CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Marty Schottenheimer, who won 200 regular-season games with four NFL teams thanks to his “Martyball” brand of smash-mouth football but regularly fell short in the playoffs, has died. He was 77.
Schottenheimer died Monday night at a hospice in Charlotte, North Carolina, his family said through Bob Moore, former Kansas City Chiefs publicist. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2014. He was moved to a hospice on Jan. 30.
Schottenheimer was the eighth-winningest coach in NFL history. He went 200-126-1 in 21 seasons with the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins and San Diego Chargers.
His success was rooted in “Martyball,” a conservative approach that featured a strong running game and tough defense. He hated the then-Oakland Raiders and loved the mantra, “One play at a time,” which he’d holler at his players in the pre-kickoff huddle.
Winning in the regular season was never a problem. Schottenheimer’s teams won 10 or more games 11 times, including a glistening 14-2 record with the Chargers in 2006 that earned them the AFC’s No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
It’s what happened in January that haunted Schottenheimer, who was just 5-13 in the postseason.
His playoff demons followed him to the end of his career.
In his final game, on Jan. 14, 2007, Schottenheimer’s Chargers, featuring NFL MVP LaDainian Tomlinson and a cast of Pro Bowlers, imploded with mind-numbing mistakes and lost a home divisional round playoff game to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, 24-21.
A month later, owner Dean Spanos stunned the NFL when he fired Schottenheimer, mostly because of a personality clash between the coach and strong-willed general manager A.J. Smith.
Schottenheimer was 44-27 with the Cleveland Browns from 1984-88, 101-58-1 with Kansas City from 1989-98; 8-8 with Washington in 2001 and 47-33 with San Diego from 2002-06.