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Sports Notes - Super Bowl Champion Rams Coach Dick Vermeil Serves Critics Crow

Dick Vermeil proved his critics wrong by turning around the NFL's worst team in the 90's into Super Bowl champions within three years. At the start of the season the odds were 200-1 that the Rams could win the NFL's grand prize. - (hshark photo)






James Loving - National Radio Text Service


Vermeil proved his critics wrong by turning around the NFL's worst team in the 90's into Super Bowl champions within three years. At the start of the season the odds were 200-1 that the Rams could win the NFL's grand prize.


Friday February 11, 2000


DICK VERMEIL, Coach of the Super Bowl winning St. Louis Rams, fell prey to the Age Discrimination

Discrimination is one of the world's major problems, though it is for race, age or gender. It's common to see want ads in Thailand newspapers listing the job qualifications and blatantly noting that the position is open ONLY for a female, Thai nationality, not over 25.

DICK VERMEIL, former head coach of the Super Bowl winning St. Louis Rams, fell prey to the age discrimination category by members of the vulture press when he was hired to coach the team three years ago. Many in the media felt that Vermeil, then 59 years old, was TOO OLD to do the job. Some of the brash media went as far as to say that he was too old to communicate with his young players. Well now! After the Rams racked p a 23-16 Super Bowl victory against the Tennessee Titans January 30, 2000 it's time for Vermeil's critics to eat some crow.

It makes you wonder who raised these thirty something media types? Was it by their parents or the friends they hung around with? They certainly weren't raised to respect their elders. It's amazing that teachers and professors have jobs. The media is saturated with bigoted, know it all types who constantly spew snide remarks. It gives one the feeling that the sixties generation of parents possible consumption of the then available psychedelic drugs has affected their children's thinking.

Vermeil had the finger pointed at him since his arrival in St. Louis. It wasn't only criticism from the St. Louis media, it was nationally. If there was a chink in Vermeil's armor, the media was ready and willing to find it. They put him to task by saying he was too intense and that he overworked the team. Vermeil proved his critics wrong by turning around the NFL's worst team in the 90's into Super Bowl champions within three years. At the start of the season the odds were 200-1 that the Rams could win the NFL's grand prize.

Vermeil's teams were 5-11, 4-12 in his first two years in the job. This year's 13-3 record gave the Rams the second biggest turnaround in NFL history. It also helped Vermeil win the NFL Coach of the Year award. George Allen (1967) and Chuck Knox (1973) are the only other Rams coaches who have won the honor.

The accomplishments didn't come without adversity. In a pre-season game the Rams starting quarterback TRENT GREEN was injured and lost for the rest of the season. Vermeil replaced him with KURT WARNER whose pervious professional playing experience included throwing only 11 passes in the NFL and stints in the Arena and World Football Leagues. These were not lofty credentials. The Green Bay Packers cut Warner in 1994.

But never mind the man who was deemed too old to coach young players. The unknown Warner became the MVP of the NFL regular season and Super Bowl. He's only the sixth player to accomplish the feat. His record-shattering performance (25-of-45, 414 yards, 2 TDs) earned him the game's MVP. He broke Joe Montana's record of 357 passing yards against the Cincinnati Bengals in 1989.

Vermeil coached well enough that running back that MARSHALL FAULK became NFL's Offensive Player of the Year. The team generated so much offensive yardage that it ranks the third best ever in the NFL.

NO… The coach doesn't make the plays but he has to have a plan and have it carried out by those he considers qualified… both assistant coaches and players. He has to make good decisions. Simply put…he has to be the head coach.

Vermeil surrounded himself with a silver-hared coaching staff of old-timers who had plenty of experience. From day one he pruned the team. Only nine players who were on the Super Bowl winning squad were with the Rams when Vermeil first arrived.

Prior to the Super Bowl, AP reported Vermeil as saying, "I might not be as intense as I have been in the past but I still believe deeply in what I'm doing. Seasons like this make it all worth while."

