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Thread: Charley Armey: A team player
Charley Armey: A team player
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
After nearly a decade on the job with the Rams, Charley Armey is nearing the finish line. In June, when Tony Softli was hired as vice president of player personnel, the Rams also quietly announced that Armey was being reassigned.
Armey has run the Rams' personnel department since 1998, including the past six seasons as general manager. But with the arrival of Softli, Armey's new job description in this, the final year of his contract with the club, is vice president of pro personnel.
No matter how you look at it, it's a demotion for Armey. Those close to Armey say he briefly considered retiring or resigning after the Softli hire was finalized in June. But he decided to stay on for what looks very much like his final year.
"They asked me to stay, and I feel very, very loyal to the Rams and the city of St. Louis," Armey said.
Armey doesn't give many interviews these days, a far cry from the heyday of the Greatest Show on Turf when he seemed to show up everywhere in newspaper, radio and TV reports. But in a recent interview with the Post-Dispatch, Armey said he holds no ill will toward the organization over the restructuring in the personnel department.
"I've been treated fairly here," Armey said. "John Shaw has been tremendous to work for. He's always been honest and open. Everyone knows we've had a rough run here lately. But I've always tried to put the organization and winning first. Nobody's more important than what your team objectives and goals are."
Immediately following the 2006 draft, there were signals from Rams management that the organization might stand pat for at least another year in the personnel department. New coach Scott Linehan was pleased with how the draft process went, and at least some of that credit went to Armey.
Perhaps Armey would run yet another draft in St. Louis, as he had done for nine consecutive seasons, from 1998 through 2006. But that all changed with Softli's hiring.
"I anticipated that there was a possibility that it could happen," Armey said. "There was no surprise. The team was going through a reorganization, and it maybe was time for me to cut back. And I think it's important that the new coach and his staff have the people in place that they feel they need to win.
"Whatever your job is -- coach, president, player -- there always comes a time when it's time for somebody new to come in because they feel they can do a better job than you do."
As vice president of pro personnel, Armey will organize the team's pro personnel department, which had been all but nonexistent in recent years. He will do advance scouting; evaluate players on opposing teams from week to week; and evaluate players scheduled to be unrestricted and restricted free agents at the end of this season. Throughout the season, he'll keep a "disaster" list of possible players the Rams can pick up in case one of their own is injured.
"It's an important part of the organization," Armey said.
But it's not the same as running the entire show in personnel. That job now belongs to Softli.
Softli says: "Charley Armey is going to be my left hand; he's going to run the pro stuff. Lawrence McCutcheon is going to continue to run the college stuff; he's my right hand.
"I've always admired Charley from afar, what he has done. Charley is another one of those guys that helped me out when I was a young scout. We've got a good relationship, and that's not going to change.
"Charley's going to have a lot of responsibility in advance scouting and helping Scott Linehan and this organization get to where we want to be."
But it figures to be a short-lived working relationship. All indications are that Armey's contract will not be renewed after this season. In contrast, McCutcheon received a three-year contract extension shortly before the offseason.
For Armey, it's a far cry from a few years ago, when the Rams were demanding draft-pick compensation when teams such as Atlanta and Detroit sought permission to talk to Armey about running their personnel departments. But in the wake of the Mike Martz firing in January, the Rams organization sought a fresh start on several levels -- coaching staff, players, marketing ... and player personnel.
"Charley's a team player," Linehan said. "Charley's done a great job for this organization. This whole restructuring has really nothing to do with Charley's ability. I think Charley would be the first one to tell you that he would love to see us have a great year, and then he would like to ride off in the sunset and enjoy the rest of his life."
Armey won't close the door if a job offer materializes from another team. But at the moment, he's planning for life after football.
"Right now, I plan on retiring at the end of the year," said Armey, who celebrated his 67th birthday July 16. "I'm pretty proud of everything that happened here ... that I was lucky enough to be part of a Super Bowl win. I was extremely happy working for (Dick) Vermeil."
By omission, that's a not-so-veiled shot at Martz, Vermeil's coaching successor. Vermeil trusted and cultivated Armey's views and recommendations. That wasn't always the case with Martz, particularly in the later stages of Martz's coaching tenure in St. Louis.
