Mike Martz is out indefinitely as coach of the St. Louis Rams with a bacterial infection of the heart.
Martz was told by a specialist yesterday that his condition, which kept him out of two practices last week, had worsened. The 54-year-old has been ill for more than a month and was tested for endocarditis, a bacterial infection of the lining of the heart or a heart valve.
After the Rams' 37-31 loss Sunday to the Seahawks, Martz said he shouldn't have been on the sideline. St. Louis dropped to 2-3.
Assistant head coach Joe Vitt will take over. Martz told his players during a brief but emotional team meeting that he would step aside, Vitt said.
''The team is his concern," Vitt said. ''His health is our No. 1 concern."
Rams president John Shaw said Martz will be hospitalized 4-12 days but would not speculate on the length of his absence. Shaw said he wasn't told the specific name of the illness, but was led to believe that Martz's heart valve had weakened since last week.
''I think he was concerned he was letting down a lot of people, but also had concern about the gravity of the situation," Shaw said.
The antibiotics that Martz began taking Friday didn't seem to help, Shaw said, but he didn't know if any additional procedures would be necessary. Severe cases of endocarditis can require open-heart surgery.
Martz spoke with a raspy voice after Sunday's game but sounded optimistic about his health. Still, he said that in retrospect, he should have allowed offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild to run the show.
''I wasn't myself this week, the game plan wasn't clear for me," Martz said. ''It's over with now but I just feel what happened to me has affected this team, and that breaks my heart."
Martz was first hospitalized Sept. 30 with what was thought to be a sinus infection. He coached two days later during a 44-24 loss to the Giants.
McAllister tears ACLDeuce McAllister likely will miss the remainder of the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in Sunday's blowout loss at Green Bay.
Saints coach Jim Haslett said the running back got a second opinion yesterday in San Antonio. He'll get a third opinion from Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., later this week.
''If that's the case, a torn ligament, he's out for the year," Haslett said. ''I feel bad first of all for Deuce. He's worked hard to get to this point."
McAllister became the leading career rusher for the Saints earlier this season. He's had three straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons plus three straight seasons with 30 or more receptions.
He has rushed for 335 yards and a 3.6-yard average this season with three touchdowns.
The loss of McAllister would strike another blow in the Saints' season. They lost the use of their home stadium when Hurricane Katrina damaged the Superdome in Louisiana. That forced them to move their headquarters to San Antonio and some of their home games to the Alamodome.
On Sunday, the Saints suffered the second-worst loss in team history. The 52-3 defeat at Green Bay is surpassed only by a 62-7 loss during the 1973 season to Atlanta.
''I have a lot of confidence in our team," Haslett said. ''We've overcome a lot in the past year and the last couple of months.
Haslett said McAllister's playing time will be split between Aaron Stecker and former Patriot Antowain Smith.