By Jim Thomas
Saturday, Nov. 19 2005

Front-office feuds. ..."throat-slashing". ... endocarditis. ... cell phone
access denied. ... a "disgusted veteran". ... mini-scuffles among the coaching
staff. ...

Just when you think you've seen it all at Rams Park, along comes something new
and equally bizarre this season. But in wide receiver Isaac Bruce's 12 NFL
seasons, beginning in 1994 with the Los Angeles Rams, it's not the first time
things have gotten wacky.

"When I came in, it was pretty much the same thing," Bruce said. "Chuck Knox
was the head coach. There was stuff flying around every day. So, I was taught
way back then to just play football, be a professional football player."

Win or lose, Bruce says chaos never has been far-removed from the team. But he
says that's simply part of the NFL experience.

"It's always been here," Bruce said. "It's been around in the league. You get
into the intricate parts of any organization, you'll find something."

Maybe so. But St. Louis seems to be leading the league in that category this
season. So when Bruce talks to friends or former teammates around the league,
do they ask him, "Are you guys crazy?"

"Yeah," Bruce said. "And right after that, I ask them the same question."

Bruce says dirty laundry seems to surface more often when a team is losing.

"I just think it comes more to the forefront if you lose a game," Bruce said.
"If we win this week, something may happen, and you may never hear it. You may
never hear anything about what the situation was. That's funny how that works."

"Battle" of the assistants

While interim head coach Joe Vitt sidestepped questions about Wednesday's
mini-scuffle between offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild and running backs
coach Wilbert Montgomery, veteran offensive guard Adam Timmerman tried to put
it in perspective.

NFL coaches, Timmerman said, "are around each other all the time. They're bound
to get on each other's nerves, just like anybody. You guys maybe don't fight
each other. ..."

That was a playful poke at the St. Louis media and its recent penchant for
scuffles - and near-scuffles - at Rams Park.

In the case of Fairchild and Montgomery, Timmerman said: "It's something where
I'm sure somebody just got on somebody's nerves, and it's over now and they're
moving on. I don't think it's anything lingering. We love those guys. And they
have had a good relationship in the past. They're ready to move on, I think.
That's the word."

Miracle deferred

Prior to the New Orleans game, Vitt showed the Rams highlights from Jim
Valvano's "Never Give Up" speech. For Jacksonville, it was scenes from the
movie "Gladiator."

The Rams won both contests, but Vitt's weekly motivational ploy wasn't followed
by a victory last week in Seattle.

"He talked about the 1980 Olympic (hockey) team a little bit," quarterback Marc
Bulger said.

Vitt showed clips from the movie "Miracle," as well as actual highlights from
the game in which Team USA stunned the Soviet Union.

There was no "Miracle at Qwest Field," however. Seattle posted a 31-16 victory.