Martz: ‘I Like to Call this Football in its Purest Sense’

Mike Martz watches on the sidelines during the 2017 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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That is true for San Diego Fleet head coach Mike Martz, and his group of coaches he refers to as “the silverback club.”

It is also true for all of the coaches and players, experienced and inexperienced, on The Alliance’s eight teams that are spread out in San Antonio for training camp in preparation for the inaugural season that kicks off Feb. 9. The Fleet will visit the San Antonio Commanders for their season opener that will be televised on CBS at 8 p.m. ET.

Martz, who is 67, includes himself in the Fleet group of “old warriors” that average slightly over 69 years old and have a combined 80 years of college coaching experience and another 59 in the NFL: defensive coordinator Larry Marmie, 76; special teams/linebackers coach Larry MacDuff, 70; and offensive line coach Pat Morris, 65. MacDuff and Marmie even coached with the Las Vegas Locomotives in the United Football League. When Marmie was head coach at Arizona State from 1988-91, Martz was on his offensive staff, and later Martz hired him as defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams in 2004.

“If you want these young players to get the best teaching, you go out and find the best teachers,” Martz said. “Four guys that have been around a long time teaching the details and the younger guys can cover the bases there, too. It’s a great mix for us on this staff.”

Those young(er) coaches include former NFL players Jon Kitna, offensive coordinator; Lamont Jordan, running backs; receivers coach Az-Zahir Hakim, who played in Martz’s offense during the Rams’ Greatest Show on Turf seasons; Anthony Becht, tight ends; Vince Amey, defensive line; and Eric Allen, defensive backs. Matt Kitna, who is Jon’s brother, didn’t play in the NFL and coached high school basketball before coaching football in high school. He will assist Morris with the offensive line.

Said Martz, “Those were good players in the league (NFL) that have another dimension to teaching that even coaches that have coached for a long time don’t have, and that gives another perspective. That can only help them.”

But Martz can’t help but gravitate back to the quartet he put together.

“I’m very proud of all these guys,” he said. “These guys were retired They’ve got other things they could be doing right now. It’s not the money certainly. But this is a way for us all to give back to this game a little bit.”

He surely appreciates what The Alliance is all about. When the former Rams head coach is asked if the lure for him is simply the love of the game, he agrees and then adds, “I like to call this football in its purest sense. Nobody’s going to make a big paycheck, there’s not a big splash here, it’s so pure. It’s s like college, but there’s no boosters, there’s no scholarships; it’s just football. I love that part of it. I think the guys that are attracted to this are our kind of guys.”