After working in real estate following his retirement as a player, he turned to coaching in the N.F.L. He spent two years as the Giants’ linebacker coach and then was their defensive coordinator in 1977. He coached the Detroit Lions’ linebackers for two seasons after that before becoming the Browns’ defensive coordinator. He succeeded Sam Rutigliano as the Browns’ head coach midway through the 1984 season, when they were 1-7.
Relying on a power ground game featuring Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack and the passing of Bernie Kosar, Schottenheimer took the Browns to the American Football Conference final following the 1986 and 1987 seasons, but they lost to the Denver Broncos each time in their bid to reach the Super Bowl.
The first time, the quarterback John Elway led the Broncos to a tying touchdown after they took over on their 2-yard line late in the fourth quarter, the sequence that became known as “the drive.” The Browns were then beaten on a field goal in overtime.
The next year, in a play that became known as “the fumble,” Byner was stripped of the football just as he was about to cross the goal line for a potential game-tying touchdown with about a minute left. The Broncos took a safety and ran out the clock for a 38-33 victory.
Schottenheimer’s 1988 Browns team went 10-6 and lost in the first round of the playoffs. At the time, his brother, Kurt, was the team’s defensive coordinator, and when the owner, Art Modell, insisted that he reassign his brother, Schottenheimer quit. He had also resisted Modell’s demand that he hire a new offensive coordinator, having filled that role himself when it become vacant that year.
Schottenheimer was the first to admit that he was strong-willed.
“Maybe I thought there was a pot of gold somewhere else to be found,” he said in his memoir, “Martyball!” (2012), written with Jeff Flanagan. “But I was stubborn, very stubborn back then. I’ve always been stubborn but much more so when I decided to leave Cleveland.”
He then began a 10-season run as coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, taking them to the playoffs seven times.