Monday, October 10, 2005

Martz to leave Rams indefinitely

By JIM SALTER, Associated Press Writer
October 10, 2005
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Mike Martz is out indefinitely as coach of the St. Louis Rams while he recovers from a bacterial infection near his heart.
Rams president John Shaw said in a statement Monday that Martz would be admitted to a hospital.
``As a result of his condition, he will be unable to perform his head coaching responsibilities for an indefinite period of time,'' Shaw said.
Assistant head coach Joe Vitt will lead the team in Martz's absence.
The announcement came five days after Martz, 54, announced he was being examined for endocarditis, a bacterial infection of the lining of the heart or a heart valve. Martz said at the time that further testing was needed to confirm the ailment, which in some cases can cause require open-heart surgery to correct.
Martz said he has been ill for four or five weeks and had missed two practices last week while undergoing tests for the infection, which had worsened. He began taking antibiotics Friday and was on the sideline for the Rams' 37-31 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, dropping St. Louis to 2-3.
Martz said after the game that in retrospect, he should have allowed offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild to run the show.
``I wasn't myself this week, the game plan wasn't clear for me,'' Martz said. ``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.
Now in his sixth season, Martz is 56-36 including the postseason. The Rams have missed the playoffs just once in his tenure (2002) and reached the Super Bowl after the 2001 season, losing 20-17 to New England.
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.