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  1. #1
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    Monmouth County's Billy Devaney now making waves as GM of the St. Louis Rams

    by Mike Garafolo/The Star-Ledger
    Tuesday April 21, 2009

    Monmouth County native Billy Devaney will be a major player at the NFL Draft on Saturday, as the GM of the St. Louis Rams.
    Billy Devaney has been the Rams' general manager for only four months and already the city of St. Louis has made him the guest of honor at a parade.
    Well, not the kind of parade that comes with confetti and a Lombardi Trophy. Not yet, anyway.
    Instead, the Monmouth County native had to settle for a green blazer and an entire day's worth of obligations as the grand marshal in last month's St. Patrick's Day parade through the streets of his new home.
    "Yeah, well you know how that goes," Devaney said by phone earlier this week. "If we get off to an 0-4 start, the parade will be going the other way -- right out of town."
    Devaney doesn't plan on leaving so quickly. Not after all he's been through to get here.
    After more than 20 years in the NFL with five teams, the 54-year-old former scout and personnel director will finally be in charge of an NFL Draft war room, taking the lead Saturday as he realizes the dream of every talent evaluator and scout. Roughly 10 minutes into the draft, the Rams and Devaney will be on the clock with the No. 2 overall pick.
    "He's very happy right now. And I can tell he is, too," said Mike Corley, Devaney's best friend from before their days together at Mater Dei High School in New Monmouth. "I'll text him every time I read a quote from him. By the stuff he's saying, I can tell he's feeling good about himself and he's more confident now in his position than he's been in the past."
    Devaney's road to the NFL began, oddly enough, in church.
    As a student on a baseball scholarship at Biscayne (Fla.) College, he befriended legendary coach Don Shula, who attended Mass at the same church on Key Biscayne during the Dolphins' training camp. Devaney told Shula he would one day play in the NFL, even though Biscayne didn't have a football program. Shula repeatedly (and often heatedly) disagreed.
    "He's yelling at me, telling me I'm stupid and that I can't play in the NFL and I'm telling him I'm playing," said Devaney, who was a three-sport star in football, baseball and basketball in high school. "That's how stupid I was."
    Maybe, but Shula eventually referred Devaney to Miami scout Bobby Beathard to see if there was a small program that would allow Devaney to resume his football career. Beathard sent Devaney to Elon (N.C.) College, where he finished his education and where he also learned Shula was right: Despite being a three-year letterman at strong safety and a team captain as a senior, he wasn't destined for the NFL -- at least not as a player.
    Devaney returned to New Jersey, where he worked as a baggage handler at Newark Airport for the now-defunct Pan Am Airlines. Still, he maintained contact with Beathard, who had been hired as the Redskins' general manager, and worked for him as a part-time scout from 1979 to 1983, when he was hired full-time.
    It was a fitting career path for a self-proclaimed "draftnik" (before there were draftniks) who used to take the bus from Leonardo -- a section of Middletown -- to Port Authority in Manhattan to pick up a copy of Street & Smith's draft guide.
    "I'd go to the first newsstand," Devaney recalled, "and if it wasn't out, I'd take the bus back down to Leonardo and repeat it the following week."
    Devaney honed his scouting skills in high school, watching game film of his opponents before it was commonplace to do so.
    "He was a real student of the game," Corley said. "Whatever advantage he could get, he'd find a way to do it ahead of time and always be in the right spot at the right time."
    Even in his NFL scouting career, which was rerouted after he was part of the Chargers' front office that drafted quarterback Ryan Leaf. Devaney, who served under Beathard as San Diego's director of player personnel from 1990 until 2000, also got caught in a bit of an organizational shuffle in Atlanta two years ago when Michael Vick's legal troubles arose and former coach Bobby Petrino defected for Arkansas after only 13 games.
    But those career bumps, which also included three years as a personnel assistant with the ***** and a two-year stint as a consultant and analyst for CBS' pregame show, all led him to St. Louis, where he was hired as the Rams' executive vice president of player personnel in February of last year and finally promoted to GM this past Christmas Eve.
    "Maybe we overachieved, maybe we overcame some things and maybe the road was a little steeper than for most," Rams coach and former Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said when asked about his bond with the man who hired him in January. "That builds a certain character in you, and Billy certainly has that. He's well-deserving of where he is and what he's doing."
    Of course, Devaney hasn't forgotten his Jersey connections. And he claims he's still a Giants fan -- so much so that a few years ago, while still with the Chargers, he traded Giants vice president of player evaluation Chris Mara a full Lance Alworth throwback uniform (the powder blue variety) for a Tucker Fredrickson No. 24 jersey. Devaney's father, Bill, remains a Giants season ticket-holder who once got into an argument with his son after a Redskins comeback victory during Billy's days with Washington.
    "I said, 'Nice team you've got, Dad. They're still a bunch of chokers,'" Billy recalled. "He got so mad, he drove off and left my mother down in Virginia."
    It was one example of how Devaney's job can split his allegiances. Yet, he claims he's still a Jersey guy at heart.
    And that's why he's still hoping for an invitation to another parade -- in addition to the one with the confetti.
    "I was waiting for the Belmar people to call me to be the grand marshal for the St. Patty's Day parade down there, but I never got the call," Devaney said. "Maybe now that I did it in St. Louis maybe I can do it in Belmar sometime."



  2. #2
    Varg6's Avatar
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    Re: Monmouth County's Billy Devaney now making waves as GM of the St. Louis Rams

    I'm honored to say I live in Monmouth County!

    Billy, your the man!


    Always and Forever a fan of the St. Louis Rams

  3. #3
    BEER's Avatar
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    Re: Monmouth County's Billy Devaney now making waves as GM of the St. Louis Rams

    Corona Ca, and Devaney was a find. May take 3 years but I know he will
    get us there.

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