TAMPA — Tim Marcum, who led the Tampa Bay Storm to three championships and was the winningest coach in Arena Football League history, died Thursday at a hospice in Citrus County.
“Anybody that knew Coach Marcum knew he was larger than life,” Bill Wickett, executive vice president of marketing and communications for the Tampa Bay Lightning, said Thursday. “He lived and breathed the Arena Football League and the Tampa Bay Storm. … He sold the game more than anybody else. That's a huge legacy.”
Marcum, 69, had been in failing health for several months, Wickett said.
Marcum, a former college football quarterback at McMurry University under Grant Teaff, began coaching the Storm in 1995 after collecting an AFL championship with the Denver Dynamite and three with the Detroit Drive. In 16 years with the Tampa Bay Storm, Marcum racked up a 156-79 record while winning three championships.
Marcum finished with a career record of 211-99.
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of Coach Marcum,” new Tampa Bay Storm coach and former player Lawrence Samuels said in a prepared statement. “I had the privilege and honor of playing for him during my career and we shared many fond memories. Not only was he my coach, but he was also a friend. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones.”
Samuels was a member of each of the Marcum-led championship Storm teams (1995, 1996, 2003) and played 14 of his 15 years under Marcum.
Jason Dixon, program director for the Detroit Sports 105.1 radio station, served as a radio analyst for the Tampa Bay Storm from 1997-2009. His relationship with Marcum grew into a friendship over the years.
He said Marcum's candor and willingness to answer every question that came his way was all in the name of growing the league he had been a part of since it began in 1987.
“Above all, he wanted the game of arena football to succeed, and he knew one of the ways to get that done was to educate to the media, and to do that he had to be open and honest about what happened,” Dixon said. “In trying to make arena football better, he decided it was best he be open with the media and take that extra time to explain what happened in a game to everybody.''
Marcum resigned in February 2011, just before the season began, amid allegation he forwarded pornographic and racist emails. Although a deposition showed he admitted to doing so, Marcum maintained he did nothing wrong.
“I didn't send any emails,” he said during a February 2011 interview. “These emails were over seven years and they were not off my machine, they were off of a server, so whether I deleted them or whatever I did, that came from another source.”
He went on to serve as an assistant with the Orlando Predators (2011) and New Orleans VooDoo (2012).
Marcum was named the league's Coach of the Year in 1987 and 1998 and was inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame in 1988. He also received the Outstanding Achievement Award in 2004 from the American Football Coaches Association.
Marcum remains the only coach in the history of the league to guide three different franchises to ArenaBowl appearances.
Jon Gruden, the "Monday Night Football" analyst and former coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders, released a statement Thursday calling Marcum's death “a big loss for football and anyone who knew him.'' Marcum had coached Gruden's brother, Jay Gruden.
“I consider him the founder of the Arena League and he created a lot of opportunities for a lot of people,'' Gruden said. “Today's news is surprising and shocking. He knew his football and helped create a game that is still popular today. He did it the hard way, the Tim Marcum way. In my mind, he's a legend in this town.”
Marcum is survived by his wife, Lynn Marcum; their four daughters, Kendra Hurrell and Carly Hurrell, Michelle Marcum and Mitzi Brenner; a brother, Jim Marcum; a sister, Sandy Peters; grandchildren Austin Anderson, Bryce and Max Brenner and many nieces and nephews.