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Dick Vermeil has been around the block before, but is he washed up? Warren Sapp has said so. [AP]

Vermeil sees some truth in Sapp slam


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Vermeil sees some truth in Sapp slam

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Marcum: Stopping Warner will be tough

Quick kicks

By BRUCE LOWITT

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 20, 2000


ST. LOUIS -- This might be great bulletin board stuff for the Rams locker room -- if coach Dick Vermeil didn't sort of agree with Warren Sapp.

The Bucs' voluble defensive tackle, in the December issue of Sport, observed: "Teams keep rotating coaches. ... I mean, Dick Vermeil? Come on. The game has passed him by. I mean, he's coached since, what, the 1970s? It's just the good-old-boy system. They just keep recycling them. I mean, Dick's a great guy, but I don't think he's a great coach."

This probably was said a couple of months ago since the December issue goes to press in November, long before the Rams finished 13-3 and knocked off Minnesota in the NFC divisional playoff Sunday.

Yes, Vermeil coached the Eagles in the 1970s, losing a 1979 playoff game to Tampa Bay, before taking them to the Super Bowl the next season.

But recycled?

"There are times I feel like he's right," a smiling Vermeil said Wednesday. "I broadcast a number of Warren Sapp's games and told the national audience, "This is the best football player I've seen in a long time at that position. He's got a little zip in him.'

"I've been around him in locker rooms after the games and that stuff -- he's a character. But he might be right. I hope he's not right Sunday."

SPEAKING OF LOCKER ROOMS ... : The Super Bowl may grip the United States and parts of the rest of the world, but not everyone in the locker room of the NHL's St. Louis Blues is worked up about the Rams' shot at it. That's probably because "football" means different things to different people. Europe's "football" is our "soccer."

"I know the Rams won, which is nice ... and I wish them the best for the Super Bowl," goalie Roman Turek of the Czech Republic said. "I think it's a good chance for them, but I don't care anything about football."

But Slovakian teammate Pavol Demitra, who said the only football game he watched before arriving in St. Louis was the Super Bowl, is a big Rams fan. "They're from our city and I'm very excited about the home team," he said, "especially now that they have a chance to win."

WHERE EVERYBODY KNOWS YOUR NAME: Defensive tackle D'Marco Farr is looking forward to lining up against Tampa Bay center John Mayberry. "I'm sure we'll get acquainted," the five-year Ram said of the 10-year Buc. "Mayberry's pretty tough; he's a Pro Bowler. I'm looking forward to the matchup."

Now Mayberry will be lining up against a Pro Bowler as well. Farr was added to the NFC roster to replace Bryant Young of the 49ers, who is having leg surgery.

How does Farr like the idea? "I'm still getting used to that right now," he said. "It's a tremendous honor, but it also means that everybody knows your name now, so you can't sneak up on anybody and be unblocked."

POINTS (OR THE LACK OF THEM) TO PONDER: If offense sells tickets and defense wins championships, the NFC championship is the best of both worlds -- and the Bucs would like to prove that adage.

Since the Super Bowl began, there have been six shutouts in NFC championships (including 1968 when the game was for the NFL title, before the league merged with the AFL). The Rams and Bucs have been involved in four.

In 20 games starting with that one, the losing team has scored no more than one touchdown. Five games in that span have been decided by a touchdown or less.

Now the bad news (perhaps) for the Bucs: In those 20 games, the winning team has averaged 26 points. This season the Rams scored more than 26 in 14 games. They averaged 26 in their three losses. The Bucs scored more than 26 twice.

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