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Former Browns head coach Marty Schottenheimer passes away

Schottenheimer led Cleveland to 3 division titles, back-to-back AFC Championship appearances in the 1980s

The Browns and NFL are mourning the passing of longtime head coach Marty Schottenheimer.

Schottenheimer, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2014 and was recently moved into hospice care, was 77 years old.

"The Cleveland Browns are saddened to learn of the passing of Marty Schottenheimer," the Browns wrote in a team statement. "As a head coach, he led the organization to four playoff appearances and three divisional titles, but it was his tough, hard-nosed, never give up the fight attitude the team embodied that endeared him to Browns fans and often led to thrilling victories. His impact on the game of football was not only felt in Northeast Ohio but across the entire NFL. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Pat, and his entire family."

Schottenheimer is survived by his wife, Pat, his children Kristen and Brian and grandchildren Brandon, Sutton, Savannah and Catherine.

"We know he is looking down on us from heaven and smiling, said Kristen in a statement released by the Schottenheimer family. "We are so incredibly proud of the man he was and how he lived his life.

"Now more than ever, he would want us to do what he did best: put one foot in front of the other and keep grinding forward, to take care of each other and take care of business, to simply be good to people and love with every single fiber of your being to truly make the world a better place. To honor his legacy, we ask you all do the same. Smile to someone you don't know today and Marty Schottenheimer will surely smile down on you."

Schottenheimer joined the Browns in 1980 as the team's defensive coordinator and served the position for four years. He took the reins as head coach midway through the 1984 season, when he was tapped to replace Sam Rutigliano amid a 1-7 start, and held the role through 1988. The Browns went 44-27 under Schottenheimer, who holds the third-best winning percentage (.620) of any Browns head coach who coached multiple seasons. His 44 wins are the fourth-most in franchise history.

The Browns won three of their first five games under Schottenheimer's watch to finish the 1984 season with a 5-11 record, and he was retained as the full-time head coach entering the 1985 season. Cleveland took off the following year, improving its record to 8-8 and winning its first of three straight AFC Central titles. In 1986, Schottenheimer led the Browns to their most wins since the team joined the NFL, as the team went 12-4 in the regular season and downed the New York Jets in the AFC Divisional Round to advance to the AFC Championship. The Browns did the same in 1987 after a 10-5 season that saw the team beat the Colts in the divisional round before falling to the Broncos for a second consecutive year. The Browns went 10-6 and earned their fourth straight playoff appearance in Schottenheimer's final season.

Schottenheimer went on to coach 16 more seasons in the NFL, the majority of which coming in Kansas City, where he won 101 games during a 10-year run (1989-98). He was the head coach in Washington for one season (2001) before joining the Chargers, whom he led to 47 wins over five seasons from 2002-2006.

Schottenheimer ranks eighth in NFL history with 200 regular season wins as a head coach. He won five playoff games, giving him a total of 205 for his career.

Schottenheimer grew up outside of Pittsburgh and starred as a linebacker at the University of Pittsburgh. The Bills selected Schottenheimer with a fourth-round pick in the 1965 AFL Draft, and he'd go on to play a combined six seasons with the Bills and Patriots. He got into coaching in 1974 with the Portland Storm of the World Football League and made the move to the NFL one year later when he was hired as a linebackers coach for the New York Giants.