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  1. #1
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    Burwell: 4 Pillars Can't Be Milestones For Rams

    4 pillars can't be millstones for Rams

    Sports Columnist Bryan Burwell
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    06/17/2009

    There's no magical blueprint for instant success in sports that can be copied with the simple click of a computer mouse. What works over here doesn't always work over there. Through trial and error, circumstance and a little good fortune, every once in a while a plan comes together that works like a charm.

    The rebuilding Rams are in the process of tinkering with a new formula that the neophyte management team of GM Billy Devaney and head coach Steve Spagnuolo hope will lead this organization back to the NFL postseason. They have a plan and they hope ultimately that it will work. On the first day he showed up at Rams Park a few months ago, Spags laid out the foundations of his franchise reconstruction project:

    "I'm not about predictions, I'm not about bold statements. But we hope that we're going to be about faith, character, core values and team first. Those will be the four pillars we will hang our hat on."

    And now too many people who ought to know better are clinging to this idea that Spags ought to be tethered to those figurative four pillars like a growling junkyard dog on a short and extremely restrictive leash.

    Too many folks are acting like Spags has trapped himself into the sort of bind that forever prevents him from even glancing curiously at any available football player who doesn't have the constitution of a saint and live the lifestyle of a cloistered monk.

    When it comes to building a team, I, on the other hand, prefer to live by the wisdom of that noted cinematic philosopher Captain Jack Sparrow. To quote everybody's favorite movie pirate, "Hang the codes. They're more like guidelines anyway."

    That's why I would have absolutely no problem if the Rams at least did a little window shopping with a few of the NFL's most notable scalawags. Now that Pro Bowl wide receivers Plaxico Burress and Brandon Marshall two certifiable knuckleheads who probably qualify for no better than 2.3 of those lofty four pillars are suddenly available on the NFL market, it wouldn't trouble me in the least if the Rams took an interest.

    I'm not saying the Rams must sign either guy. That is silly. But when you are a team woefully inexperienced at wide receiver, any time receivers of the athletic pedigree of Burress and Marshall come on the market, you ought to be smart enough to at least explore the possibility. They both come with a ton of off-field baggage that makes them potential trouble for a new coach trying to turn an abysmal team back into a legitimate contender. But football is not a game of perfection, and neither are the men who play it.

    Walk into any football locker room and you'll find one of the most fascinating blends of humanity you've ever seen. Saints and sinners, thugs and family men, leaders and followers, farm boys and city slickers all tightly bunched together. They have different music, different cultures, different ages and experiences. Yet somehow when you put the right blend of them together, it turns into an amazing championship mix.

    The Rams might not want anything to do with Burress or Marshall, but it shouldn't be because they're afraid they might come off as hypocrites or authoritarians of convenience. The only reason they should eliminate athletes like Burress, Marshall, Michael Vick or any other notorious troublemaker off their list is because they have done their homework and decided that this particular knucklehead not every knucklehead would upset the balance in their locker room.

    It's football, and wild men are not only allowed but appreciated. Crazy is a virtue in a sport where the object is to hurl your 300-pound body at warp speed into another mammoth man who is the size of a small house.

    It's football, so trust me, there are going to be plenty of people roaming around who have a bit of a rogue in them. What you have to do when you're building a successful football team is find the right rogues to mix in with the right choir boys. Then you surround them with a few more guys who know how, when and where to flip the switch between a cold-blooded football wild child and a well-adjusted citizen of the world and have the ability to influence the ones who don't.

    Thankfully, Spagnuolo gets that. A few weeks ago when he was interviewed on WXOS-FM (101.1), Spags had a very intelligent answer to everyone who wants to put him in that "zero-tolerance" bind with his four pillars.

    "I don't want to put a big red stoplight on. We can't tag people like that," Spagnuolo said. "We all make mistakes. I made them. If you're only going to bring in choirboys in here or people who were perfect in their life, who never made a mistake, I'm not sure we could put a team together around here. To say the words 'zero tolerance,' I don't know if that's 100 percent true. I think it's very important to learn about the person and if we don't think they can fit, then we move on."

    So maybe now is not the time to take a chance. But sooner or later that time will come and Spags seems to be smart enough to know the difference between a steadfast rule and a workable guideline.


  2. #2
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    Re: Burwell: 4 Pillars Can't Be Milestones For Rams

    Some really sensible statements by Burwell here. He makes alot of sense, but it is a liltle to early in Spags tenure to bring in guys with that much of a bad rep after he has clearly established the 4 pillars to everyone.

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    Re: Burwell: 4 Pillars Can't Be Milestones For Rams

    Thank you. excellent article. A lot of the best players of the last decade have been guys who might not completely fit into Spags 4 pillars.

