Longtime NFL coach, Canonsburg native and Pitt alum Marty Schottenheimer died on Monday at the age of 77, according to his family.
Schottenheimer was most well known as the defensive coordinator and head coach of the Cleveland Browns and head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. He also coached the Washington Redskins and San Diego Chargers for a 200-126-1 overall record, the most wins of any coach not enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Born in Canonsburg, Schottenheimer graduated from Fort Cherry High School in nearby McDonald, Pa. He matriculated to the University of Pittsburgh, where he was a linebacker and center from 1961-64, and was a three-time letterman. The 1963 team went 9-1, Pitt’s best record in over a 30-year span. He was a second-team All-American linebacker selection as a senior in 1964.
“What I remember most about Marty was that studious look he had with those glasses,” former Pitt sports information director Beano Cook said in Schottenheimer’s 2012 autobiography Martyball. “He looked more like a college professor than a linebacker. And he was so well spoken and literate. But let me tell you, he was a damn good football player, too. Don’t let him or anyone else kid you. I sent out letters to every sportswriter in the country trying to get him first team All-American his senior year. He deserved it. He was that good. He wound up second team All-American but he should have been first team.”
Schottenheimer was selected in the fourth round of the 1965 NDL Draft by the Baltimore Colts, but instead signed with the Buffalo Bills of the AFL, who had selected him in the seventh round.
He made the AFL All-Star team as a rookie in 1965 as the Bills went on to win an AFLChampionship. Schottenheimer spent four seasons in Buffalo, and with the Boston Patriots. After the AFL-NFL merger, he was traded to his hometown Pittsburgh Steelers and then again to the Indianapolis Colts, but never played for either team.
Schottenheimer began his lengthy coaching career as a player-coach for the Portland Storm of the World Football League in 1974. After a pre-season shoulder injury prevented him from playing, he stayed on as a full-time coach in the fledgling league. The next season, Bill Arsnparger hired him onto the New York Giants staff, where he was linebackers coach for two seasons and defensive coordinator for one season.
After two seasons in Detroit as the Lions’ linebackers coach, Schottenheimer started his nine-year run in Cleveland. He started with the Browns in 1980 as defensive coordinator under Sam Rutigliano, helping the Kardiac Kids to a division title and a pair of playoff berths as a coordinator.
Schottenheimer took over for the fired Rutigliano mid-season in 1984. In his first four full seasons as Browns head coach, Cleveland won the AFC Central Division three times and qualified for the postseason four times, one of only two-such stretches in Browns history. In 1986, the Schottenheimer led the Browns to their first postseason victory in 17 years. But a pair of losses to the Denver Broncos in the 1986 and 1987 AFC Championship Games soured owner Art Modell on Schottenheimer, and he left the team by mutual separation.
It was in Cleveland that Schottenheimer first led fellow Pittsburgh-area native Bill Cowher, who spent three seasons as a linebacker for Schottenheimer from 1980-1982 and then returned to coach for him as special teams coach and defensive coordinator from 1985-88.
He also helped inspire future Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi, who grew up a Browns fan in Northeast Ohio.
“Coach Schottenheimer made it fun to be a Browns fan again in the 1980s,” Narduzzi said in a press release. “He really revitalized that team and made them an annual Super Bowl contender. He was a tremendous coach, but an even better leader. I think that’s why he raised the level of every organization he ever joined. We are proud to call him a Pitt Man and our entire program extends its deepest sympathies to the Schottenheimer family.”
Schottenheimer quickly landed in Kansas City, where he led the Chiefs to the postseason in seven of his 10 seasons and had a winning record in nine of 10. His 101-58-1 record with Kansas City gave him a .635 regular-season winning percentage with the Chiefs and cemented his status as one of the greatest regular-season coaches in NFL history.
But success in the postseason was once again difficult to grasp, as the Chiefs won just three playoffs games with seven losses in Schottenheimer’s tenure. He resigned after the 1998 season.
