Alliance of American Football: Pro football returns to San Diego; Mike Martz named head coach

Posted at 12:07 PM, May 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-01 00:57:39-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Former St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz was introduced Thursday as the coach of San Diego's team in the Alliance of American Football.

The league held a news conference at San Diego County Credit Union Stadium to introduce Martz and the team. The league announced on Tuesday that San Diego would have a team in the eight-team league set to begin play Feb. 9.

Martz, a graduate of San Diego's James Madison High School, coached the Rams from 2000-2005, guiding the team to a 53-32 record, including a berth in Super Bowl XXXVI, where it was upset by the New England Patriots.

After being fired by the Rams, Martz was the offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions from 2006-2007, San Francisco 49ers in 2008 and Chicago Bears from 2010-11.

Before becoming the Rams coach, Martz was the team's offensive coordinator in the 1999 season when they won Super Bowl XXXIV. He had been the Rams quarterbacks coach from 1992-94 when they played at Anaheim Stadium and receivers coach in 1995 and 1996, their first two seasons in St. Louis. Martz was the Washington Redskins quarterbacks coach in 1997 and 1998.

Martz began his coaching career in 1973 at Bullard High School in Fresno. He then coached at San Diego Mesa College, San Jose State, Santa Ana College, Fresno State, the University of the Pacific, the University of Minnesota and Arizona State.

The eight-team league was founded by television and movie producer Charlie Ebersol, a son of television executive Dick Ebersol and actress Susan Saint James, and former NFL executive Bill Polian, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"The Alliance of American Football represents a fundamental shift in the way we approach professional sports," said Ebersol, the league's CEO. "We believe fans and players are what's most important, so our approach is simple -- we've created an alliance where fans and players share in the success of their teams.

"Players have our commitment that we will seek the highest degree of safety and our support as we continue to invest in their success off the field with post-football career scholarships and financial wellness programs."

The league will have a bonus structure based on victories, statistical milestones and fan engagement. Players will receive post-football scholarships for postsecondary education for every year played in the league and comprehensive post-football career planning and counseling.

Fans will be able to stream games via a free app "while accessing integrated fantasy options with real rewards, for themselves and the players they are cheering on," according to the league.

The league's opener and championship game will be televised by CBS. A game will be carried each week by cable's CBS Sports Network.

The planned eight-team league will operate under a single-entity structure instead of having individuals own teams. The other cities to be awarded teams are Atlanta, Memphis, Tennessee, Orlando, Florida, Phoenix and Salt Lake City.

Teams will have 50-player rosters, built primarily through regionally based allocation which will be made in the fall. Players will be available in markets near where they played in the NFL or college.

"There is a significant amount of football talent looking to begin or extend their professional careers," Polian said. "The Alliance will provide those players with a new opportunity to compete at a high level."

In attempt to increase player safety, the league will not have kickoffs. Instead, teams will start with the ball on their own 25-yard lines to start a game or second half or after allowing a score. Instead of an onside kick, the trailing team will receive the ball on its own 35-yard line, facing fourth down and 10.

To improve the on-field product and telecasts, the league will have a shorter play clock and fewer commercial breaks to create shorter games. Extra-point kicks will be eliminated, with teams required to attempt two-point conversions after every touchdown.