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Full Martz Article
Martz takes leave of absence
Rams coach Mike Martz will take an indefinite leave of absence while he is treated for a bacterial infection of a heart valve.
At a 5 p.m. press conference at Rams Park, team president John Shaw said Martz will be "hospitalized 4-12 days" and will not return to work for an "indefinite" period of time.
"It is undetermined how long he'll be out" of coaching, Shaw said, although Post-Dispatch football writer Jim Thomas reported that Martz will be gone at least six weeks.
Asked at the press conference if Martz is done coaching for the season, Shaw said, "It's really difficult to say. I don't anticipate that. It could be as little as two weeks (that Martz is out), and it could be more than that."
Assistant head coach Joe Vitt will be the interim head coach during Martz's absence.
A specialist examined Martz on Monday morning and recommended his hospitalization. Martz met with Shaw shortly after noon to discuss that decision, then he briefly met with the team at 2 p.m.
“It was an emotional meeting,” Vitt said. “He addressed the team and left.”
Vitt described the team as being relieved to hear the news.
“Our players have seen the condition Mike is in,” Vitt said. “They have seen the look in his eyes.
“It’s less of a distraction now. It’s a relief to all of us. He is getting the treatment he needs and we’ll go on.”
Shaw said Martz will not return until he has full medical clearance to coach again. In the meantime, offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild will assume Martz’s game-planning and play-calling responsibility.
“We have great offensive coaches,” Vitt said. “Mike involves the offensive coaches in the game-planning. This system has been highly successful.
“Steve is excited about the challenge. Our offensive coaches work well together.”
There was some discussion of shutting Martz down last week as his condition worsened.
“He felt he was cleared medically to coach,” Shaw said. “Mike is a competitive person. He wants to coach.”
In fact, a part of him still wants to coach.
“I think he is concerned he is letting a lot of people down at this time,” Shaw said.
After Sunday's 37-31 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at the Edward Jones Dome, Martz said the illness had affected his primary game-day duty, which is offensive play-calling.
"I wasn't myself this week," Martz said after Sunday's game. "The game plan wasn't clear for me. I probably should have let (offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild) call the game. But that's just that part that's in you; you just want to bulldog it.
"It's over with now but I just feel what happened to me has affected this team, and that breaks my heart."
Martz was first hospitalized Sept. 30 with what was thought to be a sinus infection. He coached two days later during a 44-24 loss to the New York Giants.
Endocarditis affects 10,000 to 20,000 Americans each year and in some cases can cause require open-heart surgery, according to Dr. Arthur Labovitz, director of cardiology at the St. Louis University School of Medicine.
Heart problems aren't uncommon for relatively young coaches in the high-stress atmosphere of the NFL.
Dan Reeves had a heart procedure while coaching Denver in his mid-40s. During the 1998 season, he underwent quadruple bypass season at age 54 but returned to the sidelines less than four weeks later to coach the Atlanta Falcons to the Super Bowl.
Dallas' Bill Parcells has had several heart procedures and cited health problems when he quit the New York Giants after winning his second Super Bowl with them at age 49 in 1991. He has since coached New England and the New York Jets as well as the Cowboys.
In 1988, Chicago coach Mike Ditka suffered a heart attack at the age of 49 and missed just one game. Two weeks later, in Washington, he was supposed to be just an observer, but ended up coaching the game.
-10-10-2005 #2Tailgage-Mayor Guest
Re: Full Martz Article
If Martz is seriously ill, I wish him the best on his road to recovery. Serious health issues put things in perspective, football is just a game.
We will rally around Joe Vitt, and we will play good football!
Re: Full Martz Article
Get well, Mike. The team is gonna miss you.
Let's see how this straight-talking no-bullsh*t coach Vitt does. Steve Fairchild has been learning under Martz long enough to know how to call a game.
-10-10-2005 #4jkramsfan Guest
Re: Full Martz Article
Get Better Coach