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Thread: So long, at least for now
So long, at least for now
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Mike Martz is gone for the season. But will he be gone for good?
On a day Martz announced he has been advised by his doctor to sit out the rest of the season for health reasons, the infighting continued at Rams Park.
Although Martz said it was his intention to coach the Rams next season, team president John Shaw stopped short of saying Martz would be back in 2006 under any and all circumstances.
When asked Monday if Martz unequivocally would be back in 2006, Shaw said: "There's still some uncertainty about how long it will take him to recover and when he recovers. We will watch as Mike gets better over the next several months.
"We will watch the performance of the team over the next several months, and we'll make decisions at that time as to what's best for Mike, and what's best for the football program. But as I speak to you today, I fully expect that Mike will be our coach next year."
And Martz took umbrage at Shaw's statement Monday that Martz wanted a live phone line brought into the coach's box during Sunday's 28-17 victory over New Orleans so that he could communicate with offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild.
"I did not want an open line to the press box," Martz told the Post-Dispatch. "That would be unfair to Steve. But if I wanted an open line, isn't that my prerogative as head coach? This is all so bizarre."
Martz said that Fairchild called him at halftime to go over a few things. But halftime is only 12 minutes, and between the walk to the locker room, the walk back to the field, and Fairchild addressing the offense in the locker room, there wasn't much time to talk to Martz. So according to Martz, he and Fairchild agreed to talk in the second half.
Martz wanted to remind Fairchild of some thoughts on the red zone offense, and the "four-minute" drill - coaching jargon for the team's offense to run out the clock with the lead late in the game. But when Martz sent Dan Linza, the Rams security director, to the coach's box at the Edward Jones Dome, Linza was prevented from entering by Jay Zymunt, the Rams' director of football operations.
"Jay brought (Linza) to me," Shaw said. "To me, the issue was whether we wanted an outside live phone into the coaches box. I made a decision that it shouldn't be allowed.
"I was under the impression, as was everybody in the organization, that whatever Mike's input would be, he would do that either prior to the game or during the week."
Which was news to Martz. "If that was the desire of the organization - not to have a live phone line - why wouldn't they tell me?" Martz said. "Why would the organization make that decision and not tell me?"
Earlier in his news conference Monday, Shaw said he didn't think it was a distraction for Martz to have input with the coaching staff during his leave of absence.
"Not at all," Shaw said. "I think that his input was helpful to our coaches. And it was basically Mike's team. So I would expect him to have input."
Interestingly, now that he is out for the entire season, Martz said he would no longer have input with the team unless approached first by interim head coach Joe Vitt and members of the coaching staff.
"I'm going to stay out of it completely," Martz said. "It's not fair to these guys and not fair to Joe. I said, 'Joe, call me if you need anything. If I can help in any way.' "
The timing of Martz's "hands-off" announcement seemed curious given the events of Sunday. But Martz said it was his decision to avoid further input, not team management's.
In visiting with his doctor Monday morning, Dr. Victoria Fraser of Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Martz said he was strongly advised not to return to coaching this season.
"She laid it out pretty good this morning," Martz said. "And I was a little stunned."
Martz confirmed Monday that he has been diagnosed with endocarditis, a bacterial infection of the heart valve.
"The way she explained it to me, it took a long time to develop (endocarditis) and a long time to get rid of it," Martz said. "She said I could probably come back in four to six weeks on a part-time basis. And you can't do that as a coach."
Fraser informed Martz that in another month, he could work 10 to 15 hours a week. But Martz decided against having one foot in, and one foot out, at Rams Park.
Martz said he is scheduled to have sinus surgery next week, which is not related to the endocarditis.
Martz has been taking two different antibiotics to treat the endocarditis.
"I take one twice a day, and the other one three times a day," Martz said. "One takes an hour to go in, and one takes five minutes to go in."
Shaw said he was surprised to learn Monday that Martz would be out for the year.
"I met with Mike last Tuesday for about four hours at his house," Shaw said. "I felt at that time that he thought he was coming back after the bye. I think he felt that he was just a couple weeks away. So I was kind of expecting him to come back after the bye."
The Rams' bye week is Nov. 6. That no longer is the case. But Martz said Monday he intends to coach in 2006.
"I'll be coaching next year," said Martz, who has one year left on a five-year, $15 million contract with the Rams. "This is a short-term deal. I just want to make sure I'm fully recovered so that I can be healthy to coach for a lot of years. It's just too much of a risk to come back too soon. That's it in a nutshell."
As to whether he has achieved any assurances from Rams management that he will indeed be back in '06, Martz said, "Well, I'm under contract. I want to be here, obviously. So unless there's something that I don't know, I'll be here."
Re: So long, at least for nowThe timing of Martz's "hands-off" announcement seemed curious given the events of Sunday. But Martz said it was his decision to avoid further input, not team management's.