Marty Schottenheimer, who coached the Cleveland Browns during the 1980s — and to multiple playoff appearances and division titles — has battled Alzheimer’s disease for five years.
In a story written by Tony Grossi for ESPN Cleveland , the 73-year-old Schottenheimer announced he had the disease in a phone interview prior to this weekend’s 30th anniversary celebration of the 1986 Browns team. Schottenheimer and his wife Pat are attending the event this weekend
“He’s in the best of health, (but) sometimes he just doesn’t remember everything,” Pat told Grossi. “He functions extremely well, plays golf several times a week.”
Schottenheimer and general manager Ernie Accorsi built the Browns teams of the 1980s, which were some of the best in the AFC during the era. Fans and critics blasted Schottenheimer for his 2-4 postseason record, and the team’s last-second losses to the Broncos in the 1986 and 1987 AFC title games.
He’s the last Browns coach to post a winning record, going 46-31 with the team and winning three division titles and making the playoffs four years. No Browns coach since has been over .500, including Bill Bellichick, who led the New England Patriots to four Super Bowl wins.
After the Browns lost to the Houston Oilers in the 1988 Wild Card game, owner Art Modell demanded Schottenheimer change the coaching staff. Schottenheimer refused and quit.
Accorsi said not intervening in the dispute was one of the biggest regrets of his NFL career and a move Schottenheimer was the biggest mistake he made.
“Like I’ve said a number of times, it was the dumbest thing I did,” Schottenheimer told Grossi. “Of all the decisions I made in my life, it’s the one I regret the most.”
Schottenheimer coached the Kansas City Chiefs for 10 seasons from 1989 to 1998. The team was 101-58-1 and aquired quarterback Joe Montana from the San Francisco 49ers in 1993. He resigned in January 1999. He coached one season for the Washington Redskins in 2001, losing the first five games of the season then winning the next five. The team narrowly missed the playoffs going 8-8, but Schottenheimer was fired by owner Dan Snyder. Hue Jackson, the current Browns coach, was a member of Schottenheimer’s staff in Washington.
His last coaching stop was in San Diego, where the team rebounded from a 4-12 record in 2003 to go 12-4 the next season and win the AFC West. The Chargers won two division titles, but lost in two playoff games.
Overall Schottenheimer was 200-126-1 as a head coach and 5-13 in the playoffs. He’s sixth all time among head coaches in wins and one of six to have at least 200.