Super Bowl would be one family's jewel

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A day after the New York Jets defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in the first round of the playoffs, I asked Brian Schottenheimer if meeting the San Diego Chargers in the second round would be special for him.

He claimed it wouldn't be a big deal.

"Somebody asked me if that added merit to [the victory]," Schottenheimer said Thursday at a news conference, "and maybe I wasn't 100 percent truthful."

The Chargers fired his father, Marty Schottenheimer, after going 14-2 in 2006 but losing their first playoff game. Norv Turner just went 13-3, lost his first playoff game and received a contract extension from the Chargers.

"It was important for us to win that game because I have friends on that team," said Brian Schottenheimer, who was Chargers quarterbacks coach from 2002 through 2005, "but it also felt really nice to be able to pick up the phone and be able to talk to my father and tell him that was for him because, obviously, they did a lot of great things ... and 14-2, to get fired is a tough situation."

Jets head coach Rex Ryan knew the significance of Sunday's victory to the Schottenheimer family. Ryan awarded Marty a game ball.

"That meant the world to me," Brian Schottenheimer said. "They painted it up. They sent it down to him. He's coaching in the East-West Shrine Game. That, obviously, meant a lot to him. That meant a lot to me and my father that Rex took the time to think about that."

Brian Schottenheimer will be coaching in his first conference championship game, but he experienced a nightmarish run of them through his father.

Marty Schottenheimer owns a .613 winning percentage in 21 seasons as head coach of the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins and Chargers. But his reputation is based on his inability to reach the Super Bowl.

Marty Schottenheimer was 0-3 in conference title games. His two Cleveland losses were so epic, they had their own names: The Drive and The Fumble. When he guided the Chiefs to the title game in Buffalo, Joe Montana was knocked out before halftime.

"Those were difficult times," Brian Schottenheimer said. "They were things when you look back, you're like, 'How can that happen to one person, one team?'

"He's always said he didn't want his legacy to be defined by wins and losses, and obviously he won a lot of games. He wanted his legacy to be defined by what people say about him, what his players felt about him, what his coaches felt about him.

"In that regard, he's one of the best of all-time. He doesn't have a Super Bowl ring, but he handled those losses with dignity and respect and class that maybe some people didn't."