Martz: Controversy won't be factor in decision

Updated: February 10, 2004, 7:25 PM ET
Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- Mike Martz says he holds no grudge against Kurt Warner for his remarks that his ardent religious beliefs might have been a factor in his benching.

The St. Louis Rams coach wouldn't say Tuesday whether Warner will compete for the job with Marc Bulger, who took his job last season. But he did say the religious controversy will not be a factor.

"I have an idea of where we're headed with that but we've got another three months yet," Martz said. "We'll deal with that at another time."

On Feb. 1, the day of the Super Bowl, Warner was quoted on baptistpress.com as saying "I actually had coaches say I was reading the Bible too much and it was taking away from my play. It was OK when we were winning, but now I was (messing) this thing up? People were saying I had lost my job because of my faith."

Warner later said in a statement: "It was my intention to give an inspirational message about keeping the faith and fighting through adversity. I simply wanted to encourage people to stay true to themselves in good times and bad."

Martz later told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

"That's so far off the wall, it's incomprehensible. I can't imagine Kurt saying that. Nothing could be further from the truth. If he said that, it's a bald-faced lie. I'm just tired of dealing with this type of behavior."

He tempered that Tuesday at a luncheon to welcome four new assistant coaches.

"I don't have an issue with Kurt," Martz said. "I really don't. I know my only concern about any comment by any player is how it reflects on the organization and the rest of the team.

"My relationship with Kurt is not damaged or changed in any way, it's too strong for that. It's just one of those things and it's time to move on."

Bulger became the starter after Warner, a two-time NFL MVP, fumbled six times in a season-opening 23-13 loss to the New York Giants. He led the Rams to a 12-4 record and the NFC West title but threw three interceptions in a playoff loss in double overtime to the Carolina Panthers.

Bulger threw a Pro Bowl record four touchdown passes to lead the NFC to a victory over the AFC on Sunday and was voted the game's MVP. He had gone to the game after being selected as an alternate.

But that won't have much bearing on his future.

"If I had to look at the Pro Bowl and how he played to make a decision on him, I'm not much of a coach I guess, am I?" Martz said. "We've know him intimately for quite some time and I know what he's capable of."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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