Armey close to joining Lions as personnel director

St. Louis GM Charley Armey is about set to join the Detroit Lions as vice-president of personnel, replacing the recently fired Bill Tobin. Armey is also set to abandon Mike Martz's sinking Ram ship as yet another coach's ego gets bigger than his talent. Plus: Mike Fowler's "Paws For Thought"!

(ALLEN PARK, MI) -- St. Louis GM Charley Armey is about set to join the Detroit Lions as vice-president of personnel, replacing the recently fired Bill Tobin. Armey is also set to abandon Mike Martz's sinking Ram ship as yet another coach's ego gets bigger than his talent.

The situation in St. Louis is reminiscent of the one in Green Bay a few years ago when Mike Holmgren, one of the top coaches in the NFL, decided that he wanted personnel power that belonged to Ron Wolf. Wolf won the power struggle and Holmgren was off to Seattle where things backfired. Holmgren got the personnel duties he craved only to find out there weren't enough hours in the day to do both jobs. Holmgren was retained in Seattle after three straight losing seasons, without the GM title.

Now it seems Martz has learned nothing from history, telling the Insiders Barry Waller "It's what we build on in the off-season, on how you identify those leaders, and those guys are the leaders through the off-season. We are going to start just as early as possible, as quick as the league allows us to. From this season, we are going to build a champion."

With Martz taking more authority, it seems to be the perfect time for Armey to get out of St. Louis. Armey is regarded as one of the top personnel men in the business and his acquisition would be a clear win for Matt Millen ... if the two can get along. A big if. Armey has been known to have a few personality conflicts himself.

Still, he helped revive a moribund franchise in concert with Dick Vermeil. His drafts included nabbing Grant Wistrom, Roland Williams, Az-Zahir Hakim and Leonard Little in '98. In '99 he drafted Torry Holt and corner Dre Bly, but used his 2nd round pick to trade for a little known running back named Marshall Faulk.

"He has a sharp mind, " said scout Tom Marino a 25-year NFL veteran. "He plays it the other way, like he's your uncle Charley, but he remembers everything you say about a player and he'll call you on it three or four months later when you're trying to change your story.

"I worked for Jim Finks, who is in the Hall of Fame, and I worked for George Young, who will be in the Hall of Fame, and Charley is as good a general manager as either one of them. He's the best there is when it comes to evaluating personnel."

With Martz having more input, the 2000 and 2001 drafts were not as good, but still Armey managed to extract an extra first round selection from the Chiefs for Trent Green, a player who didn't figure into St. Louis' plans.

Sources say that someone has got to go in St. Louis and it won't be Martz. The situation in the St. Louis front office is tension-filled and with president John Shaw, vice president Jay Zygmut, GM Armey and coach Martz, that's too many chefs in the kitchen.

Some sources say that the Lions have asked and received permission to talk to Armey and that he will be in Allen Park by the end of the month.

If Millen couldn't get along with Bill Tobin, what makes him think that Charlie Armey is the right fit in Motown? While Millen seems to have settled on the St. Louis GM, he has twice had conflicts with coaching staff he worked with. Armey was said to have been a big factor in Bill Parcells resignation in New England. Parcells and Armey didn't quite see eye-to-eye on personnel matters, something that wasn't an issue for the Tuna in New York (Giants, Jets).

Armey was replaced by his assistant, Bobby Grier in New England and was sent home, not even allowed to be a part of the meeting leading up to that draft.

"I don't believe in getting bitter because if you do, you only hurt yourself," said Armey. "But certainly that was professionally insulting to me. It was the most insulting thing they could have done, to think that I would be dishonest. That was the most humbling thing. To be sent home each day during the draft meetings like a thief. It was a setback for me, but you don't dwell on it. I'm not the first guy that's happened to. I just figured I'd find a better situation for me and my family and make it work.

"But it was a difficult time. I'd be lying if I said otherwise. I didn't like what was done but I was not going to let them see me sweat. I was not going to show the emotions of that. In sports, there's always a time you have to move on. Players, coaches, personnel men. So being bitter about it is not a good choice."

Now Armey is on the skids in St. Louis because of the icy relationship between him and coach Mike Martz. While Martz isn't Mr. Personality, when you see something once, that's one thing, twice, you might have a problem. Still, there's no denying the man's talent.

Reports say that Marty Mornhinweg is going to replace Maurice Carthon with himself as offensive coordinator and move Sherman Lewis to wide receivers coach. I say, "big mistake." How can Mornhinweg function as both head coach and offensive coordinator. If he was winning games, then I'd say no big deal. But with a 5-27 mark in two years, Mornhinweg NEEDS an offensive coordinator and there's no better candidate than Lewis to run the west coast offense. Marty ought to rethink this and hands to reigns to Lewis so that he can do what a head coach should do, oversee the ENTIRE team.

I have no objection to Lions assistant John Marshall replacing Glenn Pires as linebackers coach, but the real question is, what are they going to do with Charles Haley? Do they trust him with the defensive line or not? To make him simply a pass rushing assistant seems to be too much like pigeon holing. If he can't handle the defensive line, why have him around?

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