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  • Wecome to the Big Top

    Dissension in Ranks

    Wednesday, December 29, 2004

    By Ray Ratto
    Special to
    Mike Martz has always been accused of having one of those faces that rubs folks the wrong way. It looks a little too smug, or it looks a little too bemused at the wrong time, or it just looks a little too, well, square.

    Call it the Rick Adelman Syndrome. He's gotten the same critique for years despite a series of successful non-championship teams in Portland and Sacramento.

    Anyway, back to Martz. And not really about his face, either. It's more about his coaching, or his manner, or the fact that the St. Louis Rams have almost always been accused of underachievement during his watch. He just isn't one of those popular coaches who gets the benefit of the doubt, and those who don't seize on his body of work seize on his manner.

    But this Kyle Turley thing ... well, this is just plain strange.

    It seems that Martz told a reporter that his talented but volatile guard wasn't fully devoted to rehabbing his surgically repaired back. It further seems that Turley reportedly threatened to, well, kill Martz. And it further seems that Martz reportedly called NFL Security to report the threat.

    We use "seems" and "reportedly" here because Martz and Turley both deny the story. All we know is there is a report that something seems to have happened.

    And what this tells us is this:

    Someone really wants Mike Martz' hinder on a plaque.

    Let's take the best-case-scenario first. If the death threat part of the story isn't true, then the person (or people) who told the story to the St. Louis Post Dispatch have a reason for telling it, and that is not helpful to Martz on any level, even though his owner and club president have both said he will not be fired. It brings his relationship with his players into question, and turns the internal politics of the St. Louis locker room into a CourtTV-sized suspicion-fest.

    But if it is ... well, someone really wants Mike Martz' hinder on a plaque.

    The blow-up between the two happened more than two weeks ago, on Dec. 13, and remained between the two until Tuesday night when Martz felt compelled to tell his side of the story, denial included.

    In other words, this baby's been festering awhile, and someone felt compelled to air it out a few days before the Rams' biggest game of another disappointing year.

    The timing is what gets you, you see. This came a few days after Martz was greenlighted for another year by both John Shaw and his imperial superior, Georgia Frontiere. And because Martz is such a hot button topic both in Archtown and across the league, only a fool wouldn't suspect something else is up here.

    Yes, Martz has had what by any analysis can be considered an odd career as head coach, all the way up to that laughing fit he had at the end of the first half Monday night. He does stuff that goes against the grain, says things that brush up against the code, and in a hundred little ways make folks go, "Huh?"

    And through all of it, he knows that Shaw and more importantly Frontiere have his back. They took it up again just the other day, and that was before the Rams beat Eagles Lite.

    So how does this story break right after that? There is the possibility that someone decided to tattle on Turley in hopes of getting the Rams out from beneath his contract, or at least his presence, although as we saw it took nearly a year for the Golden State Warriors to be shed of Latrell Sprewell after he gave P.J. Carlesimo the five-fingered turtleneck.

    That seems far less likely, though, than the alternative, in which a disgruntled person either inside the organ-eye-zation or close to Turley clearly dropped a dime, and the only conceivable reason is to put Martz into yet another shirt too tight for his neck.

    It may not work, if Shaw and Frontiere are as good as their reported word. Like it or not, Martz may be the gift that keeps on giving.

    But say this: The next "weirdest story ever" about Mike Martz is going to be downright bizarre, because this one beats all the others that preceded it -- whether or not it happened at all.

    Lately it seems that this organization has gone from the circus atmosphere of the GSOT days to just a plain old circus.
    Clannie Nominee for ClanRam's Thickest Poster

  • #2
    Re: Wecome to the Big Top

    It seems that Martz told a reporter that his talented but volatile guard wasn't fully devoted to rehabbing his surgically repaired back
    IMO, if an injured player under contract, isn't rehabing at the team's facilities, I would get the same opinion. Why isn't he on the sidelines during the game? Why isn't he helping his teammates on the O-line develop?

    I say, dump him.

