NFL’s Mike Martin Launches Football Program for Kids  

NFL’s Mike Martin Launches Football Program for Kids  

Sign Up Opens at BAC Documentary Screening on March 3 

It’s not hard to get Mike Martin to talk about football, especially when the topic focuses on football fundamentals for kids. Martin, an NFL wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals from 1983 to 1989, is co-owner of Live and Believe Nutrition (LAB) on 95th Street and the National Wide Receiver’s Coach for Rivals Football Camps. He also organizes football programs for kids, and is currently recruiting local boys and girls, age 5 to 13, for two opportunities he is hosting this spring at Park 581, 11625 S. Oakley Ave.  

The Marcus Martin Youth Fundamental Football Camp, a free one-day camp for kids interested in learning more about the basics of football, will be held Sat., Apr. 16, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Martin and fellow NFL players will serve as coaches for a great morning of football fun.  

Beginning Sat., May 7, Martin will host the seven-week series of Martin NFL Flag Football League games for kids. Flag football offers a chance to play the game without the risks presented by tackling. The cost for the league is $125.  

Registration for the free one-day camp and the seven-week football league will kick off Thurs., Mar. 3, 7 p.m., at the Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St., with a screening of “Faith, Hope and Courage,” a documentary about Mike Martin’s work turning around the failing football program at Cincinnati’s Taft High School more than 20 years ago. A Q&A with Martin and open registration for the football programs follow the film showing.  

About the Documentary 

Mike Martin was hosting a Sunday evening television talk show in Cincinnati when he got a call from the principal at Taft High School asking him to take the job of head football coach. That was 2001. The year before, the school’s football program had been cancelled and student morale was at an all-time low.   

“The kids didn’t want to play on the team,” Martin said, recalling that the principal told him, “Just say, ‘Yes, I want the job.’” Martin did say yes, and the experience ended up being a life-changer for many of the players, and for him.  

Banking on his notoriety as a former NFL player, TV personality and local business owner, Martin went door-to-door to recruit players for the Taft Senators football team. It was a challenge, but Martin knew it would be well worth the effort.  

“I grew up in the projects of Washington DC,” Martin said. “Football changed my life.”  He explained that his time as a high school player opened doors to college and other opportunities, including the NFL. He wanted the kids at Taft to have doors opened for them, too. The students needed a program that would stress discipline and dedication, and a coach that would provide a good role model. Martin was that guy.  

“Faith, Hope and Courage” is the story of how Martin turned around the Taft Senators and the young men who played on the team. The film was made by WCPO-TV, Cincinnati, and earned a 2003 Regional Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio-Television News Directors Association in the category of news documentary.   

Honoring Marcus Martin  

Martin’s son Marcus was one of the Taft High School players featured in the award-winning documentary. Marcus, who graduated as the top male in his class, earned a full scholarship to college, which led him to pursue a career in filmmaking. Tragically, Marcus died suddenly from a pulmonary embolism at the age of 25 in 2014.  

In honor of his son, Martin called on several NFL friends for their participation and established the annual Marcus Martin Youth Fundamental Football Camp for children in July 2014.  

The lessons from the football camps and the enduring good those camps provide for youth are part of the living legacy of Marcus Martin. Mike Martin reflects on that legacy when meets up every year with his original Taft players to share their memories and catch up on what’s going in their lives.    

Martin and his family also founded the Marcus Martin Foundation which supports pulmonary embolism awareness, provides financial assistance to college-bound student athletes, and sponsors the free football camp. 

Come Out and Play 

Participation in the free football fundamentals camp and the flag football league is open to all interested girls and boys, ages 5 to 13. For more information, contact Mike Martin, 513-371-9255 or 



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