Tyler Marz is striving to better himself during the pandemic

Tyler Marz has been spending his NFL offseason time at home in Springfield.  The 2011 Springfield High School graduate signed with the Carolina Panthers last December.  He was part of the Panther’s practice squad last year and then they signed a futures contract with him.  Tyler was just about to leave Springfield and head back to Charlotte for offseason activities (OTAs) when COVID-19 hit.

The pandemic put a hold on all local, state and national sporting events.  High school teams cancelled their spring seasons, but national teams have hopes of opening up their seasons later this summer.  The National Baseball Association has plans to open up, with social distancing guidelines in place, around July 4 and the National Football League announced its schedule for the upcoming fall season on May 7.

With the pandemic putting OTAs on hold, Tyler has been in Springfield but communicates virtually with the team.  The Panther organization sent each player an ipad to use for the team two-hour meetings that include training films and playbook updates.  “There is a Kahoot Test each player can do to see how you are handling the team materials—basically showing the coaches what you can do,” Marz said.

Staying connected with the team is important in this virtual offseason.  Marz has communicated with a couple of guys on the Panther squad but they are spread out all over the United States right now.  Group text messages are always part of the team conversation.

Keeping motivated to work out is always a challenge in the offseason, but Tyler continues to put the work in despite not having access to all the tools at his disposal at the team facilities.  “Fortunately the NFL allowed teams to grant each player $1500 for work out equipment, so I’ve been using the little that got me.  I am just keeping busy outside and taking advantage of Sticker Field for cardio and drills.  I split a lot of wood on the side, which uses a lot of different muscles,” Tyler commented.  He usually works out on his own but may have to ask his dad, John, for a bit of help.  He added that we are all very lucky to be in Springfield, rather than a larger city, where we can be outside walking, riding bike and exercising and easily able to social distance and stay safe.

What else keeps the Panther player motivated?  The money and just missing playing the game are big factors.  “I am just striving to better myself everyday,” Marz said.

The immediate future of the NFL is uncertain even though the fall schedules were released.  Marz sees the virtual offseason pushed back another few weeks.  He thinks the teams will be playing in empty stadiums.  Also, for the teams located in the peak COVID-19 areas of the U.S. like New York, he thinks the teams may temporarily relocate in order to start their seasons.

High school teams like the Springfield Tigers will have the same challenges ahead.  Their immediate futures are on hold as well.  “I felt bad that all the spring Tiger sports were cancelled this year.  I can only imagine how the seniors felt after hearing the news.  It is an important way to end your high school career,”  Tyler stated.  

As COVID-19 eases up, the virtual offseason may change and send Marz to Charlotte for OTAs  or he may just head to Panther training camp at Wofford College in Spartansville, South Carolina in August.  “It’s just a crazy time, but at the same time it is out of our control.  I will continue focusing on what I can control,” Marz commented.

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