    Adm. William "Bull" Halsey


    • #3
      Re: Wecome to the Big Top

      I agree, dump him, I thought it was a weird signing when it was first announced.


      • #4
        Re: Wecome to the Big Top

        If we dump him we take a cap hit and as we have seen; we have no one to replace him.


        • #5
          Re: Wecome to the Big Top

          Wins & losses are the real bottom line here, but the Rams & the Horns are being thrown to the dogs, by the way whomever in the organization is allowing this crap to happen. Georgia, Shaw, Zigmunt (spelling), & Martz are all at fault for letting this team be the laughing stock of the league, any league. My loyalty is to the RAMS period. Players, coaches, owner, will come and go but THOSE HORNS and all they represent to me, is larger than all of them. In the 90's we were a laughing stock for our win/loss record, now we're just a laughing stock.



          • #6
            Re: Wecome to the Big Top

            C'mon... I am wating for a Matzite to really defend the blockhead. IMO - they both need to go! I was never a Turley fan even though he has talent.

            Even if this stuff is half true Martzie is making a mess out of the players and the team.

            The guy cannot motivate the team. We see it play after play, game after game, season after season.



            • #7
              Re: Wecome to the Big Top

              YET ANOTHER reason to despise this putrid excuse for a head coach and leader of men. He is being laughed at and mocked NATION WIDE today. What a PROUD MOMENT for all Ram fans. Im sure the team will be as well prapared and motivated as they were in last years season ender.
              "You people point your 'f'in' finger and say theres the bad guy....what that make you....good?" Tony Montana


              Related Topics


              • Nick
                Hadley on Martz (long and pretty good)
                by Nick
                Wednesday, December 22
                17:20:54 CST


                PART ONE


                Rarely does a week pass during the waning months of a given calendar year without Dick Vermeil becoming the topic of conversation.

                Vermeil has become the modern day Whitey Herzog. The blemishes of his tenure as coach of the St. Louis Rams have been precisely masked by much of the media and fans.

                Until this past MLB season, there was an annual plea for “Whitey’s Return.” Despite the fact that Herzog failed to reach the playoffs in consecutive years, despite enduring some horrendous seasons while holding the reins, despite conceding a season to the New York Mets in May and despite quitting on his team and players in the end… Whitey is a local legend whose memory is etched into the cranium of Cardinals fans with positive connotations.

                Vermeil, who was crucified, by media and fans after the 1998 season, miraculously transformed into an adorable mentor with a heart. Vermeil won over the fans and media only after tasting from the cup of success. Before the 1999 season, Vermeil was classified as an emotional wreck. He drove his players too hard. He refused to change with the times, he stuck by certain players and coaches to a fault, he was too focused on crunching statistics, and had lost touch with “the game.”

                After winning the 1999 Super Bowl, those in the media (and fans) that called for his dismissal after the ’98 campaign were preaching from the Vermeil Bible. Suddenly, Vermeil was the prophet sent down by the God’s in football Valhalla. The same media and fans that took him to task just 12 months earlier were now delivering roses to Rams Park in eulogy after he announced his retirement.

                Entering the 2004 season, regardless of nearly upsetting a superior Atlanta Braves team in the 1996 NL playoffs, earning three playoff trips in four years… Tony LaRussa was grilled and heckled because he didn’t win enough, he didn't win the right way, he played the game differently than “Whitey” and happened to have an eclectic lifestyle with the audacity to provide care for animals instead of blowing a frickin’ hole into creators and gutting them on weekends.

                Seven weeks removed from leading his team to the World Series, LaRussa is being painted very differently, by the same media and fans that called for his lynching on several occasions, all for winning just one more series than he had in two of the previous four seasons.

                Like LaRussa, Martz must not only succeed to earn respect, he must overcome the memory of a legend. The legend of Dick Vermeil. To be more exact, the memory of the “99 Vermeil" (not to be confused with the same man going by the same name wearing the same headsets that strolled the...
                -12-22-2004, 10:56 PM
              • RamWraith
                Mort on Martz
                by RamWraith
                From Chris Mortensen--

                Best wishes to Martz

                Here are best wishes and prayers for Rams coach Mike Martz's speedy recovery as he battles a bacterial infection serious enough to put him in a hospital and place him on indefinite leave.

