Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Vermeil Sells the Notion of Improved Rams

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Vermeil Sells the Notion of Improved Rams

Article excerpt

Dick Vermeil was everywhere on Family Day at the Trans World Dome. A compact blur dressed in a windbreaker. Selling, talking, slapping, barking, giving, emoting. Part Oprah and part Billy Graham, with some vacuum-cleaner salesman mixed in.

Shaking hands. Posing for photos. Hugging football players. Throwing his arms around stadium ushers. Signing autographs. Patting the heads of cherubic children. Pounding Dan Dierdorf's shoulders. Embracing Lawrence Phillips.

There were about 9,000 Rams fans hanging around indoors on a gorgeous Sunday, and they gave Vermeil a sweet, adoring welcome as he padded across the carpet to begin practice. This was the first unofficial gathering of the Dick Vermeil Fan Club, and the coach of honor tried to seal off his tear ducts. "It was very warm and pleasing," Vermeil said. "It caught me. It got me emotional." Vermeil gets this way a lot. In 1997, the Rams' theme song might well be the mid-1960s rock classic, "96 Tears." If the moon glows, Vermeil wells up. If the luncheon tuna tastes good, Vermeil is wiping his eyes. I can only imagine his reaction to sentimental movies about children and dogs. Please don't let this gentleman anywhere near a Puccini opera. If Vermeil has the occasion to recall one of his favorite football experiences, he's a puddle. This very sincere man has a new football home, having left his beloved Philadelphia for St. Louis. And it looks like Vermeil's been accepted. He's been away from the NFL for 14 years, but all those teardrops haven't created any rust. Vermeil still knows how to win over the masses. "This place will be very easy to adopt," Vermeil said. "The people here are so sincere. I happen to have a great respect and relationship with the Philadelphia fans, because I've been there so long. They're very intense, and they're very loyal. I don't read these people as being quite as intense, but they'll be every bit as loyal and respectful once we earn the right to that. …

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