TAMPA — When the now-defunct United States Football League suspended operations in the mid 1980s, Tim Marcum, then an assistant coach in the league, didn't know which way to turn. To make ends meet, he briefly left the profession and turned to another line of work.
"I sold used cars in Tempe, Arizona," Marcum said.
Marcum, now coach and general manager of the Tampa Bay Storm, again was in limbo Monday. A day after the Arena Football League's board of directors voted to suspend the 2009 season with an eye toward returning in 2010, the normally enthusiastic coach not surprisingly was more than a little bummed out.
"It really hasn't set in yet," Marcum said.
Marcum, 64, has more invested in the league than most. He has been part of the league for 20 of its 22 seasons. He owns the most wins in AFL history and seven ArenaBowl championships.
"It's like something I've seen grow up," he said. "It's something that is really hard to let go."
What is Marcum's next move? He isn't sure. He said he planned to talk to Storm owner Dr. Bob Nucci soon to "see where we are and what his vision is of the Tampa Bay Storm."
Storm quarterback Brett Dietz, one of the AFL's top players, was equally uncertain about his future. Like Marcum, Dietz, 27, hopes the league will return in 2010, but in the meantime he is thinking about jobs in which he can use his communication degree from Hanover (Ind.) College.
"This is bad," Dietz said. "For all the players, all the families of the players, the coaches, the staff — everybody."