                When I spoke to Martz on Saturday morning he was actually optimistic, feeling better after getting an IV dose of antibiotics. But his health again proved to be a roller-coaster ride -- and an impatient Martz tried desperately to get his doctors' attention.

                "I was feeling so bad that I told them that if they didn't find out what's wrong with me soon, I'd have to resign [as coach]," Martz said.

                The idea of resignation wasn't the point -- his health was the urgent issue. He finally was ordered to a hospital on Monday, and some in St. Louis have even wondered whether it would be best for all concerned if he did, in fact, resign. I have to disagree with that notion, provided the doctors get him well.

                The Rams' coach has been an enigmatic lightning rod for controversy because of his unorthodox game management style. He's also the coach who dumped Super Bowl hero Kurt Warner and clashed with ex-tackle Kyle Turley.

                Even though I've had my disagreements with Martz, I know him well enough to vouch for him as a really good man. Good husband, good father, good son … he has been all of that. And as unorthodox as he might be perceived as being, he is, without question, one of the most innovative coaches of this era.

                We would miss him if he ever left.
                -10-14-2005, 06:48 AM
              • RamWraith
                The Martz era may end soon in quiet divorce
                by RamWraith
                By Bryan Burwell
                ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

                The last time I saw him, Mike Martz stood on a slight hill just behind his sprawling home in the St. Louis suburbs, looking out at the glorious autumn view that spread out in front of him. As he walked down the tree-lined path full of vibrant fall color toward a shimmering lake, the Rams' unappreciated genius, controversial mad scientist and head-coach-in-exile chatted dreamily as if he had at long last discovered Shangri-La.

                "We just love this place," Martz said as he proudly pointed to all the landscaping details along the path. "We're putting a tackle box down here on the dock so that the kids can come here anytime and go fishing. We've got a few more things we'd like to do back here to make this place real special."

                As always, Mike Martz saw things the rest of us couldn't. He sounded like a man who would be staying here for a lifetime, even as most of his visitors raised a few eyebrows at all this talk of long-term living from a man we all knew was working in a short-term world.

                Back in October, Martz figured he would be on sick leave for only a few weeks, then back on the sidelines to handle his business and defiantly battle against the tide of discontent that has been swirling around him for his entire head-coaching career in this town. That is the way Martz should have finished up his career here in St. Louis, forever battling against all his real and imagined enemies with his distinctive style of pride and genius, arrogance and attitude, boldness and bravado.

                But it appears more and more that Martz will not get a chance to go down in a blaze like an old gunslinger. The longer you watch the behind-the-scenes machinations at Rams Park, the more you know that the Mike Martz era will soon end quietly over a conference table with lawyers and accountants negotiating the inevitable buyout.

                And that will be my greatest disappointment, because I'll never get to see what a healthy Martz would have done in his final season with the Rams. I wanted to see him with the ball in his hands on the final drive, not standing on the sidelines while the other guys ran out the clock.

                Illness has robbed him of that opportunity to save his job in a fast and furious finish, or crash and burn in spectacular fashion by thumbing his nose at all sorts of football convention, rankling his conspiratorial bosses, spiting his many detractors and creating one more improbable, eccentric chapter to this strange saga in Rams history.

                We have been flipping ahead of a lot of pages in this book lately, scribbling down new tales, imagining various plot twists and discussing all the candidates to be his successor. It gave the impression that we were all trying to shove Martz out the door, when the truth was most of us were just facing the inevitable - that his bosses were the actual culprits with...
                -12-09-2005, 02:31 PM
              • RamWraith
                Prisco and Judge talk on Martz
                by RamWraith
                With the health concerns, will Mike Martz will ever coach the Rams again?

