Marty Schottenheimer, who twice led the Cleveland Browns to the brink of the Super Bowl as a head coach, passed away on Monday at the age of 77.
The cause was from complications associated with Alzheimer’s disease, which Schottenheimer had been battling since 2014, according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.
Legendary NFL coach Marty Schottenheimer, (77), peacefully passed away with family at his— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) February 9, 2021
side on Monday, February 8, 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Schottenheimer had been
battling Alzheimer’s since 2014.
Schottenheimer was named head coach of the Browns midway through the 1984 season, and led the Browns to AFC Central Division titles in 1985, 1986 and 1987, and earned a fourth playoff appearance in 1988 as a Wild Card.
With quarterback Bernie Kosar at the controls of a talented offense, the Browns advanced to the AFC Championship Game in 1986 and 1987, only to come up short both times against the Denver Broncos.
Through it all, Cleveland Municipal Stadium rocked at home games in a way that the Browns have not seen since.
"There's a gleam, men."— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) February 9, 2021
Marty's inspirational words hit differently today. Rest in Peace Coach Schottenheimer. pic.twitter.com/a2cPlpmtFS
Schottenheimer went 44-27 with the Browns, the third-best winning percentage (.620) in franchise history, and his 44 victories have him fourth on the team’s all-time list behind Paul Brown, Blanton Collier and Sam Rutigliano.
The Browns issued a statement via the team’s website:
“The Cleveland Browns are saddened to learn of the passing of Marty Schottenheimer. As a head coach, he led the organization to four playoff appearances and three divisional titles, but it was his tough, hard-nosed, never give up the fight attitude the team embodied that endeared him to Browns fans and often led to thrilling victories. His impact on the game of football was not only felt in Northeast Ohio but across the entire NFL. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Pat, and his entire family.”
Schottenheimer was not retained following the 1988 season after getting into a dispute with then-owner Art Modell and moved onto the Kansas City Chiefs, where he won 101 games over 10 seasons. Schottenheimer also coached Washington for one season (2001) before closing out his NFL coaching career with a five-year run with the San Diego Chargers, where he went 14-2 in his final season in charge.
Marty, you always said, "There's a gleam, men!" It's true, and that gleam is, and always was, YOU. Rest in peace Coach, love you. pic.twitter.com/PONiVZxm8f— Bill Cowher (@CowherCBS) February 9, 2021
During his coaching career, Schottenheimer’s teams won eight division titles and posted just two losing seasons. His career regular-season record of 200-126-1 ranks eighth all-time in victories, ahead of such notable coaches as Chuck Noll, Bill Parcells, Bud Grant, Joe Gibbs and Bill Cowher.
Ozzie Newsome, a Hall of Fame tight end with the Browns, remembered Schottenheimer in a prepared statement:
“Early in my career, Marty was our defensive coordinator and had a challenging job trying to handle the likes of [cornerbacks] Hanford Dixon and Frank Minnifield, but did it with grit and grace. When he became our head coach, he preached toughness and discipline on both sides of the ball. Though he was an old-school, tough coach, he was also adaptable, as he hired Lindy Infante to run our offense, which helped us to become a complete team.
“Marty got us to the brink of the Super Bowl, and unfortunately we as players didn’t deliver, which is something that we all regret because of our affection for him.”
Rest in peace, Coach Schottenheimer.