- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 11, 2001

Washington Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer acknowledges that he'll take a long look around Arrowhead Stadium before tonight's preseason opener. The memories of 10 seasons as coach of the Kansas City Chiefs haven't been erased by a new job.

"I don't see any harm in that," Schottenheimer said. "I think of what I consider to be one of the greatest venues in football. I think of the people still there. Those were 10 great years. I'll probably have a sense of nostalgia, but that's good."

It was there that Schottenheimer rebuilt the Chiefs after coaching the Cleveland Browns to consecutive AFC Championship losses during a five-year tenure. Schottenheimer went 101-58-1 from 1989 to 1998, with seven playoff seasons and three AFC West championships. Only San Francisco posted a better run over that period. Schottenheimer delivered the Chiefs' first division championship in 22 years and an NFL regular-season best 13-3 mark in 1997.

And it was there, too, that Schottenheimer soured on football. Free agency kept him from developing players. They were gone too soon, and that really bothered a coach who considers himself a teacher foremost.

The game was becoming overrun by personalities and big money, and the traditionalist in Schottenheimer couldn't stomach it. When Kansas City and Denver combined for 10 personal fouls in a late 1998 game that was underscored by a personal duel between Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas and Denver tight end Shannon Sharpe, Schottenheimer was disgusted. He resigned after the season.

"That was hard," he said of the offending game. "That shouldn't have happened. It happened on my watch, and it bothers me to this day. My football teams didn't play that way. They didn't do that and it infuriated me and it humiliated me.

"I'm good and I could have [managed troublesome players], but I had too many. All of a sudden, I'm no longer the head coach. I'm a guy trying to manage all these different personalities, and it didn't work."

Schottenheimer became an ESPN studio analyst and tried to teach the public the basics of the game. He liked it fine, but it didn't replace his desire for a championship. Current Kansas City coach Dick Vermeil understands. This also is his first game back after a one-year layoff following St. Louis' Super Bowl championship.

"You sort of crave the responsibility and leadership role," Vermeil said. "It's what makes you feel worthwhile. You enjoy the competition and relationships with people and watching them grow. Knowing Marty, that's all part of him."

Vermeil was instrumental in Schottenheimer taking the Redskins job after the latter's public stance that he couldn't work with a hands-on owner like Dan Snyder. Vermeil and Schottenheimer are golf buddies, although Vermeil claims his friend beats him by "three touchdowns and three field goals." Vermeil told Schottenheimer the Redskins were a good fit for him. Two weeks later, Schottenheimer was Washington's coach.

Vermeil realizes the Chiefs crowd, known as one of the NFL's more boisterous, will be torn. They'll want Vermeil to win, but there's also good memories of the former boss.

"What Marty did in Kansas City may not be appreciated for years," Vermeil said. "He doesn't get credit because he didn't go to the Super Bowl and win it, but [his record is] better than a lot of guys that went to Super Bowls and won it, including mine. I'm sure fans will pay their respects."

The Schottenheimer era begins tonight for Washington, and Vermeil believes it will be successful.

"He has a deep set of beliefs, and he's always been able to transmit those to players," Vermeil said. "It's always been successful, and there's no reason it won't again."

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