So how should Armey's Rams tenure be remembered? For the most part it will be judged by the nine drafts he oversaw in St. Louis from 1998 through 2006.
The Post-Dispatch studied the NFL draft league-wide from 1998 through 2005. The '06 draft was omitted because those players have yet to play in the regular season, and many are still trying to make their clubs.
Three categories were analyzed:
— Players from the drafts still on NFL rosters as of last season.
— Players from the drafts who started at least one NFL game last season.
— Pro Bowl players who were drafted in the period.
When it comes to the first two categories, the Rams have done surprisingly well given the attention paid to well-publicized draft busts such as Jacoby Shepherd, Travis Scott, Trung Canidate and Eric Crouch.
A total of 43 players drafted by the Rams from 1998 through 2005 were in the NFL last season, either with the Rams or other teams. According to the Post-Dispatch study, that's the third-highest total in the league, topped only by Tennessee (51) and San Francisco (47).
A total of 35 players drafted by the Rams in that same period started at least one NFL game last season, either with the Rams or other teams. That's the third-highest total in the league, again trailing only Tennessee (40) and San Francisco (37).
The third category, Pro Bowl players, is where the Rams have been lacking during Armey's tenure. Rams drafts from 1998 through 2005 have produced only three Pro Bowl players, a figure that's tied for 19th (with five other clubs). The lack of Pro Bowlers didn't escape notice by Rams management in considering possible changes in the personnel department.
Wide receiver Torry Holt, defensive end Leonard Little and cornerback Dre Bly are the only Pro Bowlers drafted by the Rams so far in Armey's tenure. (Bly made the Pro Bowl after he left the Rams -- as a Detroit Lion.)
Holt was one of the most highly criticized first-round draft picks in Armey's tenure. Most observers, at least in the local media, expected and wanted the Rams to take a cornerback that year, particularly Champ Bailey.
Drafted one spot after Holt at No. 7 overall, Bailey has had a fine career. He's made six Pro Bowls to Holt's five. But the addition of Holt to the St. Louis roster in 1999 helped turn what would have been a very good offense into one of the greatest in NFL history, an offense that scored an unprecedented 500-plus points in three consecutive seasons from 1999 through 2001.
And besides, Armey notes, "Torry's still got one more (Super Bowl) ring than Champ Bailey does."
Re: Charley Armey: A team player
What a terrific article. Not just because of the story on armey, which itself is noteworthy as he is one of the guys that helped make the gsot a reality behind the scenes. The story points out how many rams draftees are in the nfl today and ranks us third, even more impressive considering since 2000 we havent always been drafting towards the top.
I have been amazed at the front office bashing on this board over the last year regarding the failure of our picks to make the pro bowl and other subjective measures. To read some of the guys on this board, you would think that our front office draft team has no clue at all while every other team in the league is drafting better and better every year.
have we had busts? Of course. So has every other team. The performance of anyone and anything at any job in the world is relative. In baseball, if you fail at the plate seven out of ten times, you can make the hall of fame. On the other hand, a qb that throws incompletions seven out of ten times is out of a job in no time. That is just one example of the relativity of measuring perfomance and before guys bash our draft performance, they should consider the performance of the other teams in the league.
This article gives us some objective perspective on our drafting. I am not saying its the best, but it sure is far from as bad as it has been portrayed on this board over and over during the last year.
Charley will be sorely missed by me and many other hard core rams fans. The players come and go and i love them, but the guys that run the team are the glue that holds the organization together and ensure continuity at a time when due to the salary cap, that is a harder and harder task every year. Charley has been a pro's pro, he has done his job and never complained and lord knows he has had reason to. He is a great all time ram, like klosterman before him, one of the architects of the gsot. An executive that gets little credit and plenty of blame, he has done the horns proud.
He will be missed. He will walk with the chosen. Super guy.
Ramming speed to all
Re: Charley Armey: A team player
Right on all counts GC! He was the reason the Rams become the GSOT. Sad part about it all is that he was never given enough power through the Martz years. Not sure why more people couldn't stand back and let the man work. Lord knows we wouldn't have the drafts that we did.