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  1. #1
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    Likely infection could sideline Martz

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    10/05/2005


    Rams coach Mike Martz is believed to have a bacterial infection of a heart valve, a condition known as endocarditis. That could affect his ability to coach the team not just this week, but throughout this season.

    "The most important thing clearly is the man's health, and what is the extent of the problem," Rams president of football operations Jay Zygmunt said early Wednesday evening.

    But what if Martz, 54, is unable to coach the team in Sunday's NFC West showdown against rival Seattle?

    "That'll be addressed when we have to address it," Zygmunt said.

    Martz, who missed practice last Friday with what was termed a sinus infection, was absent for Wednesday's practice at Rams Park and will miss today's practice as well.

    In a strange twist, Martz actually broke the news of his illness to Seattle reporters in a conference call.

    "I haven't been feeling good for four or five weeks, and there is some type of infection in my body that has gotten worse," Martz told Seattle reporters. "They think they've identified what it is."

    According to Martz, team physician Douglas Pogue told him that Pogue "suspects" Martz has endocarditis, but that the diagnosis cannot be confirmed for a number of days until a series of blood tests are concluded.

    "This is something that if you let it go, it could become a real issue," Martz said. "They feel very confident that's what it is, but they have to confirm it."

    Neither Martz nor Pogue was made available to reporters in St. Louis on Wednesday. But later in the day, Pogue released a statement cautioning that a definitive diagnosis of Martz's condition has yet to be established, adding that an extensive medical workup is ongoing through Pogue and other consulting physicians.

    Endocarditis is an uncommon, but not rare, infection.

    "You get an infection, and then the bacteria adheres to the heart valve," said Greg Ewald, an associate professor of medicine in Washington University's cardiovascular division. "And that sort of causes turbulent blood flow and more chance for bacteria to kind of glom onto this thing. It basically is a focus of infection that doesn't go away easily unless you treat it with intravenous antibiotics."

    The condition normally requires long-term use of antibiotics - four to six weeks, or more - but in more severe cases requires valve replacement.

    It can be triggered by something as seemingly harmless as having your teeth cleaned, in which case the normal bacteria in the mouth get into the blood stream. A sinus infection can be a source. As can surgery. Martz underwent disc replacement surgery in March. But it's more common in people with heart conditions.

    Martz hasn't felt well since right before the regular-season opener Sept. 11 in San Francisco. But endocarditis isn't always easy to diagnose.

    "It's one of those things where if it's kind of a low-grade bacteria that's not very aggressive, it can kind of sit there and be kind of a smoldering infection for a while," Ewald said. "It's not terribly uncommon that people can feel bad, have intermittent fevers. You get treated for other things. Oral antibiotics can suppress it, but not necessarily get rid of it."

    The condition can lead to fatigue, something Martz has experienced frequently in stretches over the last month.

    "It's kind of like when you have a case of the flu, or any kind of other bacterial infection," Ewald said. "It just kind of wears you out. You feel worn down. You feel tired. You don't have all the stamina that you'd like to have."

    But Ewald added, "With just a few days to several days of antibiotics, he'll probably feel a lot better than he's been feeling the last few weeks if this has kind of been smoldering for a while. So he may be kind of at the low point right now."

    During the season, it is not unusual for coaches to spend 16 to 18 hours a day preparing for that week's game. Martz has a foldout couch in his office for nights when he wants to sleep at Rams Park. He's in the process of having a shower installed adjoining his office.

    The severity of Martz's condition, again assuming the final diagnosis is indeed endocarditis, will have a lot to say about how many hours Martz can put in each day.

    "A six-week course of antibiotics is fairly typical for this," Ewald said. "A lot of the antibiotics can be given twice a day. It takes half an hour to an hour to run in the dose, and so you may take one early in the morning and one later at night.

    "Until the infection really is under control, I think it's going to be hard for him to keep the kind of pace that those guys have to keep. So he'll need some help or some reduction in his usual routine."

    Such a reduction already is taking place at Rams Park. According to assistant head coach-linebackers coach Joe Vitt, who supervises practice in Martz's absence, Martz scripted Wednesday's practice before leaving Rams Park for further medical tests and rest.

    "He set the practice format," Vitt said. "We're just carrying it out. He's going to see (the practice) on film and critique it on film."

    If for some reason Martz is unable to coach on game days, offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild almost certainly would call the plays. Defensive coordinator Larry Marmie would run the defense, as usual.

    But running back Marshall Faulk, for one, would have to see it to believe it if Martz isn't on the sidelines Sunday.

    "I don't know why we're talking about this," Faulk said. "There's no way he's not going to be there. Let's be real. There's no possibility that exists other than death for him not to be there. He'll be there. That's it."


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    Re: Likely infection could sideline Martz

    "I don't know why we're talking about this," Faulk said. "There's no way he's not going to be there. Let's be real. There's no possibility that exists other than death for him not to be there. He'll be there. That's it."
    That just shows how his players love him.


  3. #3
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    Re: Likely infection could sideline Martz

    Or that MM is either hard headed or he has love for the game

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    Re: Likely infection could sideline Martz

    Quote Originally Posted by talkstoangels61
    Or that MM is either hard headed or he has love for the game
    The Ram players love Martz.Eventhough I'm curious on how Joe Vitt Might perform as h. coach in Mike's absents.
    My heart beats crazy and my blood runs wild

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    Re: Likely infection could sideline Martz

    You can't deny Martz' dedication or the fact that his players do love him. I'll tell you this, I think the team will be at a fever pitch emotionally and will play like men possessed. The Seahawks picked the wrong week to play the Rams.

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    Re: Likely infection could sideline Martz

    It's ALWAYS a good week to play the Rams.

    Hopefully Martz is OK. I think he's a far better O coordinator than head coach, but he's kinda endearing in an insane sorta way.

    But I don't think the ol' "win one for the gipper" thing is going to work this time.

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    Re: Likely infection could sideline Martz

    Quote Originally Posted by bluengreen
    It's ALWAYS a good week to play the Rams.

    Hopefully Martz is OK. I think he's a far better O coordinator than head coach, but he's kinda endearing in an insane sorta way.

    But I don't think the ol' "win one for the gipper" thing is going to work this time.
    Keep thinkin' that bluengreen. I started this week thinking the Seahawks were in a strong position to break the Ram mojo, but I have done a complete 180. I'm convinced the Ram players will come out of that tunnel with a vengeance and pound the Seahawks into submission. This is NOT the week to try and mess with the Rams, mark my words.

  8. #8
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    Re: Likely infection could sideline Martz

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike
    You can't deny Martz' dedication or the fact that his players do love him. I'll tell you this, I think the team will be at a fever pitch emotionally and will play like men possessed. The Seahawks picked the wrong week to play the Rams.
    I agree wholeheartedly. Remember how the Falcons responded when Dan Reeves had his heart problems in 1998? They went on to the SB that season. Here's to the Rams making MM a proud "Papa"!
    [SIGPIC]http://www.stickershoppe.com/mm5/graphics/00000001/MLRPANCmini.jpg[/SIGPIC]This is for Randy! GO BRM!

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