It seemed like old times at Rams Park on Wednesday with former St. Louis Rams coach Dick Vermeil out on the practice field with ex-Rams General Manager Charlie Armey.
Vermeil, who coached the Rams to their only Super Bowl championship in 2000, was watching the man he defeated in that game, former Tennessee Titans coach and current Rams coach Jeff Fisher.
Vermeil, 78, is in the wine business now in California instead of the football business. He presented Fisher with what he called three “good luck bottles” of wine before the the Rams’ opened the season with a 34-31 overtime victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
“I switched between this game and the Chiefs game, every commercial I’d switch,” Vermeil said. “It sounded like the stadium was packed, which was exciting. To a person that really didn’t look and see all the empty seats, you would have thought by the noise the fans were creating that the stadium was packed. I was impressed with their loyalty.”
Fisher has an open-door policy where Vermeil is concerned.
“When Coach comes into town, he always makes a point to stop by and say hi,” Fisher said. “He’s welcome here all the time. It’s good to get caught up with him. We got to visit inside a little bit before I came out to practice. He’s doing well.”
Vermeil was in town for a charity golf tournament co-hosted by Armey and Jim Hanifan on Wednesday, plus several wine-tasting events. He’s also here for the induction of former Rams defensive lineman Kevin Carter into the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame.
Anytime Vermeil is in town, Rams fans thank him for helping bring this town a Super Bowl championship.
“I love them, I really do,” he said. “I didn’t spend any time here after we won the game, which was my mistake. If I come here it’s like it’s the first time they’ve seen me since I left, so it’s really a warm reception. From the minute I get off the airplane, it’s amazing how loyal these people are.”
Armey was GM of the Rams from 2000 to 2005. Both Armey and Vermeil said they hope the Rams can stay in St. Louis instead of moving to Los Angeles.
“Of course I’d like to see them stay here,” Armey said. “The fans that were at the ballgame last week showed that enthusiasm as well. It was pretty loud in there. This could be a very good football team.
“Maybe I’m just enthusiastic because it’s what I want to see, but it’s what I do see and what I feel with the football team.”
Armey couldn’t help but think of the old days as he and Vermeil revisited Rams Park.
“Any time I’m around coach Vermeil I get flashbacks,” said Armey, who worked for coaches like Chuck Knox, Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick during his career. “He was the greatest head coach. I worked for a lot of head coaches and Vermeil was the greatest one of all of them. I’ve met a lot of coaches, but none of them compare to this guy.”
Armey helped build a lot of NFL teams during his career, but the 2015 version of the Rams definitely has his attention.
“I like this team,” Armey said. “Of course I like Fisher, I like their intensity. They’ve got a lot of talent on this football team and it seems to all be coming together. What impressed me most about the team when I watched the game Sunday was when they got down late in the ballgame, the intensity didn’t go down.
“The intensity when up. They just decided they’re going to find a way to win this ballgame, and that really speaks well of the coaches ... it really speaks well of the character of the football team.”