Martz's behavior puts Lions on alert


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Jan 22, 2006
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Martz's behavior puts Lions on alert
Sunday, February 05, 2006
By Tom Kowalski

DETROIT -- If you're a little puzzled by the ongoing Mike Martz saga, you're not alone. Members of the Detroit Lions front office have spent the last week wondering what the colorful coach was going to come up with next -- and they didn't always find his shenanigans amusing.

The latest "news" is that Martz, the former St. Louis Rams head coach and acknowledged offensive wizard, is reconsidering the Detroit Lions' offer to become their offensive coordinator.

It has been reported that the Lions, after being rebuffed by Martz on Thursday, contacted him on Friday and asked him to re-think the situation.

The only problem is that none of it is true. In fact, nearly everything coming out of the Martz camp in the last week has either been a fabrication or exaggeration of the truth.

First of all, it was Martz who contacted Lions head coach Rod Marinelli on Friday, not the other way around. And, while Martz is trying to paint the picture that the Lions are being inconsistent with their approach to hiring him, that's not the case at all.

Here's what's happened in the last week: Martz told the media that he was going to make his decision last Monday of whether to take Detroit's offensive coordinator job, but that wasn't accurate because the Lions were actually pursuing somebody else at the time.

After failing to land Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Tom Moore on Monday (the Colts wouldn't let him out of his contract), the Lions brought Martz in for an interview on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Marinelli addressed the media and spoke highly of Martz and also said he wanted time to think it over before he decided if he would hire Martz. On Thursday, Martz said he backed out of the deal because the Lions wouldn't pay him the money he wanted, presumably $1.5 million per year.

Money was never an issue because Marinelli still hadn't come to the conclusion that he wanted to hire Martz. Bailing out isn't unusual behavior for Martz, who recently had his named removed from consideration for the Oakland Raiders head coaching job -- after he knew he wasn't going to get it.

The Lions were more than a little irritated at Martz for trying to paint them as cheapskates. Money has never been a barrier for the team when it comes to paying the coaches they want (see: Steve Mariucci).

Now Martz, apparently realizing he painted himself into a corner, is trying to save face again by making it appear that it's the Lions who are desperately trying to reel him in. If that's true, Marinelli has a funny way of showing it because he's expected to interview several other coordinator candidates in the next week or so.

Is Martz a possibility to be the Lions next offensive coordinator? Yes, just like he was on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. As far as the Lions view it, the issues haven't changed at all -- it's been Martz who has given it the appearance of an unsettled situation.

It all comes down to this: Whether Marinelli believes that the positives about Martz greatly outweigh the negatives. His skills as an offensive teacher, innovator and play-caller are unquestioned, but his controversial personality -- the Lions are getting an up-close-and-personal look at that right now -- could have a destructive effect on the team.

If Marinelli believes Martz -- all things considered -- is the best choice, then he'll be offered the job. And money won't be an issue. Martz isn't going to get what he wants -- who does? -- but the contract would be perfectly in line. Two recently hired coordinators, who were head coaches last year (Jim Haslett and Mike Mularkey), each received three-year, $3 million deals. Martz might get more than that, but it won't be outrageous.

The only thing that appears certain in this entire mess is that it's Marinelli who will be making the call and he isn't going to let anything -- or anybody -- force him into a rushed decision.
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