Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Vermeil Has `Good Feeling' after Meeting with Phillips

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Vermeil Has `Good Feeling' after Meeting with Phillips

Article excerpt

Upon further review, Rams coach Dick Vermeil says his position remains unchanged regarding Lawrence Phillips. Though he doesn't condone Phillips' behavior, Vermeil still wants to help him - as a person first.

Vermeil met face to face with his troubled running back Saturday, for the first time since Phillips went through his week of turmoil.

In seven days' time, from Feb. 16-22, Phillips was: Arrested for disorderly conduct at a party in an Omaha, Neb., hotel. The subject of two civil suits resulting from that party. Served with warrants by Ballwin police for leaving the scene of an accident, property damage and driving with a revoked license. Operated on, arthroscopically, to repair damage in his left knee. Vermeil and Phillips have chatted several times since Saturday, because Phillips has been a Rams Park regular for post-surgery treatment and rehabilitation on his knee. Vermeil said running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery, offensive line coach George Warhop and vice president of football operations Lynn Stiles also have spoken with Phillips over the past several days. "Every time I'm around him, I leave with a good feeling," Vermeil said. "I've been around athletes all my life, and I've always prided myself on the ability to read whether a guy is conning me. "But when a guy smiles easily and talks freely to you, just basic conversation . . . I just left in a way relieved. I just don't think it's as big a problem as it's been pointed out to be. I could be 100 percent wrong. But I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt until he proves me wrong." Vermeil said he would do the same for anyone on the team. "That's what we're supposed to do in this society," Vermeil said. "I never used to think that way. But everything's changed." But Vermeil emphasized: "In no way am I condoning his behavior or trying to cover it up or anything else. …

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