ST. LOUIS — On Friday, the man known as Mad Mike walked through the doors at Rams Park for the first time in eight years.
Former St. Louis Rams coach and offensive coordinator Mike Martz, the architect of the Greatest Show on Turf that delivered two Super Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl championship to the Gateway City, now works as color analyst for Fox television.
Martz, 61, is a member of the broadcast crew doing the Rams' game against the Seahawks at noon Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome. He attended practice and production meetings on Friday.
"I have not been in the building (since)," said Martz, who was fired after a turbulent 2005 season that saw him miss the final 11 games due to a heart infection. "It's different. There are a lot of memories that come back as soon as you walk in. It's a great feeling to come in this building because for the most part the memories were very good."
Martz, who after leaving the Rams served as an offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions (2006-07), the San Francisco 49ers (2008) and the Chicago Bears (2010-11), has started a new chapter in his life as a broadcaster.
"I'm have a lot of fun doing it, I really am," Martz said. "The preparation is more than I thought it was going to be. You feel like you're preparing for a game as a coach, which is fun. I enjoy doing that, looking at the tape. There is just more to doing this stuff than I ever thought or imagined. It's harder than I thought it was going to be."
Martz liked what he saw after watching tape on the Rams under new coach Jeff Fisher.
"I really am excited for Coach Fisher and this new era," Martz said. "Looking at them on tape, they have done a remarkable job here in the offseason with who they have brought in. This team is one of these really ascending teams, and I'm excited for him."
Martz always has had an eye for quarterbacks, and he has a high regard for Rams quarterback Sam Bradford.
"I think he could be an elite player," Martz said. "I am a big Bradford fan. When he came into the league, I didn't know much about him. I wasn't so sure, but what I've seen on tape is, he gets rid of the ball so fast, he's decisive.
"I watch quarterback's helmets all the time, and what he sees with the movement of his helmet and what he can digest and react to is really unusual. The really good ones do what he can do. Protecting him and getting him weapons on the outside is very important, and I think they're starting to do that. I think in the past few years, it has been a little splotchy for him in that respect."
Martz was the Rams' coach when they traded up to select running back Steven Jackson with the 24th overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft.
"Watching him, he's still the same Steven," Martz said. "Terrific receiver, picks up blitzes, very unselfish player. And, you better bring everything you've got when he turns it up field because that's a steamroller coming at you. He has a lot of guys turning down when he starts up field. He still does that very well."
It's appropriate that Martz was assigned a Rams-Seahawks contest since the two teams had an intense rivalry during his tenure in St. Louis.
Martz recalled how the Rams beat the Seahawks three times in the 2004 season. The first time was a 33-27 overtime decision in Seattle, where Rams came back from a 27-10 deficit in the final six minutes.
The Rams later beat the Seahawks 27-20 in a Wild Card playoff game.
"The playoff game was fantastic, but I think that (other) win, other than the Super Bowl, might have been the most exciting and fulfilling one as a head coach," Martz said.
Since Martz's departure, the Rams have beaten the Seahawks only once in 14 meetings.
"We had a special feel for the Seahawks," Martz said. "We had a great rivalry going there. A rivalry means that it was a tussle every time you play, and it was. It came down to the final seconds every time we played them."
Martz is part of a broadcast team that includes play-by-play announcer Ron Pitts and sideline reporter Kristina Pink.
Martz said his greatest challenge as a broadcaster is keeping his comments concise.
"That's probably the biggest issue for me," Martz said. "As a coach, you are trained to see so much, and you have to pare it down and really focus on what's important about that play or what is going on as a general theme in the game. I can get to the point where I am talking so fast that it sounds like I am speaking Chinese."
Martz said he has no plans to return to coaching, but he does miss it.
"Oh yeah, that will always be the case," Martz said. "I think I'll miss that the rest of my life. That was such a integral part of your life for so long, and I enjoyed it so much, that you can not miss that. By the same token, this is a good replacement for me. This is kind of where I am in my life."
Contact reporter Steve Korte at email@example.com or 239-2522.