                ANSWER (Clark Judge):
                "No, and I say that knowing how much Martz would like to return. But the guy's out a minimum of six weeks, with people close to the Rams telling me it could be anywhere from six months to a year. "You know what that tells me?" said one source. "He's not coming back." I agree. The Rams are sensitive to Martz's situation, making Joe Vitt the interim coach while Martz deals with a heart condition that has him hospitalized, but this is a club that declined Martz's request for a contract extension prior to the season. I know Mike and like him, but his tenure was marked by fissures within the organization -- with some parties all but declaring war on him. Removing him from the scene benefits all parties: Mike gains the needed rest -- both from the game and his critics -- and the Rams gain a welcome truce in the front office. "

                (From Pete Prisco)
                "That's a tough question. The No. 1 priority is for Martz to get healthy. Forget about football for now, he has far more pressing issues. Football is important, but it's not life or death. There is no set timetable for his return, but we've heard reports that he'd be out for six weeks. That's a long time to be away. Maybe it will give him a different perspective on coaching. Who knows? The thinking before this season was Martz could be in big trouble if the Rams didn't make the playoffs. That's probably still the case. Martz has clashed with members of the front office, which might make any decision come down to them or him. That's something that president John Shaw will decide. But if the Rams go 5-11, how can Martz return next season no matter what -- unless the illness gives him a pass? Maybe, just maybe, it's time for him to go somewhere else and start over. The guy is a brilliant offensive mind, and that's worth a lot on the open market. Bob Lamonte, the top agent for coaches, now represents Martz, and that will help him if he does lose his job. Martz will return to the Rams at some point this season if he's capable, but how long he continues will be an issue that will be decided in January."
                -10-13-2005, 06:35 AM
              • ramavenger
                Martz rumors unnerved team
                by ramavenger
                Martz rumors unnerved team
                By Jim Thomas
                Of the Post-Dispatch

                St. Louis Rams head coach Mike Martz
                (Alan Diaz/AP)

                Story continues below adMike Martz was getting ready to board the team bus Saturday afternoon for the drive to Lambert Airport and the flight to Arizona when he got a call from ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

                "He wanted to know if there was any chance that I wouldn't be here next year," Martz said.

                As in fired or resigned. Martz said no, he didn't plan on resigning and didn't think he was about to be fired.

                "If it were true, then you deal with it, that's fine," Martz said. "But when it's not true, it's just maddening and aggravating."

                Martz said he didn't know until after the Rams' 31-7 loss to Arizona that Mortensen reported Sunday morning that Martz could be in trouble at the end of this season.

                But with the Rams playing a late game against the Cardinals, apparently several players watched or heard about the report on television in their hotel rooms.

                "So the players were very, very concerned and upset when they got on the bus to go to this game," Martz said. "Well, that was a nice, warm, fuzzy way to play a game. I didn't know about it till after the game, because nobody wanted to tell me."

                Martz said that after the game "a couple of the (assistant) coaches had relayed the concern from players. ... It was an emotional thing before the game for some guys. I'm very close to some of these guys.

                "It was very divisive, destructive and did hurt this football team. Not because they love me or anything else like that. It's just disruptive. Guys are always worried about their future. But (assistant) coaches are worried about it, too."

                Just to make sure, Martz said he spoke with team owner Georgia Frontiere and club president John Shaw about his status after the Sunday report.

                "Georgia was very encouraging," Martz said.

                Shaw told the Post-Dispatch on Monday that Martz had the "complete support" of the organization, and that the possibility of firing Martz "totally hasn't entered my mind."

                When Martz addressed the team at a meeting Monday, he told them he was not resigning and was in no danger of being fired.

                On Thursday, Martz said Shaw's words of support helped a great deal.

                "The one thing that's been constant for me in my tenure here, that's never wavered, has been John Shaw," Martz said. "Everything he says is absolutely the way it is. So I feel at peace with all that. He knows we're busting our butts trying to get this thing done. He knows the issues that we have, and what we're dealing with. He understands all those things. And he's trying...
                -12-24-2004, 05:41 AM