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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Former Ram Vitt a good fit in New Orleans

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    01/19/2007

    Just as quickly as Joe Vitt was thrust into the spotlight as interim head coach of the Rams in 2005, he is back behind the scenes in New Orleans.

    Vitt, 52, had spent his career in the trenches as an assistant with seven NFL teams. That all changed last season when he replaced the ailing Mike Martz for the final 11 games of 2005. Caught in the crossfire of an ongoing feud between Martz and the Rams' front office, Vitt emphasized keeping players focused on the season.

    "They never quit on themselves," Vitt says modestly. "I never asked to be the head coach. And I never asked to be the guy out front. I think circumstances warranted that. I love to teach. I love to motivate. I try to inspire."

    Vitt is doing that again, only this time in New Orleans. Vitt had hoped for at least an interview with the Rams to become Martz's permanent replacement. But team president John Shaw went in a different direction, one that led to the hiring of Scott Linehan one year ago today.

    Instead, Vitt landed with the Saints as assistant head coach-linebackers coach, the same title he held in St. Louis before Martz's illness.

    "Talking to reporters and getting my name into the papers isn't what motivates," Vitt said, in a rare interview earlier this week. "Winning playoff games like we did Saturday night is what keeps you going."

    The Saints' 27-24 playoff victory over Philadelphia puts Vitt in a conference championship game for the second time in 28 seasons as an NFL coach. New Orleans plays Chicago Sunday in Soldier Field, with the winner advancing to the Super Bowl.

    "I've been lucky enough that I've been in the playoffs three out of the last four years," Vitt said. "And this is my 12th playoff appearance, you know, playoff (years). I've had 18 total games, but I've never gotten to the big one."

    Vitt's only other conference championship came back in the 1983 season with Seattle, but the Seahawks lost the AFC title game to the Los Angeles Raiders, 30-14. Maybe this is the year Vitt reaches his first Super Bowl.

    "We have as good a chance as anybody," he said. "Offensively, it's very potent down here. Drew Brees is on fire. We've got a great young core of wide receivers. ... I don't know that I'd want to defend Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush in the same backfield. And defensively, we're getting better every week."

    Vitt has done some of the best work of his career molding a no-name linebacker corps of Scott Fujita, Mark Simoneau and Scott Shanle into an effective crew. Shanle, a seventh-round draft pick by the Rams in 2003, led the Saints in tackles during the regular season with 97.

    Fujita, who played for Vitt in Kansas City in 2002 and '03, called him, "a second father figure for me. His enthusiasm is infectious. He is probably the best public speaker and motivator I have ever been around. He's a two-time cancer survivor. He has got so many life experiences that apply to so many things we do on the field."

    Saints coach Sean Payton has put those motivational skills to use. Vitt speaks to the entire Saints team on Saturdays, spicing his talks with film clips. He did the same thing as interim head coach in St. Louis: Some of the clips included Jimmy Valvano's "Never give up" speech and scenes from the movie "Gladiator."

    "Yeah, we show some tapes," Vitt said. "We talk about things. We do whatever it takes to try to win a football game."


  2. #2
    Drew's Avatar
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    Re: Former Ram Vitt a good fit in New Orleans

    i liked joe vitt he`s an old-schooler and he sure knows how to work the gum!!!!!
    i wouldnt have cried if he had become our HC but i guess the FO wouldnt to go in a differant direction which im certainly not crying about either!

    good luck and i hope you win the SB to all you former rams currently with the saints!

  3. #3
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    Re: Former Ram Vitt a good fit in New Orleans

    It's wierd about Shanle. The guy had a good camp and showed in game situations that he could stick tackles. Played on special teams and was a wedge buster. There was buzz about him here at the Clan. Then we make him turn in his playbook.

    Can someone go back into the history and get a timeline of what happened and when?

    Wasn't Vitt in on the decision? Then they're both in the Big Easy. Hmmmmmm.
    With all the gravitas of Jackie Treehorn.

  4. #4
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    Re: Former Ram Vitt a good fit in New Orleans

    Didn't he get suspended for a banned supplement?

  5. #5
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    Re: Former Ram Vitt a good fit in New Orleans

    Good luck JOE!!! LETS GO SAINTS!!!
    Built RAM tough

  6. #6
    Keenum's Avatar
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    Re: Former Ram Vitt a good fit in New Orleans

    I know Bill Romanowski really liked Vitt. He said he was the only coach he's ever had that would actually say "I love you." to a player. Vitt is a good man, and I'm glad he's doing well.

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