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    Re: Burwell: 4 Pillars Can't Be Milestones For Rams

    It was clear after the Rams drafted Bradley Fletcher that "zero tolerance" was a misnomer. I certainly don't have a problem with guys that have isolated incidents because like Spags said, we all make mistakes. It's how you deal with things after those incidents that usually tell the story. That said, I'm not sure I agree with Burwell that guys like Burress and Marshall deserve a look when they've exhibited a continual pattern of bad behavior. If so, why even bring up the "four pillars" philosophy in the first place? In any case, it will be interesting to see how closely the "guidelines" will be followed.

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    Re: Burwell: 4 Pillars Can't Be Milestones For Rams

    Troublemakers are one thing, but trouble making WR's seem to be much more damaging to a locker room than, say, a trouble making lineman.

    Ochocinco, Owens, Moss (in his Viking days), these guys are cancers and totally disrupt(ed) their teams. I want nothing to do with Marshall or Burress. These prima donnas think they're bigger than the team. That's not what we need

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    Re: Burwell: 4 Pillars Can't Be Milestones For Rams

    Repeat offenders have no place in the 4 pillars.

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    Re: Burwell: 4 Pillars Can't Be Milestones For Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by laram0 View Post
    Repeat offenders have no place in the 4 pillars.
    YEAH BUT!

    Could you imagine the Rams with both Burress and Marshall to go along with Avery and Steven Jackson. Marc Bulger eat your heart out.


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    Re: Burwell: 4 Pillars Can't Be Milestones For Rams

    You've got to step away from the fantasy football mentality.

    Who would you offer to get Marshall?

    How would you pay him (or Burress)?

    What happens if either gets suspended?

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    Re: Burwell: 4 Pillars Can't Be Milestones For Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by RAMSY57 View Post
    YEAH BUT!

    Could you imagine the Rams with both Burress and Marshall to go along with Avery and Steven Jackson. Marc Bulger eat your heart out.

    Yes .. I can imagine .. It isn't terribly appealing either. Both are talented, no question, but we are trying to build a TEAM here. Since we are clearly in the rebuilding mode, why not try and acquire talent that understands and buys into the concept of "team first" rather than talent that projects a "me first" attitude? In other words, mature and intelligent players don't beat up women or shoot themselves in the leg at public watering holes .. Spags said it best when he simply stated: "I don't want to put a big red stoplight on. We can't tag people like that," Spagnuolo said. "We all make mistakes. I made them. If you're only going to bring in choirboys in here or people who were perfect in their life, who never made a mistake, I'm not sure we could put a team together around here. To say the words 'zero tolerance,' I don't know if that's 100 percent true. I think it's very important to learn about the person and if we don't think they can fit, then we move on."

    In this case I believe we'll move on. Spags certainly knows enough about Burress to make an informed decision, and my guess is he wouldn't want him in his locker room ... Marshall can't stay out of trouble either -- check out his record, he just dosen't get it ..

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    Re: Burwell: 4 Pillars Can't Be Milestones For Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by ScottD413 View Post
    Troublemakers are one thing, but trouble making WR's seem to be much more damaging to a locker room than, say, a trouble making lineman.

    Ochocinco, Owens, Moss (in his Viking days), these guys are cancers and totally disrupt(ed) their teams. I want nothing to do with Marshall or Burress. These prima donnas think they're bigger than the team. That's not what we need
    You can say that you might not like the way that Moss behaved but he clearly helped the Vikings more than he hurt them. I don't think the Vikings have one of the best offenses in the NFL for years without Moss on the team.

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    Re: Burwell: 4 Pillars Can't Be Milestones For Rams

    The moss situation shows us that when they are put in the right place, they will be productive like him and the patriots. I like Brandon Marshall to come.
    He can not be compared to T.O. And spags can lock him down.

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    Re: Burwell: 4 Pillars Can't Be Milestones For Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by jmk321 View Post
    You can say that you might not like the way that Moss behaved but he clearly helped the Vikings more than he hurt them. I don't think the Vikings have one of the best offenses in the NFL for years without Moss on the team.
    The Vikings had a top 10 offense in 3 of the 4 years prior to Moss' rookie season and for another year after he left. They were a great Offense with him AND without him during that span.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Burwell: 4 Pillars Can't Be Milestones For Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by ardavandavari View Post
    The moss situation shows us that when they are put in the right place, they will be productive like him and the patriots. I like Brandon Marshall to come.
    He can not be compared to T.O. And spags can lock him down.
    Why can't I compare him to T.O.? They're both loud mouthed ego maniacs who think they're bigger than the team. They embody everything that's wrong with the NFL today.

    And your point about the Patriots makes no sense. They won 3 Super Bowls without Moss.

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