Marty Schottenheimer resigned as coach of the Kansas City Chiefs Monday after a decade marked by regular-season success and bitter playoff failures.
"After 10 years, I find that it is time for someone else to get an opportunity," Schottenheimer said. "I have decided to take a break, take some time and relax."
The announcement, which had been widely speculated since Sunday, followed Schottenheimer's first losing season as an NFL coach, in which the Chiefs finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs.
"I fully understand and respect Marty's decision to step away," Chief president and general manager Carl Peterson said.
Schottenheimer said his resignation had nothing to do with marital problems, calling the rumors "absolutely false and untrue."
This was a season in which the Chiefs were thought to be Super Bowl material. It was far from the case.
"The responsibility of the head coach very simply is this: You have to create an environment in which your football team can perform and play and then you have to make sure that every week they are prepared to do that," Schottenheimer said.
"For a multitude of reasons, we were unable to get that done. Clearly, it was our most disappointing (season) since we've been here."
Schottenheimer had been the longest tenured coach in the league. In 10 years with the Chiefs, he compiled a 101-58-1 record, won three AFC West titles and advanced to the 1993 AFC Championship Game.
| Marty Schottenheimer is out in Kansas City after a 7-9 season. (AP) |
Some reports have Schottenheimer taking the expansion Cleveland Browns job. Former Cleveland owner Art Modell fired him in 1988 after Schottenheimer refused to fire soe assistants. Schottenheimer came to Kansas City to build his reputation as one of the league's premier coaches. His 145 career victories rank 10th on the all-time list.
More than those accomplishments, however, is his part in revitalizing a moribund program. When he and Peterson took over in 1989, the franchise had been to the playoffs once in 18 years. Schottenheimer immediately brought a hard-nosed, defense-oriented brand of football that reflected his gritty roots as a backup linebacker who once played special teams for the Buffalo Bills.
In many ways, the Chiefs are Kansas City, Missouri's second-biggest city with only one other major sports team -- the Kansas City Royals. Games have been sold out for years and the Chiefs consistently lead the NFL in attendance. For such a small-market team, Chiefs merchandise sometimes placed in the top 10 in NFL team sales.
Schottenheimer's legacy, though, will be that of a great coach who could never win a Super Bowl. Twice he reached the AFC Championship Game with Cleveland. In Kansas City, his postseason record was 3-7, including six first-round losses.
At one time, Schottenheimer, 55, could do no wrong. He was praised by fans and local and national media. Things began to unravel after the 1995 season when the Chiefs, then with the best record in the AFC, lost a first-round playoff game to Indianapolis.
Since then, Schottenheimer has been criticized for his offensive philosophy. During his reign, the Chiefs have had a hard time developing a serviceable quarterback. An aging Joe Montana was signed in 1993 and took the team to the AFC Championship Game in Buffalo. The Chiefs lost that game 30-13, Montana was injured and played another year, but the franchise went through a carousel of quarterbacks after that.
The Chiefs haven't won a playoff game since 1993.
Schottenheimer hit rock bottom this season. His team finished below .500 for the first time in his career, and the Chiefs led the league and set a franchise record for penalties. Injuries took out several starters.
But as recently as two weeks ago, Schottenheimer said he expected to be back as Chiefs coach. He is under contract until 2001.
Several names have surfaced as replacements: Former Carolina coach Dom Capers, current defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham, assistant head coach Al Saunders, offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye and Pittsburgh head coach Bill Cowher.
© 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report