In 1965, Schottenheimer chose the ‘Buffalo Bills,’ after being selected for both the leagues. He stayed with the ‘Bills’ for the next four seasons, between 1965 and 1968.
During his rookie season, he played with the ‘Bills’ to win the ‘AFL Championship’ title and was selected for the ‘AFL All-Star Team’ the same year. During the 1969 preseason, he intercepted two passes in a game against the ‘Houston Oilers.’ He was sent to play for the ‘Pats’ (or the ‘Boston Patriots’) sometime before the 1969 football season started. He spent the next two seasons playing for the ‘Pats.’
He bounced around a bit from the ‘Pats’ to the ‘Pittsburgh Steelers’ and finally landed with the ‘Baltimore Colts’ for the 1971 season, which became his swan song as a linebacker. Schottenheimer retired from the ‘NFL’ in 1971 and spent the next several years working in the real-estate market.
He wanted to be a real-estate baron. However, after realizing his true calling, Schottenheimer came back to football as a coach for the ‘Portland Storm’ of the ‘World Football League’ in 1974. The ‘Portland Storm’ were in a dismal financial condition back then. Neither the staff nor the players were paid, and Schottenheimer had to come to a conclusion to be able to run his family.
In 1975, after an impromptu meeting with the head coach of the ‘New York Giants,’ Schottenheimer finally got the break he was looking for. He was hired as a linebackers coach for the ‘NFL’s ‘New York Giants.’ However, he did not abandon the ‘Portland Storm’ and held the same position with them. He was promoted to the post of a defensive co-ordinator for the ‘Giants’ after the first two seasons, in 1977.
After spending one season with the ‘Giants’ as their defensive co-ordinator, Schottenheimer joined the ‘Detroit Lions’ as their linebackers coach in 1978. He stayed with them till 1979.
In 1980, he joined the ‘Cleveland Browns’ as a defensive co-ordinator and coached the team for the next four seasons, till the 1984 game against the ‘New England Patriots’ (1-7-0) that saw the end of their head coach, Sam Rutigliano.
Schottenheimer was immediately offered the position of the interim head coach by team owner, Art Modell. However, he rejected the offer, saying he would not take up a team mid-season unless it was guaranteed that he would be back with the team the following year. He was signed as the head coach for the ‘Browns’ for the next 3 years.
After he took over as the head coach mid-season in 1984, the ‘Browns’ won the next four games that season. They ended up winning three consecutive division titles. Their season record put them at the first position in the ‘AFC Central’ rankings in 1985.
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Despite having a strong defense and a quarterback like Bernie Kosar, they suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of the defending ‘AFC’ champions, the ‘Miami Dolphins,’ in a divisional playoff in 1986. The ‘Browns’ had a lead of 21-3 before half-time, but the ‘Dolphins’ came back strongly and snatched the game away with 24-21.
The ‘Browns’ ended the 1986 regular season on a high note, with 12 wins, defeating the ‘Pittsburgh Steelers’ at the ‘Three River Stadium.’ In the first playoff, the ‘Browns’ defeated the ‘New York Jets’ in an overtime game, making it their first postseason win since 1969.
During the 1986 season, two of the most heart-breaking defeats that Schottenheimer had to endure were “The Drive” and “The Fumble” against the same team. In the 1986 ‘AFC Championship’ game, the ‘Browns’ made a lead of 20-13 against the ‘Denver Broncos’ and were almost sure of a win, when John Elway of the ‘Broncos’ managed a 98-yard drive that gave the game its name. Elway’s drive in that playoff is considered his best to date.
In 1987, despite winning the ‘AFC Central’ for the third time in a row, they faced “déjà vu” at the ‘AFC Championship’ in Denver that year. The game seemed to be on ‘Denver’s side from the beginning, with them scoring a 21-3 lead, but the ‘Browns’ managed to bounce back after half-time. With only 1:12 left, Kosar and Earnest Byner missed a touchdown by just seconds. Denver won the game 38-33.
After heavy losses in the past two seasons, 1988 was the year of injuries for the ‘Browns,’ with six quarterback injuries. Two of them had been injured twice in one season. There was heavy shuffling between the players. Against all odds, they made it to the playoffs as a “wild card” team. They faced the ‘Houston Oilers’ in a “wild card” game. The team lost 24-23. Soon, the ‘Cleveland Browns’ lost one of their best coaches to the ‘Kansas City Chiefs.’
Schottenheimer brought similar results with the ‘Chiefs’ after joining them in 1989. In 1990, they won their first ever postseason game since 1986. The ‘Chiefs’ finished that season at 11-5, making it their best season since 1969, and the streak continued for the next four seasons.
In 1993, quarterback Joe Montana joined the ‘Chiefs,’ along with Marcus Allen, and they took the game to a different level. Marty Schottenheimer, who once had to worry about hate mails, was now swamped with love and a polka song.
In 1994, the ‘Chiefs’ defeated the ‘Pittsburgh Steelers’ 27-24 and the ‘Houston Oilers’ 28-20. Their playoff season, however, ended playing against the ‘Buffalo Bills,’ with the ‘Bills’ winning their fourth ‘AFC’ title in a row.
The ‘Chiefs’ won nine consecutive seasons under Schottenheimer, but he was still not able to translate it into a championship win. The team got frustrated with the near misses they had over the years, with their worst season being 1998. Marty Schottenheimer announced his break as a coach in 1999, which he considered the biggest mistake he ever made.
In a 2000 interview, Schottenheimer rejected the idea of working for Daniel Snyder, the ‘Washington Redskins’ owner. A year later, he could not resist the offer of being the head coach and manager. Despite a dismal start to the season, the ‘Redskins’ finished the season on a high note. However, Snyder had to fire Schottenheimer, since he did not agree to step down from his post of general manager.
In 2002, he joined the ‘San Diego Chargers.’ The ‘Chargers’ did not do too well in 2003, finishing 4-12. However, he was named the ‘NFL Coach of the Year’ in 2004, after the ‘Chargers’ finished with a tally of 12-4 that year and won the ‘AFC West.’ Schottenheimer posted a total of 47-33 with the ‘Chargers.’ He led the team to two playoffs but lost to the ‘New York Jets’ in 2005 and to the ‘New England Patriots’ in 2007. Despite his 14-2 in 2007, he was fired after losing to the ‘Patriots.’
He was hired as the head coach of the ‘Virginia Destroyers’ of the ‘United Football League’ (UFL) in 2011, a job for which he did not get paid. However, he led the team to a championship. He was awarded ‘United Football League Coach of the Year’ in 2011. He resigned from the position suddenly, before the 2012 season.
He was hired by ‘ESPN’ to work as an ‘NFL’ insider in 2007, a role he had served during a hiatus, between coaching the ‘Chiefs’ and the ‘Redskins,’ from 1999 to 2000.