Here’s why – in my humble opinion – Marty Schottenheimer would have a very hard time returning to Kansas City. The rumor and fervent hope being that Schottenheimer might replace Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli.
And if you subscribe to The Scribe, maybe even lasso former Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher to run the team on the field.
Talk about wet dreams.
Now return with me if you will to January of 1999 where I stood in a room alongside other media while Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt and general manager Carl Peterson, without explanation, more-or-less hung Schottenheimer out to dry.
There was no believable explanation for Schottenheimer’s “retirement,” as the shamefaced coach stood before the local media that had adored him and tap danced his way out of town.
It’s true that the Chiefs had just completed a disappointing 7-9 season, but nobody in that room at Arrowhead believed for one minute that Marty’s departure had anything to do with football.
It was about a widespread rumor that the 56 year old head coach had been having an affair with a waitress who worked at Tanner’s in Overland Park just off 119th Street.
“Schottenheimer’s end appears to be in character with the 1998 Chiefs, messy and unprofessional,” Whitlock sniped. “A few years ago, six months ago, we could have never imagined this. We couldn’t have dreamed that Schottenheimer would walk away from the Chiefs under a dark cloud of speculation about his professional and personal life.”
Get the picture?
Practically everyone in this small town with half a clue about the Chiefs was talking about Schottenheimer’s alleged affair. An affair, by the way, that was undoubtedly terribly hurtful to his wife Pat, who had fashioned a career and image for herself in the community based out of their golf course home in Deer Creek.
I should know. I lived across the golf course from the Scottenheimers and carpooled with his daughter to work on occasion. And prior to the Tanners talk Marty’s image – not just with the media but with his family – was as clean as the driven snow.
Taking a high profile hit over an alleged, high profile romantic rumor most people believed to be true made for an ugly exit. The talk had been so rampant that Lamar Hunt could no longer stand idly by. He had to do something to protect the cleancut image of the organization.
“Unchecked rumors such as this one undermine the credibility of the head coach with the fans and his players…” Whitlock continued. “My guess is that Schottenheimer will step down.”
Not a bad guess, because that’s exactly what Schottenheimer did the very next day.
“(The Chiefs) tried to wrap Schottenheimer’s ‘retirement’ in an attractive bow Monday afternoon,” Whitlock wrote. “They put together a highlight tape of Schottenheimer coaching the Chiefs. They wheeled out a life-size photo of Marty standing among some of his greatest players. They said all the right things, including a Bill Clinton-esque denial by Marty that problems in his personal life had not affected his professional life.”
Put bluntly, nobody believed Schottenheimer merely stepped down after a losing season. Coaches get fired for things like that, they don’t “retire” at age 56 with awkward references to painfully obvious romantic rumors. Nor do they get inexplicable, glorious sendoffs from the team.
And while time heals most – but not all -wounds, it’s hard for me to imagine Schottenheimer’s wife returning to the scene of his incredibly high profile, alleged adulterous affair and holding her head up among their many friends and fans in the community.
Could it happen 14 years after the fact? Anything’s possible, but don’t hold your breath.
It’s clear that so widespread were the rumors that the story was likely to have surfaced at some point, just as former Royals manager Tony Pena‘s did in the Pitch six years later.
Hey, look no further than what just went down with General David Petraeus.
Will Marty return to KC to head the Chiefs? I think not.