The Browns family lost a real icon on Tuesday, as former NFL head coach and Browns legend Marty Schottenheimer passed away.
There are a few names that really jump out at you as coaching legends in Cleveland. There’s obviously Paul Brown, duh, the team is named after him. Then there’s Sam Rutigliano, of course, there’s Bill Belichick. There’s former NFL Champion winning coach, Blanton Collier as well, and a case could be made for the likes of Romeo Crennel, Butch Davis, or Kevin Stefanski but as outliers. Yet, one of the greatest coaches ever, and arguably the second or third best coach the franchise has ever had was Marty Schottenheimer.
It was reported by ESPN and other outlets that Schottenheimer passed away on Tuesday, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Schottenheimer made big moves across the NFL as a head coach, with stops in San Diego and a legacy forged through success in Kansas City, but we Browns fans got to know him and love him first.
He spent nine seasons with the Browns as a coach, five as a head coach, and the four previous seasons as the defensive coordinator. He brought “Marty Ball” to the masses, a run-controlled offense that was in-part powered by a great defense. Signs of which are popping up in Kevin Stefanski’s modern day offensive scheme.
Marty Ball was so successful it turned Kevin Mack and Earnest Byner into duel 1,000-yard rushers. All while seeing Bernie Kozar, the beloved local kid at quarterback, playing his best football ever.
In every full year as the Browns head coach, he led Cleveland to the playoffs and twice made it to the AFC Championship game. Despite getting the most out of a bunch of broken-down offensive pieces, and turning Clay Matthews Jr into a Hall of Fame-caliber player, Browns owner Art Modell fired Schottenheimer after the 1988 season, ending the team’s most sustained period of success since Brown and Collier’s tenure with the team from the ’40s through the ’60s. All because Modell wanted an “offensive guy” to help keep up with the Oilers.
He’d be replaced by Bud Carson, who’d last a year-and-a-half in Cleveland before the Browns signed Belichick, who ran out the clock with Cleveland before they were moved to Baltimore.
Schottenheimer went on to succeed in Kansas City all the while, and his success made fans hate Modell even more. Schottenheimer left an indelible mark on the Browns organization with his style of play, which defined not just a city or a region, but an entire division. He will not be soon forgotten, but he is already dearly missed.
Thank you, Coach Schottenheimer.