Schottenheimer brothers prepare to face off in exhibition
By Jim Thomas
Of the Post-Dispatch
Saturday, Aug. 20 2005

Earlier this week, Marty Schottenheimer was temporarily stymied when asked if
he'd ever coached against kid brother Kurt.

"Let me think here for a minute," Schottenheimer said, in a phone interview
from San Diego. "I would've thought somewhere along the line I would've. But I
can't ... to be honest with you, I really don't remember."

Actually, it was just two years ago. Late in the 2003 season, Marty's San Diego
Chargers defeated Kurt's Detroit Lions 14-7 at Ford Field. At the time, Kurt
was defensive coordinator for the Lions; Marty was in his second season as head
coach with the Chargers.

After more than 300 contests as an NFL head coach, maybe all those games have
started to run together for Marty. In any event, the Brothers Schottenheimer
square off again Sunday, when the Rams and the Chargers meet in a preseason
game at Qualcomm Stadium.

Sure, it will be nice to see each other, but it's hardly a sentimental matchup.

"All we want to do this week is try to take another step forward as we prepare
for the opening of the season," said Kurt, in his first season as Rams
secondary coach.

Sure, he'd like to beat Kurt, Marty says.

"But obviously, there's a lot more important issues at hand right now as each
of us try to get the evaluation of some of these players, particularly the
younger ones, resolved in a positive way," Marty said.

The Schottenheimers grew up in the coal and steel mill country of McDonald,
Pa., near Pittsburgh.

"We grew up in a real small community," Kurt said. "Most of the kids at that
age played sports. We'd just go from one sport to the other. We'd go football,
basketball, baseball, golf. I wrestled some."

Marty, who turns 62 next month, is six years older than Kurt. They were never
on the same youth teams together, although there were a few backyard
skirmishes. And in the spirit of big brothers, Marty made Kurt pay. Right?

"I don't know," Marty said, tongue in cheek. "I think I probably tried to give
him some gentle urgings in direction moreso than trying to take advantage of
him at my age."

Both gravitated to coaching once their playing days were over. Three years into
his first NFL head-coaching job with Cleveland, Marty added Kurt to his Browns
staff as special teams coach. Kurt worked for Marty for 13 of the next 15 years
- in Cleveland (1987-88), Kansas City ('89-98), and Washington (2001). The only
gap was in 1999-2000, when Marty was doing analyst work for ESPN, and Kurt was
defensive coordinator in Kansas City.

"Marty's just totally organized; very detailed in everything that he does,"
Kurt said. "There's no stone unturned with him. He's always going to have them
well prepared. And his teams aren't going to beat themselves."

Marty lasted only a year with Daniel Snyder's Redskins, but when he went to San
Diego in 2002, Kurt didn't come with him. Kurt went to Detroit instead as
defensive coordinator, but he insists it wasn't a case of wanting to get out of
Marty's shadow.

"People will tell you that from time to time," Kurt said. "People say: 'Get
away from your brother. Chart your own course.' "

Kurt said he went to Detroit simply because he thought it was a better
opportunity at the time than in San Diego.

"It was a team that I thought was going to be on the rise," Kurt said. "I liked
the direction that they were going. It was a good organization.

"But I'll say this about working with my brother: The most important thing is
working for people that give you a chance to win. What people do you want to be
around? Do you want to be around people that have a method of winning and being
successful? And there aren't many better than Marty Schottenheimer. I like
being in that environment. He gives you a chance to win every Sunday."

It is that same quality, Kurt said, that attracted him to Mike Martz and the
Rams.

"Mike Martz will give you a chance to win on Sundays," Kurt said. "I mean, he
is going to do a great job that way."

From Marty's point of view, Kurt was doing far more than merely riding his
coattails in Cleveland, Kansas City, and Washington.

"We did have some measure of success," Marty said. "And of course, he was a
significant contributor in that regard. ... He's always done a terrific job for
us. He's very organized. And he really always has been an excellent teacher."

In St. Louis, Kurt already has become known for his direct - sometimes blunt -
approach to coaching.

"He doesn't waste your time," Martz said. "Players want you to tell them what
they need to know to help them get better right away. A lot of times, there's
no easy way of putting it. And if you sugar coat it or draw it out, they're not
getting better."

So far, Rams defensive backs seem to be responding.

"He's a straightforward, honest coach," cornerback Travis Fisher said. "He's
just going to tell you the truth. If you're doing bad, ... he's going to tell
you.

"If you're the kind of person that wants to be successful, then you'll take it
in a good way. You'll take it as, 'Hey, he cares about my career. He's trying
to help me out.' ... I think all the guys are buying into it, and I don't see a
problem with it."