Marty Schottenheimer spent 21 seasons as an NFL head coach, including 10 with the Chiefs. Thirteen of his teams advanced to the playoffs, seven of them being in Kansas City.
But Schottenheimer said things have never been better than they were Saturday, when he was introduced as the 40th member of the Chiefs Hall of Fame.
“This to me,” he said, pausing to gather himself as he broke into tears, “is the highlight of my career.
“It’s quite a treat for me to find myself in this situation.”
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Coaching the Chiefs from 1989-98, Schottenheimer had a regular season record of 101-58-1. His .634 winning percentage is the best among any coach in Chiefs history. Seven of his 10 Chiefs teams went to the playoffs, though none advanced to the Super Bowl.
But the numbers only tell a fraction of the story. Along with general manager Carl Peterson, Schottenheimer revived a long dormant franchise.
Arrowhead Stadium, which was frequently half-filled for Chiefs games in the 1970s and 1980s, became Kansas City’s favorite haunt by the 1990s. By then, it was always full on game days and became known as one of the NFL’s most intimidating venues.
“When Marty Schottenheimer took over as the head coach of the Chiefs in 1989, he brought with him an energy and an excitement that helped make Arrowhead Stadium one of the most difficult places in the National Football League,” Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said.
Schottenheimer also coached for Cleveland, Washington and San Diego. But at a news conference before Saturday night’s annual 101 Banquet at the Westin Crown Center Hotel, Schottenheimer said his time in Kansas City was his favorite.
“Absolutely it was,” he said. “The beauty of it in my opinion was that there was a change (in Chiefs administration). Carl came in. He and I went to work together under (Lamar Hunt’s) leadership and we put ourselves in a position where we kind of able to get things turned around. Clearly to me, without question, it was the most satisfying and gratifying part of my coaching career was to be a Kansas City Chief.
“We all know the history. The attendance had begun to drop. When Carl and I got in here and we got off to that 8-7-1 start it was a foundation on which we could build.”
In 1990, the Chiefs embarked on a streak of seven playoff appearances in eight years. They won the AFC West championship in 1993, 1995 and 1997.
But Schottenheimer’s playoff record was just 3-7. They advanced as far as the AFC title game just once.
The Chiefs started a long, painful decline in Schottenheimer’s final season. The Chiefs finished 7-9 in 1998 and Schottenheimer resigned afterward.
“There’s hardly a day that goes by in my life when there isn’t some thought about the Chiefs and also the city of Kansas City and the way we were received,” he said. “Long-lasting, loving memories. The things we were able to achieve have brought to me great gratification and satisfaction.”