Schottenheimer relishes being 23-7 against Raiders
ALAMEDA - When you've won 179 NFL games and lost 120, chances are you have a winning record against a lot of teams. But no organization has felt the pointy end of Marty Schottenheimer's boot more often than the Raiders.
Through 21 seasons - with Cleveland, Kansas City, Washington and now San Diego - Schottenheimer's combined record against Oakland is a sterling 23-7. It's his highest victory count against any team, and his 22 regular-season wins are the most by any coach, active or retired, against the Raiders. But is beating Oakland a personal vendetta? Naahh.
Listen to Schottenheimer, speaking to Bay Area reporters by phone earlier this week: "Personal? No. ... I don't particularly get any enjoyment out of beating any particular teams. Winning obviously is the most important thing for us."
But in San Diego, they're telling a very different story.
When Schottenheimer took the podium to kick off his weekly press conference Tuesday, he stood at the front of the room, faced the media assemblage, folded his arms and simply said: "Raider Week."
It's a call to action that Schottenheimer has been sounding since the early 1990s, when he was leading the Chiefs against their hated rivals from Oakland. Ever since, Raider Week - first in Kansas City, and now in San Diego - has brought with it a highly charged atmosphere.
"He doesn't like the Raiders," Chargers wide receiver Kassim Osgood told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "He never has. Marty always gets excited for Raider Week. He's always the most excited person on the team. Right when you walk in, you see his eyes, he's ready to go."
Former quarterback Rich Gannon remembers that look. He has experienced this rivalry from both sides, first as a Chief from 1995-98, then as a Raider in 2002-03 (Schottenheimer was out of the AFC West from 1999-2001), and he knows how intense it got.
"It was the biggest thing on the calendar (in Kansas City)," Gannon said. "Marty would downplay it to the media - 'It's another game' and all that. But it was the biggest bunch of baloney you ever heard."
Then, as now, Schottenheimer would direct his staff to post-Raider Week signs in the locker room, the weight room and the training room, constant reminders of the villainous enemy his team was about to confront.
"It was like a homecoming game," Gannon said.
It would be easy to view Schottenheimer's animosity for the silver and black through the prism of the Raiders-Chiefs rivalry. A strong current of animosity runs through this match-up, dating back to a rift between team owners, Oakland's Al Davis and Kansas City's Lamar Hunt, in the mid-'60s. Davis has a long memory, and he, too, has always emphasized these games, which through the years have been punctuated by brawls.
But Schottenheimer wasn't merely following company policy. He developed his own current of dislike soon after taking over the Chiefs in 1989.
During his first couple of years in Kansas City, the coach took offense to several plays that he deemed flagrantly violent. Incensed, he went into the film archives of the Raiders-Chiefs series and helped put together a highlight/lowlight reel of late hits and cheap shots, a production that included such memorable performances as Oakland's Ben Davidson kicking Kansas City's Len Dawson while the quarterback lay on the ground.
"His point to the players was, 'I'll take care of the fine,'" Gannon said. "'If something has to be done, do it. No one is going to be physical against us like that.'"
Gannon, who now analyzes NFL games for CBS (he'll be in Oakland for the Bills game next weekend), insists that the Raiders never aimed similar venom at Schottenheimer. To Davis and his players, all AFC West games are equally infused with emotion and importance.
Still, you can bet Davis is aware of that 7-23 record against Schottenheimer.
"I don't think he's too proud of it," Gannon said.
No, you can bet that while the Chargers were steeping themselves in Raider Week, the Raiders were just as busy enjoying Schottenheimer Week.