Greatest Show' is now just a sad story of strife and dissension
BY JEFF GORDON
STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
Kurt Warner Week gives us an opportunity to reflect on what once was for the Rams. Two NFC Championships, a Super Bowl title, touchdowns scored by the bundle . . .
“From that 1999 year on, we helped create a persona about that organization,” Warner recalled during his conference call to the St. Louis media. “It was an organization much like I think New England is now.
“Everybody wants to emulate what we had there. That’s a great feeling to be in.”
These days, Warner is in the twilight of his career, quarterbacking the 2-7 Cardinals. These days, the Rams are 4-5 and struggling to overcome myriad on- and off-the-field problems.
Coach Mike Martz is home on sick leave, recovering from an infection in his heart tissue. Given his well-publicized rift with Jay Zygmunt, the president of football operations, he is likely to move on after this season.
Running back Marshall Faulk is just a situational player these days, occasionally chipping in on third down. Receiver Isaac Bruce, hobbled by a nasty case of “turf toe,” is struggling to regain his stride. Injury-battered guard Adam Timmerman is scuffling, too, as he nears the end of his carreer.
The 1999-2001 run to glory seems a long time ago, doesn’t it?
One by one, the stars of those teams have moved along or taken a step back with their performance. And a once-cohesive football operation has been splintered by ego clashes and turf battles.
Back in the day, the Rams received glowing media coverage as the "Greatest Show On Turf." They were glamorous trend-setters with their exotic and explosive offense.
Now they get hammered with coverage like “Fallen Idol,” a Sports Illustrated account of the team’s organizational strife and apparent locker room dissension.
It seems a “disgusted” Rams veteran, unnamed of course, muttered unkind things about Rams defensive tackles Jimmy Kennedy, Damione Lewis and Ryan Pickett on the field after Sunday’s loss in Seattle. SI tells us the unnamed player accused the three first-round draft picks of (gasp!) not playing hard against the Seahawks.
This is just the latest chapter in a sad, ongoing saga.
Warner still touches base with folks in and around the Rams organization, so he is generally aware that things have not gone smoothly for his old team this season.
“My biggest thought would be to say, I think it’s unfortunate,” he said. “I think it’s unfortunate for the organization, all the people involved, the players who had to fight through some of that stuff. I just think it’s unfortunate.
“There’s too many good people involved. It’s too great of an organization. I’ve been a part of it. I’ve seen it on top. Too many good players involved. You always hate to see stuff like that, which kind of pulls on the organization and makes it a struggle on a daily basis.
“I just think it’s too bad. A few years ago, this was the organization that everybody wanted to be like. And now they are fighting through turmoil and stuff no organization ever wants to fight through. Just looking at it from afar, you just hope that it goes away, that they can get back to playing football, they can get back to being the people they are, find a way to get along and turn that thing back in the right direction.
“I think they still have so much talent there, so many good coaches, so many good people in the management there . . . I just feel bad for the organization. For whatever reason, it took that turn. You just want to see it turn back, because of the people involved.”
Well said, Kurt. Perhaps you can come back to St. Louis on a day off and do some mission work. You know, get everybody around the campfire again, airing out their concerns, vowing to work together . . .
Never mind. It’s too late for all that. What once was is gone now, almost certainly for good.
Re: Greatest Show' is now just a sad story of strife and dissension
Damn! When did Rams football become Steel Magnolias? If Jeff Gordon's article were any more sappy it would have to be printed on kleenex.