Head coach Marty Schottenheimer led his Virginia Destroyers to the United Football League title, defeating Jim Fassel’s Las Vegas Locomotives, 17-3, on Oct. 21.
“It’s as gratifying as any experience I’ve had,” Schottenheimer said.
It also represents Schottenheimer’s first title as a professional coach, an accomplishment he achieved during the Destroyers’ inaugural season.
Schottenheimer had a successful NFL coaching career with the Browns, Chiefs, Redskins and Chargers, going 205-139-1 while winning eight division titles. His critics, though, called him a good regular season coach who could not win the “big one,” citing his 0-3 record in AFC championship games and 5-13 overall playoff record.
Schottenheimer won the UFL title this season with the Virginia Destroyers.
“Those feelings and attitudes are real,” Schottenheimer said. “The truth frees us all. The facts are what they are.”
He, however, never said the UFL championship provided vindication. Schottenheimer, 69, does not concern himself with those labels, reflecting instead on his teams’ journeys and the relationships he made with players, coaches and staff.
“As I look back on my career,” he said, “the thing that was more important to me than the outcome — the wins and the losses and all of that — was the people.”
His Destroyers squad featured former Chiefs coaches Kurt Schottenheimer and Mike Stock and talented players.
Former Colts RB Dominic Rhodes was the UFL’s offensive MVP and ran for 90 yards during the title game. The game’s MVP was S Aaron Rouse, a former Packer and Giant, who returned an interception for a touchdown. Chris Greisen, who played with the Cardinals, quarterbacked the Destroyers.
Schottenheimer expressed great satisfaction in seeing his players make NFL teams. He enjoys coaching in the UFL and hopes to do so for the foreseeable future, a prospect that the league’s finances will determine.
Following the UFL’s third season, which featured a delayed start and contraction of the Hartford Colonials, rumors have circulated that the league will fold.
Schottenheimer, though, has received positive feedback from UFL founder/Locomotives owner Bill Hambrecht and Destroyers owner Bill Mayer regarding the UFL’s future.
“Both of them have indicated to me that the expectation is to move forward. I wouldn’t suggest for a moment there wouldn’t be some modification to schedule or time of the year,” Schottenheimer said. “There is no doubt that there is a market for this type of product.”
The status of the UFL may remain up in the air, but Schottenheimer said he would not return to the NFL.
“I don’t see that in my future,” he said.
He, though, still carefully follows the NFL game. He hopes to attend the rest of the Jets home games. His son, Brian Schottenheimer, serves as the Jets offensive coordinator.
Father and son constantly discuss football “so I can clutter his mind with things that are a part of the old school.”
The Oct. 23 weekend was special for the Schottenheimer family as they celebrated two significant victories. The Destroyers won the title Friday. On Sunday the Jets rallied from a 21-10 halftime deficit to defeat the Chargers, one of Marty’s former teams, 27-21.
“We had a two-for,” he said. “There’s two events in combination that have brought our family great satisfaction.”
Before the Chargers game, the elder Schottenheimer caught up with acquaintances, including Chargers president Dean Spanos and Jets RB LaDainian Tomlinson, the NFL player to whom he remains closest. They call each other every couple of months.
Schottenheimer has begun forging the same kind of relationships during His UFL experience, which resulted in his first title as coach.
“I don’t look at the club that I’m with. I look at the people that are a part of the group that I’m coaching,” he said. “At the end of the day, when you’re able to be a part of that, it is an extremely gratifying feeling and experience to know that you’ve had some small part in whatever achievement has been reached.”
Jeff Fedotin has written for Packers.com, Pro Football Weekly, ESPN The Magazine, the Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World and Rivals.com. After graduating from Northwestern University, he interned for the Buffalo Bills.