Schottenheimer earlier this week with a few key comparisons:

In terms of building playoff teams, Schottenheimer was a dynamo. His 13 trips to the playoffs are two more than Flores’ and Coryell’s combined.

The combined regular-season records of Coryell and Flores were 208-170-1, for a winning percentage of .551.

Schottenheimer’s regular-season record was 200-126-1, for a winning percentage of .613. The only head coaches with more regular-season wins are Don Shula, George Halas, Bill Belichick, Tom Landry and Curly Lambeau. Notables with winning regular-season win percentages well below Schottenheimer’s include Bill Parcells (172-130-1, .569), Chuck Noll (193-148-1, .566), Marv Levy (143-112, .561) and Hank Stram (131-97, .574).

Schottenheimer took over the Browns midway through the 1984 season after the firing of head coach Sam Rutigliano and led the team to its last period of sustained success.

Under Schottenheimer, the Browns won division titles in 1985, 1986 and 1987, and claimed a wild card spot in 1988. Even though he last coached a Browns game 31 years ago, Schottenheimer still ranks:

  • fourth in franchise history with 44 wins
  • third in winning percentage at .620
  • third in most playoff appearances with six

Those 44 wins may not sound like much, but Schottenheimer did that in just 71 games with the Browns. When you consider that the combination of Hue Jackson, Rob Chudzinski, Pat Shurmur, Eric Mangini, Chris Palmer and Mike Pettine coached the Browns for a combined 184 games and only collected 41 wins, you realize the Browns had something special with Schottenheimer.

After the Browns, Schottenheimer coached the Kansas City Chiefs for 10 seasons, making the playoffs seven times, and finishing with a winning percentage of .634, which is second best in Chiefs’ franchise history.

His .588 winning percentage in five seasons as head coach of the San Diego Chargers is third best in franchise history.

The biggest mark against Schottenheimer is that he failed to a win a title. Browns fans do not need to be reminded about how things worked out for his four playoff teams in Cleveland. Overall, Schottenheimer’s teams only won five playoff games in 18 appearances.

Even so, when you look at his overall body of work compared some of the other head coaches, it is becomes clear that Schottenheimer deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame.