Rams' Martz, Warner credit their faith as part of team's success

Notebook

Religion at forefront for NFC champions

Pace sits out practice

Super Bowl Patriots Vs. Rams

January 31, 2002|By Ken Murray and Jamison Hensley | Ken Murray and Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

NEW ORLEANS -- Religion took center stage at the Super Bowl yesterday when both coach Mike Martz and quarterback Kurt Warner of the St. Louis Rams said faith was a component of the team's success.

The Rams have an unusually high number of players who profess their faith in God.

"My perception of that is that it is a strength," Martz said. "That's how I look at it, certainly, and I think it's how everybody on the team looks at it whether they are involved in that or not.

"That's a very personal issue, and they allow them that space, so to speak."

Warner is a devout Christian who has often used his public platform to witness. He said he didn't feel that the introduction of religion in the locker room had created barriers.

"Obviously, we've got a lot of faith-based guys on the team, not always believing in the same things, but who have a faith base," Warner said. "Guys respect us or respect each other for the beliefs they have. They may not have the same beliefs. And we discuss it and talk about it all the time, but it never alienates people because everybody is sincere in what they believe and they stand for that and respect the other guys."

Injury update

Left tackle Orlando Pace (knee), punt returner Az-Zahir Hakim (ankle) and defensive tackle Jeff Zgonina (elbow) sat out the Rams' two-hour, 35-minute practice at the New Orleans Saints' practice facility yesterday, but all three will play Sunday.

Pace, listed as questionable with a sprained left knee, worked out on an exercise bike for about 20 minutes, wearing a brace. He was replaced by Ryan Tucker during drills.

Tackle Rod Jones, who suffered a strained groin in the NFC championship game, worked at both spots, but mostly on the right side, where he will start.

Warner, nursing sore ribs, took all the team snaps in 11-on-11 work and was sharp. "He's past it all," Martz said. "He's fine."

Reserve safety Rich Coady (ankle) is listed as questionable, and is not expected to play.

Tough task

Pats coach Bill Belichick understands how to prepare for Marshall Faulk. When Faulk was with the Indianapolis Colts, Belichick had to face him twice a season.

So, how did Belichick feel when Faulk was traded from the Colts to the Rams in 1999? "It was one of the happiest days of my life," he said. "I was glad to get rid of him for two games a year."

Super Ryans

This marks the fifth time that a member of the Ryan family has participated in the Super Bowl. The Ryans have made it consecutive seasons, with Ravens defensive ends coach Rex Ryan making it last year and his brother, Rob, extending the tradition as the Patriots' outside linebackers coach this year.

Glenn sues NFL

Patriots receiver Terry Glenn sued the NFL yesterday, saying it discriminated against him for a disability that prevented him from following certain rules in the league's substance abuse policy.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, alleged that since at least 1999 Glenn has had chronic depression, a disability recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Glenn, the Patriots' first-round draft pick in 1996, argued in the lawsuit that he should not have been suspended by the NFL for the first four games of the season for violating the substance abuse policy by missing a drug test.

On Jan. 10, Glenn was suspended by the Patriots for the playoffs after what was described as "multiple unexcused absences."

Remembering Sept. 11

This year's Super Bowl, which has taken a patriotic theme as a result of the tragedies surrounding Sept. 11, will feature a vivid reminder from that day.

An American flag that survived the collapse of the World Trade Center's twin towers will be flown during the singing of the national anthem. According to New York City officials, it was the only U.S. flag flying at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, and it continued to fly at the complex even as the twin towers fell.

Extra points

Marshall Faulk, who led the NFL in total yards and touchdowns this season, won his second straight NFL Player of the Year award. Other finalists for the award, sponsored by Miller Lite, were quarterbacks Warner, Brett Favre of Green Bay, Rich Gannon of Oakland and Kordell Stewart of Pittsburgh and defensive end Michael Strahan of the New York Giants. ... Most Patriots have said that playing on turf favors the speed-oriented Rams, who are 11-2 on artificial surfaces this season. But New England receiver David Patten prefers playing in a dome. "You want perfect conditions. You don't want any excuses." ... As part of the heightened security at this year's event, fans are prohibited from bringing the giant fists, pompons, Frisbees, beach balls, banners, noisemakers and horns.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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