Skip to main content

Bernie Kosar, Jim Donovan deliver heartfelt tributes to Marty Schottenheimer

The former Browns head coach passed away Monday at the age of 77

Tributes, fond memories and well wishes have filled the airwaves and social media in the wake of Marty Schottenheimer's passing. The longtime NFL coach was remembered fondly by his former players, coaches and more, as they detailed not just how Schottenheimer affected them on the field, but away from it.

Voice of the Browns Jim Donovan and Browns Legend Bernie Kosar shared their favorite Schottenheimer stories during a memorable Tuesday edition of Cleveland Browns Daily.

Donovan came to Cleveland in 1985, just as Schottenheimer began his first full season as the Browns head coach. He covered the team closely as Schottenheimer led the Browns to the playoffs over the next four seasons, a stretch that included three division titles and two appearances in the AFC Championship.

"It was just such a golden age," Donovan said. "He truly changed the culture of the team. They needed a new identity. The town was certainly tough and it had gone through a lot and they really wanted the football team to be tough and man, that was right down his power alley. 

"It was a wonderful marriage between Cleveland Browns fans and their coach ... He really loved being the head coach of the Cleveland Browns."

Donovan and Schottenheimer grew even closer at a preseason luncheon in the days leading up to the 1987 season. Donovan had just returned from Boston following the passing of his father. Amid the hoopla and excitement of the luncheon, Schottenheimer sought out Donovan and engaged in an emotional conversation about how to persevere and push forward after the death of a parent.

"This was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns at a huge event and was getting ready to kick off a huge season. That's the kind of guy he was," Donovan said. "It wasn't just pep talks and the gleam speech. It was when he was dealing with you one on one, he was really caring about what went on in your life."

Kosar had tears in his eyes as he shared some of his favorite Schottenheimer moments — an homage, he said, to the many times tears would fill Schottenheimer's eyes in pregame speeches and other interactions with his players.

"That discipline, that preparation, that competitor Marty Schottenheimer was really resonates within me today," Kosar said. "That genuine emotion he was able to transfer to me as a player, that competitiveness me and him had toward a common goal of just winning games, I can't thank him enough."

Kosar recalled a moment he'll never forget when the two were together in 2016, when members of the Browns' 1986 team reunited for a ceremony at FirstEnergy Stadium. 

As part of the celebration, members of the team signed life-sized football cards of themselves. Schottenheimer, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease two years earlier, looked over at Kosar and joked about how his five-letter name was much easier to sign than "Schottenheimer" was. Kosar then assisted Schottenheimer as they penned his name together.

"Doing it as one person really resonated that family he was always trying to articulate to us in the 80s of one common goal, one common theme," Kosar said. "That much talked about video of 'the gleam,' the gleam was in his eyes still then even with this tragic, sad disease that we're all working on trying to bring a cure to had already taken an effect on his body. Yet he still had that beautiful gleam in his eyes."