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#pounditSunday, March 7, 2021

Washington Post criticized for Marty Schottenheimer death headline

Marty Schottenheimer

Former NFL head coach Marty Schottenheimer died on Monday following a long battle with Alzheimer’s, and one major publication is taking heat for the way it covered the news.

Matt Schuder, an obituary writer at the Washington Post, decided to highlight Schottenheimer’s shortcomings in the headline reporting the longtime coach’s death. The headline stated that Schottenheimer’s “teams wilted in the postseason.”

The Washington Post was immediately skewered for the headline. They eventually changed it to describe Schottenheimer as “one of the NFL’s winningest coaches.

The lede to the story was also changed. You can see how it originally read below, via Jorge Alonso of Bro Bible.

“Marty Schottenheimer, one of the winningest coaches in the National Football League who never found success in the playoffs and failed to lead any of his teams to the Super Bowl, died Feb. 8 at a hospice center in Charlotte.”

That was softened following the criticism and changed to, “Marty Schottenheimer, one of the winningest coaches in the National Football League whose teams found regular-season success yet often struggled in the playoffs and failed to reach the Super Bowl.”

There’s a difference between reporting facts and taking shots at the deceased. Schuder’s original headline and lede seemed harsh and inappropriate.

Schottenheimer’s teams did come up short in the playoffs numerous times, as he had a postseason record of 5-13. He also won 200 regular season games, which is an outstanding feat. His postseason struggles are part of his legacy, but they don’t need to be the focus of his obituary.

Photo: Wikimedia/MLBIpa via CC-by-SA 4.0

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