Winning isn't new for Vermeil. He's the only coach to ever win both the Rose and Super Bowls. His 1976 UCLA team upset Ohio State 23-10 in the Rose Bowl. His Philadelphia Eagles won the NFL Championship but then lost to the Oakland Raiders 27-10 in the 1981 Super Bowl. Now it's time for the Vermeil to serve his critics crow. It's a meal they deserve. There probably isn't a media member who said that he couldn't do the job who is man or woman enough to admit that they were wrong. It's an issue that's been glossed over in news reports in a joking manner.

Vermeil is an example of an older person who has experience, vision and is man enough to admit to his mistakes. His age and experience added up to maturity and equating to someone who can face his critics. Within 48 hours of his victory, the 63-year-old coach retired form the game to spend more time with his family. He goes out on top. He enters the new millennium a winner. The media vultures will have to find some other prey from which to suck their blood. But before Vermeil left he served his critics a crow dinner. They have to swallow hard. He did what they said he couldn't do... communicate and coach young players.

As Vermeil rides off into the sunset with his Super Bowl Championship, he leaves a trail of scribes behind who once again prove that they….. don't know what they're talking about.



The question that I've been asked the most in the new millennium is: What do you now think about the Lakers? The team was well into their 16-game winning streak when I was asked. The query was prompted by my discerning point of view of the team.


During the win streak the Lakers defeated only seven teams that had records above .500.

The chemistry problem remains. The problem continues between Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and Glen Rice over who will have the ball the most. Rice has been voicing his displeasure of being the third option.

Trade talks involving Rice continue. (See "Lakers Die-Nasty") He's not happy with getting only seven shots a game as he did in a recent game. The Eddie Jones trade will haunt them for years to come (See Lakers Bombs Away).

The team is more mature (OK, older) with the addition of several veteran players but at playoff time they won't be as sharp as they were at the start of the season. You know what they say about old legs.

When O'Neal was called for a flagrant foul after blasting an elbow to the head of San Antonio Spurs Jaren Jackson in a recent Lakers loss, it proved O'Neal still lacks emotional discipline. Lack of self-control is not a good leadership skill. Thus the team still lacks a leader.

An overall unified team persona is missing. It lacks a harmonic personality. The Lakers are talented but it takes more than talent to win championships. The quicksand elements of management who cling to old ideas and old Lakers traditions remains.

The elements are: Good and great players, great coach, nice people, bad team chemistry, No team harmony, Same old management = BAD NEWS.

Their saving grace is that no other NBA team has stepped up and taken the reigns firmly toward riding off to the NBA championship. The Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets days are over. The San Antonio Spurs are still trying to find a groove without Sean Elliott. The Portland Trail Blazers have not achieved the intensity to match their talent. Thus... the Lakers have a chance but they're not rock solid.


The NBA recently released a list of the leagues oldest and youngest players. Who is the oldest and youngest?


In the past NBA All-Star games were preceded with a games featuring retired NBA old timers. Word has it the game was canceled due to too many injuries. The NBA rookie game followed but proved to be boring. This year that game has been replaced by the Rookie Challenge. It will feature NBA rookies vs. NBA sophomore's all-star teams. It will be televised live 4 p.m. EST in the United States.

On paper this game seems just as boring as the rookie game. What's the challenge? Since old people are perceived ready for the glue factory, grave or rocking chair, why not have a game that features the NBA's oldest vs. youngest players? That would have some meaning for both the fans and the players. It would be something to root for.

Many of the young players were bold enough and good enough to make the jump from high school to the NBA. The game could be called the oldies vs. boldies (bold young men) or old heads vs. young heads. The old guys could fight to win and teach the young guys, "who's your daddy?" As they like to say around the NBA .

On the NBA's oldest list, they are lacking guards. Therefore the selection could be by oldest at the position. That's all-right David Stern (NBA Commissioner). I'll send you a bill.


The Charlotte Hornets' Dale Ellis is the oldest. The 39-year-old guard/forward was born August 6, 1960. Jonathan Bender of the Indiana Pacers is the NBA's youngest player. The 20-year-old forward was born January 30, 1981.


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