Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Friday, February 03, 2006

Another case of Honolulu Blue balls

So how do you go from done to none in just a couple of hours? By the time reports of Mike Martz signing a contract with the Lions hit the airwaves, rumblings began to circulate that it wasn't a done deal. Very soon after that, the negotiations fell apart and Martz walked away to spend a year with his wife.

Apparently, the dispute was over money. According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Martz wanted a minimum salary of $1.5 million a year. It's not clear what the Lions offered in return. Maybe we can blame Daniel Snyder and the Washington Redskins for setting the market for top assistants so high. Both Al Saunders and Gregg Williams will be paid at least $2 million per season to run the Redskins' offense and defense, respectively.

Was it an issue of control or power? Probably not. According to ESPN's John Clayton, the Lions had agreed to let Martz bring on three of his assistants from St. Louis. (And maybe one of those coaches would have taken over the offense had Martz only been in Detroit for one season.) But who knows, maybe Martz was intimidated once he saw how Rod Marinelli planned to clean up the team, and figured he wouldn't have the authority he wanted.

If there's any good to be taken from this, I suppose Lions fans could try to console themselves with the sky-high praise that Martz gave Marinelli on his way out the door. Martz called his dealings with Marinelli "exceptional" and said he and the Lions' head coach would've worked well together.

"I think he's going to be a superstar," Martz said to the Associated Press. "Everybody's got talent, nice facilities and all those kinds of things, but who you work with is critical and that was a big plus."

It's difficult to say the Lions might be better off. Martz playing with this team's offensive toys could've been a beautiful marriage. This was the "what if" that so many of us had dreamed about after suffering through Steve Mariucci's sideways offense. Joey Harrington and Charles Rogers might have experienced career revivals in Martz's system.

But if he was going to bolt after one year and leave Detroit looking for someone else to run the offense, that wouldn't provide the stability and consistency the Lions really need right now. You can't establish an identity if the guy who helped create it leaves before the job might be truly finished.

Until the Lions hire someone else to be their offensive coordinator, however, (Hue Jackson, Cincinnati's wide receiver coach, is a name that's been thrown around the last week or so) I wouldn't say this deal is dead. Negotiations have fallen through and come back together before. (Hell, it happened with Matt Millen.)

Maybe the Lions felt too much pressure to hire Martz during Super Bowl week, while all of the national football media was in Detroit. And after walking away and giving it some thought, Millen and the Fords might decide Martz's price is worth meeting. Or maybe the Lions really did botch this.

What a roller coaster. Who needs Cedar Point when the Lions give you all the wicked twister you need during the winter?


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