The terms “Super Bowl” and “Schottenheimer” have not gone together in NFL history. In fact, Marty Schottenheimer has suffered some of the most heart-breaking losses on the porch of the Super Bowl. He was the head coach in Cleveland when they lost to the Broncos in back-to-back seasons – first there was “The Drive” by John Elway and then “The Fumble” by Earnest Byner that cut his teams short – and took the Chiefs to the AFC title game.
Now his son Brian Schottenheimer is on the verge of his first AFC Championship Game as a coach, the offensive coordinator of the Jets. The younger Schottenheimer recalled those tough losses on Thursday.
“I was there for ‘The Drive,’ I was not at ‘The Fumble’ game, the final year in 1987 up in Denver,” Schottenheimer said. “I was there for the championship game in Buffalo when (Joe) Montana got knocked out right before the half and Buffalo went on to beat them. Those were difficult times. They were things when you look back, you’re like, 'How can that happen to one person? To one team?' ”
Does the pain linger? To a point.
“But he’s always said he doesn’t want his legacy to be defined by wins and losses and obviously he won a lot of games,” Schottenheimer said of his father. “He wanted his legacy to be defined by what people say about him, what his players felt about him, what his coaches felt about him. In that regard he’s one of the best of all time.
“He doesn’t have a Super Bowl ring but he handled those losses with dignity and respect and class that maybe some people didn’t.”
What he does have is a game ball, which Rex Ryan sent to Marty after the win over San Diego. Marty Schottenheimer was fired by the Chargers after a 14-2 season three years ago. Brian said that when he spoke last week and said that there was no significance for him to be playing the Chargers, “maybe I wasn’t 100 percent truthful.”
“It was important for us to win the game because I have friends on that team but it also felt really nice to be able to pick up the phone after the game and talk to my father and tell him that was for him,” Brian said. “14-2 to get fired is a tough situation.”
Does Schottenheimer think about those near-misses his father experienced as he prepares for a chance to advance to the Super Bowl?
“I haven’t thought about it,” he said. “This is a different time, different age. I’m thrilled to be going into this game. I think we have a really good team, we don’t have to do this ourselves offensively. We’re playing really good team football right now. I look forward to the challenge and it will be quite a challenge.”