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The Gleam of Marty Schottenheimer

In the summer of 1988, I was 15 years old in between my freshman and sophomore years in high school.  I was working a summer job at a local McDonalds restaurant.  That summer was one of the hottest on record for Northeast Ohio. And the optimism for the Cleveland Browns that summer was sky high. Browns fans were not as jaded back then. The team was expected to win and contend for a Super Bowl. That team was led by then head coach Marty Schottenheimer.

In the middle of the 1984 season Schottenheimer was hired as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. He was then the defensive coordinator of the team. He refused the interim head coach position, he felt he could not be respected as interim head coach. So, then owner Art Modell and GM Ernie Accorsi hired him as the team’s new head coach. And once he took over the team transformed to a winning team. The team was 1-7 when Sam Rutigliano was fired as the head coach. Marty Schottenheimer finished the season at 4-4. Browns fans at that time knew good things for the Browns were on the horizon.

In the next 4 years the Cleveland Browns made four playoff appearances, won 3 division titles, and made 2 AFC championship game appearances. His overall record with the Browns was 46-31 including the playoffs. After the injury riddled and disappointing 1988 season that ended with an AFC Wildcard game loss to the Houston Oilers. Schottenheimer was unceremoniously fired for refusing to fire his brother as special team’s coordinator and hire an offensive coordinator. He went on to be successful in Kansas City as the Chiefs head coach. The Browns have only won one division championship since then in 1989.

Schottenheimer’s most famous speech was before the 1986 AFC Championship game at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, he was recorded as telling his players that “there’s a gleam men”! He was talking about the moment they were experiencing. Schottenheimer went on to coach the Washington Redskins and San Diego Chargers after his tenure in Kansas City. His overall NFL head coach record was 205-139-1. His only downfall was the lack of postseason success. Unfortunately, Marty Schottenheimer passed away in February of 2021. In his life, he left a legacy in the NFL. After his departure it took the Cleveland Browns over thirty years to recover from that awful decision of letting him leave. Here we are in the summer of 2024. Optimism is back for Cleveland Browns fans; I am now 51 years old with a family. And I along with every Browns fan this season is waiting to once again experience the gleam!


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