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"Marty: The Man Who Refused To Punt"

Legendary football and basketball coach

December 16, 2010
By REGINA M. ANGELI, Books Writer

If you are a middle-aged sports fan from Wisconsin or Minnesota, you almost certainly have memories of the irrepressible Coach Marty Crowe.

Andrew F. Martin has written a biography of this extraordinary individual, "Marty: The Man Who Refused to Punt." (Digiprint/Neenah, WI, 232 pages)

Martin's work is an in-depth biography of a man of contradictions.

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A pacifist, Crowe was not averse to striking his players for delivering subpar performance.

A devout Catholic, he insisted that the Holy Mass should be shortened to just five minutes and restricted to the Consecration and Communion. He once penned a one minute sermon for a priest.

Needless to say, the congregation loved it. He once rallied his players at halftime by having Benediction held in the locker room.

His outspoken ideas on social reform and civil rights were far too progressive for his critics, but Crowe was not a man to backdown from liberal ideals.

As an orator, he was well-prepared in college, where he was regarded as being the Demosthenes of his debate team which included Patrick J. Lucey, a future governor of Wisconsin.

His coaching style could be positively theatrical.

At times, particularly on the football field, things resembled a comedy, with his "wide-open" offense which called for reverses, double-reverses and a variety of trick plays, including one which had two men stand over center in the quarterback position to confuse the opposing defense.

In a game against Menasha St. Mary's, his team turned the ball over on downs eight times rather than punt (hence, the title of this book) and still managed to win 18-12.

He was fiercely independent and not one to be a slave to time.

As head coach, he would sometimes show up late, even for his own games.

A contest against a Coach Crowe team promised its share of high drama, as in the epic 1973 basketball regional final between his JFK Prep team and De Pere Abbot Pennings, a game this reviewer still recalls with great affection.

Crowe's team lost, but it was the proverbial "barn burner."

There was a tragic element in Marty Crowe's life, revolving around his relationship as father and coach to his son Mickey, whose struggles with substance abuse and mental illness derailed a promising basketball career.

JFK Prep, Premontre and Abbot Pennings high schools no longer exist, but,

the exciting athletic contests they generated will long live in the memories of their fans.

Adrian Martin has penned a lively and moving account of one of the area's most colorful coaches - Marty Crowe.

Thanks for the memories!



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