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  1. #1
    HUbison's Avatar
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    No drama for Rams as training camp opens

    No drama for Rams as training camp opens

    Sports Columnist Bryan Burwell
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    07/31/2009


    For far too many years, no matter how hard they tried, the Rams never could get it right. They relied on fancy marketing strategies that offered vague slogans that promised nothing ("I Believe") and delivered less. They tried edgy TV spots and in-your-face print ads that hyped themselves as a reborn football organization. They even sold themselves to the public with fan-friendly stadium renovations that touted gizmos and gadgets, exploding, high-definition scoreboards and elaborate "game day experiences" that promised to make you feel like the Edward Jones Dome was some sort of hip, cutting-edge man cave.

    And while all of this was perfectly cool — and absolutely needed, too — ultimately it was just like putting lipstick on a pig. The Rams were a bad, dysfunctional and miserable franchise, and all of the marketing slogans in the world couldn't disguise that from a discerning football public.

    But now as this organization embarks on the start of another training camp, is it possible that this time they've actually struck upon something we can truly believe in?

    Just as most of the quarterbacks and rookies were hopping on shuttle buses from Rams Park to the team's hotel headquarters following Thursday's first training camp workouts, word came down that the Rams' executive vice president of

    football operations, Kevin Demoff, had gotten the last of this year's draft class — first-round pick Jason Smith — signed, sealed and delivered.

    This was no minor news. For the first time in recent memory, the Rams can begin a training camp without even the slightest hint of needless drama or ridiculous distraction.

    If this doesn't seem like a big deal to you, then clearly you haven't been paying attention to the way this organization has done business in the past. Last summer, when embattled head coach Scott Linehan walked off the bus on the eve of camp, he discovered that star running back Steven Jackson was holding out. It was the worst sort of sabotage to a man scrambling to keep a job that he shouldn't have had in the first place. A year earlier, it was only a mini-disturbance, with quarterback Marc Bulger staging a 24-hour no-show. And how about those Orlando Pace training camp holdouts in which the star Pro Bowl tackle was oh-for-Macomb?

    All around the NFL, the news of Jackson's contentious holdout was greeted as business as usual. Same old self-destructive organization. From agents to players, from front-office types to even the most casual fan, most folks shrugged their shoulders and said what they always said about the folks in blue and gold: It could have been handled better. It should have been handled better. But with the Rams, it never was handled better.

    But now, without having played a game, and without having conducted their first official full-squad practice, the Rams have already proved that they are moving on the right track.

    It began with the promotion of general manager Billy Devaney, continued with the hiring of Steve Spagnnuolo as head coach, and rippled with a total overhaul throughout the building. And now on Day 1 of camp, we see that they actually did do it right.

    No more drama.

    Just before he headed into Thursday evening's first full team meeting, Devaney was understandably pleased. "Our special teams meeting is in about 15 minutes and to have everybody in here for that first team meeting speaks volumes for a lot of people," he said.

    Eight months ago when he was promoted to GM, Devaney quietly hoped there would come a day like this when he would be able to point to something tangible that signaled emphatically how he was altering the direction of this franchise.

    He didn't want it to be about slogans. He wanted it to be about results. You can have all the fancy hi-def TVs the size of four city blocks decorating the dome, but it has to be more about attitude adjustments and tangible actions that make people finally see that the Rams are no longer a disturbing case study in how to lose fans and wreck a franchise.

    And now on Day 1 — with the help of Spags on the field and Demoff off the field — this was another sign that he is doing it. "Our players realize that we want to do this the right way, that this is a different organization with how we're going to go about things, how we're going to treat people," Devaney said. "And this is a perfect example. There aren't a lot of teams that have all their players signed, sealed and delivered. It is a message that we're trying to get out there."

    And what is that message?

    "We are 100 percent committed to win," Devaney said. "It's all about football and we're going to do everything we can to win."

    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  2. #2
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    Re: No drama for Rams as training camp opens

    This is what I love to hear... No BS. Just go and prepare and have the hunger to win

  3. #3
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    Re: No drama for Rams as training camp opens

    I believe!

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