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Thread: 'Go-fer' is now Rams' go-to guy
'Go-fer' is now Rams' go-to guy
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Monday, Jan. 19 2009
Young Steve Spagnuolo was working towards his master's in sports management at
the University of Massachusetts but needed an internship to help complete his
He got an internship that would have a profound effect on his career. In the
summer of 1983, he was a personnel department intern during training camp for
the Washington Redskins.
"I worked directly with Charley Casserly, who was then assistant general
manager," Spagnuolo told the Post-Dispatch Sunday.
Casserly was promoted to assistant GM just a year earlier, and lucky for
Spagnuolo, re-instituted a club intern policy that has produced numerous league
executives over the years. And now, one NFL head coach.
"He and I just hit it off," said Rams general manager Billy Devaney, who was
then a Redskins scout. "He was a good guy."
And a "go-fer" for the Redskins.
"He'd make the airport runs," Devaney said. "He picked players up that were
coming in, or took players to the airport that were cut. He was the absolute
'go-fer.' We used 16mm film back then; if the tape broke Spags was the guy who
spliced the tape together."
After hiring Spagnuolo on Saturday as their new head coach, the Rams are hoping
he can help splice together a team that finished 2-14 this season and has lost
27 of its last 32 games. He will be formally introduced as the team's head
coach today at Rams Park.
"I can tell you this," Spagnuolo said. "I was very blessed and humbled that I
was able to talk to various teams throughout this process. What I was looking
for in terms of a final decision was people. How it would be working with the
people? It was a gut (feeling). I knew inside this was the right thing to do."
Spagnuolo, 49, said it always was a career goal to become a head coach.
"Absolutely," he said. "When you get in this business, most of us — almost all
of us — have the drive to be a head coach. If you don't, I don't know if you
have the push you need. I feel I'm a very lucky and blessed guy."
Spagnuolo, who comes to St. Louis after two seasons as defensive coordinator
for the New York Giants, turned down a head-coaching offer from the Redskins
last year at this time. This offseason, he interviewed with Denver and the New
York Jets. So why the Rams?
"No. 1 thing was gut feeling," Spagnuolo said. "The people, my relationship and
closeness with Billy. I think there's a lot of good players there."
The Giants defeated the Rams 41-13 at the Edward Jones Dome in Game 2 this
season. The Giants got knocked out of the playoffs a week ago, so Spagnuolo
isn't up to speed on Rams personnel just yet.
For now, his No. 1 priority is putting together his coaching staff. Spagnuolo
plans to meet with each holdover member of the Rams' staff — those still under
contract and those whose contracts expire Feb. 15. He will meet with all Rams
Park employees this morning before his introductory news conference. On
Tuesday, Spagnuolo and Devaney will head down to Mobile, Ala., for the Senior
But instead of watching draft prospects work out this week, Spagnuolo may not
leave his hotel room in Mobile. He'll be working the phones and conducting
interviews to put together his staff.
A quarter of a century ago, back at Redskins training camp, being an NFL head
coach seemed like a pipe dream.
"The first guy I picked up as an intern was Darrell Green," Spagnuolo said,
referring to the Hall of Fame cornerback. "He was coming to camp, he got into
the van, and I still remember it to this day."
One of the best parts about that summer internship was sitting in on Hall of
Fame coach Joe Gibbs' staff meetings. "It was a tremendous experience for a
23-year-old guy," Spagnuolo said.
After that summer, Spagnuolo embarked in earnest on his coaching career, mainly
at the college level. Meanwhile, Devaney moved up the ranks in personnel in the
NFL. But they stayed in touch, and 10 years later, they hooked up again in San
After college coaching stints at Lafayette and Connecticut, Spagnuolo coached
the defensive line and special teams in 1992 for the Barcelona Dragons of NFL
Europe. But the league folded in November following that season. (NFL Europe
was a spring league.)
There were no coaching jobs to be had in the middle of autumn in the U.S., so
Spagnuolo hooked up with Devaney again in 1993, this time in San Diego. At that
time, Devaney was director of player personnel for the Chargers.
"I was a regional scout," Spagnuolo said. "I did some cross-checking for them.
It was temporary, I'd say maybe a couple of months."
Spagnuolo got back into coaching later that year for Maine and has been
coaching ever since.
"The first thing that jumped out about Spags was that he was a strong character
guy who just had a passion about football," Devaney said. "He just had an edge
to him that I could relate to. That little man's edge. I just thought he was
smart as hell. You could see that early on. The way he carried himself, and
related to the players. He had an eye for talent."
That "little man's edge" refers to the fact that Spagnuolo stands 5-feet-7.
Devaney is, uh, vertically challenged himself.
"I'm sure we'll see eye-to-eye," Devaney quipped.
Re: 'Go-fer' is now Rams' go-to guy
[QUOTE]Spagnuolo got back into coaching later that year for Maine and has been
coaching ever since.[QUOTE]
I knew there was reason I liked this guy. It's that DEEP Maine tradition of putting out NFL head coaches !!
Maineram -and out of the ashes rise ...The Breakfast Club !
Re: 'Go-fer' is now Rams' go-to guy
Gosh this guy is going to be a real gem.
Call me crazy but I think Spags and bill cowher have some similarities
and this makes me very very happy!
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