After one mediocre season in Washington, Schottenheimer led the San Diego Chargers to two more division titles in 2004 and 2006, but once again lost in each postseason game. He retired after the 2006 season.
Schottenheimer’s most lasting legacy may be his extensive coaching tree, as NFL head coaches Bruce Arians, Cam Cameron, Cowher, Gunther Cunningham, Tony Dungy, Herm Edwards, Lindy Infante, Mike McCarthy and Tony Sparano all served under Schottenheimer.
Schottenheimer is survived by his wife Pat and children Kristen and Brian, who coached under his father with the Chiefs and Chargers and is now the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach fo the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Schottenheimer was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2011, with the family publicly acknowledging his illness in 2016. His family announced earlier this month that the legendary coach had been placed on hospice care.
NFL Insider John Clayton: Steelers Out of Running for J.J. Watt
One of the league’s most prominent insiders believes the Steelers are out of the running for free agent defensive end J.J. Watt.
Joining The PM Team on 93.7 The Fan on Wednesday, NFL insider John Clayton said Watt will not be joining his brothers T.J. and Derek in Pittsburgh.
Clayton sees the Tennessee Titans, Green Bay Packers and Buffalo Bills as the favorites to land Watt’s services.
For a potential dark horse, Clayton says the Las Vegas Raiders as an outside-the-box candidate to sign the veteran pass rusher.
.@JohnClaytonNFL says JJ Watt won't be coming to Pittsburgh. Tennessee, Green Bay, and Buffalo are the 3 teams. Raiders as a dark horse.— Andrew Fillipponi (@ThePoniExpress) February 24, 2021
Watt leaves Houston as one of the greatest players in franchise history. He was selected to five Pro Bowls, named First-Team All-Pro on five occasions and earned three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards.
A future Hall of Famer, Watt is the Texans’ all-time leader in sacks (101), tackles-for-loss (172) and forced fumbles (25).
Watt recorded 52 total tackles, 14 tackles-for-loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles and returned an interception for a touchdown in 2020.
NFL Hosting Women’s Careers in Football Forum
The NFL is hosting its fifth annual Women’s Careers in Football Forum from Feb. 24-25, the league announced in a press release Tuesday.
The event will be held virtually and “connect 40 women, 75% of whom are women of color, with leaders in professional football to help those women network and build relationships in the areas of coaching, scouting and football operations.”
Those participating in the event will join panel discussions, breakout sessions and have networking opportunities with industry leaders, such as head coaches and team executives. All portions of the event are aimed at building connections that will result in hirings and subsequent representation.
Since its inception in 2017, the two-day event has assisted in developing “a more diverse talent pipeline by connecting high-potential women to career opportunities in football.” According to the league, 118 opportunities for women in football have been created as a result.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and wife Jane Skinner Goodell will speak, as well as NFL Chief Football Administrative Officer Dawn Aponte. In addition, three owners, seven head coaches and six general managers will also join the conversation.
Sarah Thomas made history earlier this month becoming the first woman to officiate a Super Bowl. The champion Tamp Bay Buccaneers also had a record number of women on their coaching staff this past season.
Report: 2021 NFL Salary Cap Expected at $182-183 Million
The 2021 NFL salary cap is expected to be around $182 or $183 million, according to a report by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
That is just slightly above the bare-minimum figure of $180 million agreed to by the NFL and NFLPA last week, and aligns with Steelers Now sources that predict the cap will fall between $180 and $185 million.
The Steelers are one of several teams that will be significantly over the salary cap, regardless of what figure is.
According to Pro Football Talk, those teams have been lobbying to increase the 2021 salary cap at the expense of future years to minimize the impact the pandemic has had on NFL operations.
Doing so would essentially amount to an interest-free loan given by the owners to the players, something that some owners have balked at.
That final figure could still be impacted by the league signing new television contracts for the 2022 season before the salary cap is finalized, which is expected some time in March.
The new league year starts on March 17, which is the day that all teams must be under the new salary cap.