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Think what you will about Martz; he made football fun in this town
By Bernie Miklasz
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Mike Martz will resurface. He will return to dial up 50 passes a game in another town, for another team, driving his new team's fans crazy. They may be laughing or frowning, cheering or booing, but Martz will move them. This is a coach who gets a reaction. He is many things, but the word "dull" never will be applied in any description of Martz.
"The Greatest Show" goes away, but never completely leaves the imagination. After all, the circus always comes back, and so it will be for Martz, the ringleader of one of the most dazzling offensive productions in NFL history.
Mad Mike still has a few scores to settle, a few more defensive coordinators to torment, and may the football gods have mercy on defenses when this coach clears his head and reloads his offense during a second-chance head-coaching opportunity.
Martz may have to sit out for a while. He may have to go into exile for the 2006 season, to rehabilitate his image and find inner peace, but that may be the best thing for him.
Martz needs time to truly disengage from the grueling experience in St. Louis. Martz's bacterial infection of the heart valve has cleared, and medically he's 100 percent ready to work, but he's still battered emotionally after predictably losing a power struggle with Rams executives John Shaw and Jay Zygmunt.
If Martz doesn't hook up immediately as a head coach, he should view the sabbatical as a precious opportunity to exhale and enjoy life. Martz could take his wonderful wife Julie on a trip around the world, or go on the kind of relaxing, leisurely adventures that are impossible to arrange for a full-time, football-consumed coach.
And a year from now, a completely rested, recharged and refocused Martz would be a hot candidate. His agent, Bob Lamonte, would have no problem marketing the Martz II Project to NFL owners. If you're an NFL owner with a dormant offense that needs to be zapped back to life, how could you resist the reformed Mike Martz? How could you turn away from 30 points a game? Americans love a second act.
Martz is feeling low these days, but he's been through rougher days than this. His alcoholic father bailed on his mom and four brothers when Mike was a kid. Mike survived, maturing sooner than any child should just to help keep the family strong.
After Martz got fired from a coaching gig at Arizona State, he couldn't find another job, so he became an unpaid volunteer assistant to Los Angeles Rams coach Chuck Knox. By then, Mike and Julie had four children, and it wasn't easy. But again, he overcame the hard times.
And Martz will rally again.
During his time as the Rams head coach, I frequently sparred with the media-sensitive Martz. This is a guy who did not hesitate to pick up the phone, dial my number, and rage at me at 7:30 in the morning after reading hostile words directed at him in a column. Martz is also the same benevolent soul who traveled nearly a thousand miles, unannounced, to attend my father's funeral service in Feb. 2003. The coach sat in the back of the church. I wouldn't have known, but my brother spotted him.
This column isn't intended as a dissection of Martz's strengths and weaknesses as a coach. We're all aware of his immense skill as an architect of offense, and we're just as familiar with his flaws. In his final two years as Rams coach, Martz got caught up in political battles at Rams Park. He made some bad choices, made too many mistakes, but he also was wronged by others. In the end, he lost. The constant infighting distracted him, and caused a meltdown. In his next shot, Martz will have to control his emotions.
But as Martz takes his leave, fair and reasonable minds should at least take a moment to pause and reflect on the good times he provided for the NFL fans in St. Louis, before the unraveling.
Dick Vermeil was 9-23 as the Rams' head coach before hiring Martz to run the offense in 1999. From that arrival point, until Martz went on medical leave five games into the 2005 season, this franchise won 65 percent of its games, made the playoffs five times in six seasons, advanced to two Super Bowls, and averaged about 27 points per game.
As the head coach, Martz had a winning percentage of .608, the best of any head coach in St. Louis NFL history. And before 1999, St. Louis NFL teams (Cardinals, Rams) had won 43.6 percent of their games while making the playoffs three times in 32 seasons.
When Martz, quarterback Kurt Warner and halfback Marshall Faulk soared to their professional peaks (1999-2001), we were treated to what may have been the most fantastic display of offense in NFL history: three consecutive seasons of 500 or more points. It was the perfect storm of coaching brilliance and pure athletic talent.
It was a thrill just to drive to the stadium, anticipating Martz's latest mad-genius formations and plays and spectacular eruptions of offense. It was a joy to watch Martz turn his playmakers loose to hang 30 points on overwhelmed defenses.
Until he cracked, Martz transformed football Sundays in St. Louis.
Even his most petty, hateful critics must acknowledge that.
Thanks, Mike, for the memories. It was a wild ride.
-01-05-2006 #2RamsFan16 Guest
Re: Think what you will about Martz; he made football fun in this town
I agree with this guy. You guys may hate Martz or you may like him. But he is the one that put together the 30ppg offense. We will NEVER have that happen again.
Re: Think what you will about Martz; he made football fun in this townEven his most petty, hateful critics must acknowledge that.
Re: Think what you will about Martz; he made football fun in this townOriginally Posted by HUbison