Schottenheimer, NFL's 'One Play at a Time' Coach, Dies

'Martyball' approach made him one of the league's winningest coaches, with 4 different teams
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 10, 2021 8:11 AM CST
'Martyball' Made Him One of NFL's Winningest Coaches
Marty Schottenheimer, then the head coach of the San Diego Chargers, answers questions at a news conference in San Diego in this Jan. 17, 2007, file photo.   (AP Photo/Denis Poroy, File)

Marty Schottenheimer, an NFL coach with one of the league's best records, has died at the age of 77. Schottenheimer, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2014, died in hospice care on Monday in Charlotte, NC, a family spokesperson tells ESPN. The former coach of the Clevelands Brown, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers (then the San Diego Chargers), and Washington's team finished with a 200-126-1 record, the eighth winningest in the NFL, using a cautious "Martyball" approach that concentrated on an aggressive defense, strong running game, and "one play at a time" strategy. He was plagued with "playoff demons," however, with losses in the postseason that were "epic and mystifying," ESPN notes—his record there was 5-13, and he never brought one of his teams to the Super Bowl.

In fact, one outlet reporting on Schottenheimer's death raised fans' ire with a headline that focused on those playoff troubles. Per Fox News, the original headline on the Washington Post obituary read: "Marty Schottenheimer, NFL coach whose teams wilted in the postseason, dies at 77." NFL journalists and others felt that although it was fair to mention Schottenheimer's struggles in the playoffs, it was tacky to do so in the headline, as his career overall was an impressive one and he was widely well-respected in the industry. "Disgusting and horrifying," "utterly gratuitous and cruel," and "gross" were just some of the descriptors used online. "Obituary headlines aren’t the place for cheap shots," CBS Sports writer Will Brinson noted. The Post soon tweaked its headline to read: "Marty Schottenheimer, one of the NFL’s winningest coaches, dies at 77." (Read more Marty Schottenheimer stories.)

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