Introduction of Rams Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo
January 19, 2009
(Billy Devaney Opening Remarks)
"I'm putting this (microphone) down, not for me, for ‘Spags' just so you know."
"Thanks to everybody for coming out first of all this morning. What I'd like to do before I introduce Steve and Maria, just take a minute and acknowledge the people that helped us get to this point. I feel like it's an important thing to do because, obviously, it was a big decision and a lot of time and effort went into it and I had a tremendous help along the way. It started with the league office. The people at NFL headquarters are a tremendous asset, Ray Anderson, Joel Bussert, John Wooten, Ken Fiore, they're all tremendous. The advisory group that I set up, Bobby Beathard, Marshall Faulk, Dan Dierdorf were just what I expected. They were professionals and they were there any time I needed to bounce anything off them and I really appreciate their efforts in this. A special thanks to Lawrence McCutcheon. Lawrence was with me every step of the way as we criss-crossed all over the country. In fact, in the staff meeting the other day I was asked if we're getting close to a decision and my comment was I think we better because as much time as I'm spending with McCutcheon in airplanes and hotels, I think I was developing a little bit of a crush on McCutcheon, so I thought we better hurry up and name somebody soon, but Lawrence was a real trooper. Ownership group, Chip Rosenbloom, Lucia Rodriguez, Stan Kroenke they were there the whole time. The interviews that took place in Los Angeles last week with John Shaw in attendance and being such a great ally and friend and a tremendous help in this. I thought the interviews that took place there were professional, we were prepared and even as I made the calls to the candidates that didn't get the job and this was after the fact even and they couldn't have been more complimentary about the way the interview process took place and they thought everything was done in a classy manner and a relaxed manner, but it was extremely professional. So I'm really indebted to ownership and John Shaw for playing such a big part and being such a real ally through this process."
"With that being said, I want to be the first to introduce Steve and Maria and welcome Steve Spagnuolo as the next head coach of the St. Louis Rams. I think you're all going to be thrilled with him. I'm really excited about having a solid football coach first and foremost as the head coach. You know about the relationship that Steve and I've had, we've known each other since back in the 80s, sometime back in Washington. We were talking about it this morning. In between practices we used to go over and play basketball in the gym with Wayne Sevier and Jerry Rhome and they cheated like heck. I think they put Steve and I on the same team knowing we weren't going to win a game, we were just fodder for them, but we were saying who would have thought at that time that we'd both be in this position. So besides being a really outstanding football coach, I think we've got a really solid person and I think the Rams' community, I know our football players are going to be thrilled and I think you're going to be thrilled as well, so with that I'd like to welcome Steve and Maria to St. Louis."
(Steve Spagnuolo Opening Remarks)
"Thanks, Billy. I'm going to move these (microphones) up now. I knew he'd hit me, so I figured I'd hit him back."
"Thank you all for coming out on really a special day today, Martin Luther King Day and certainly the day before another special day, tomorrow down in Washington. I'd like to simply state first that it's a privilege and an honor to stand in front of you as the head football coach of the St. Louis Rams. I'm a very blessed man and I would like to thank the good Lord for having a guided hand in this whole thing. I'd like to first thank Chip Rosenbloom, Lucia Rodriguez, Stan Kroenke, John Shaw for a few days ago when we sat down and visited, it was due to them that we got to this point today. I'd also like to thank Billy (Devaney) and Lawrence McCutcheon who were involved in that same process for their role. I was very, very fortunate in this league to work for two outstanding organizations and it's because of the experience in those two organizations and the people that I've worked with that I'm able to be here today. I would like to thank Jeffrey and Christina Lurie, Joe Banner, Andy Reid, Jim Johnson and all the players and coaches down in Philadelphia who for eight years helped me grow as a football coach and got me to this point. And my deepest, deepest appreciation to the Mara family, the Tisch family, Tom Coughlin, Jerry Reese and those very, very special coaches and players for the New York Giants who made two years there some of the most memorable, I'm sure, memorable years of my life, very, very special. To my parents and family and friends for their undying support in my entire career that's all meant a lot. And most importantly, the most important person in my life, I'd like to thank my wife, Maria, for all she has done for me and hopefully will continue to do. Maria and I are real excited to be a part of the St. Louis Rams, this community; we look forward to a wonderful, wonderful experience."
"I'm just going to say real quick and then we'll open it up for questions. As a head coach, I will be committed to doing everything possible to bring success to this franchise. I'm not about predictions, I'm not about bold statements, but we hope that we're going to be about faith, character, core values and team first those will be the four pillars that we will hang our hat on. The group here, Billy, myself and all the people who work here in the St. Louis Rams organization, we all know the overwhelming amount of work and effort it takes to build success and to sustain it, but I think with the help of the people involved and the support of an outstanding ownership group, I think we will be able to do that. I'm very proud to be standing here and look forward to many times being proud to stand here and I think at this time what I'll do, why don't we just open it up for questions. I guess I would ask this for me, I would love to able to put faces with names and if you want to present a question if you could just holler out the name that would certainly help me. I'll entertain questions right now."
(On if he or Billy Devaney is taller)
"We're not going to go there. We'll let you guys figure that out. It depends on what shoes we wear."
(On his football philosophy)
"Well, I mean without getting into all the specifics about offense and defense and special teams and all that, quite simply stated, team first. It will always be about (the) team, it's not about egos. The teams that function the best I believe in any industry are those where nobody cares who gets the credit, everybody just cares about the team. And again, without getting long winded with offense defense, it begins and starts there."
(On why he felt this was the head coaching position he wanted and what separated this one from other offers he has gotten)
"That's a pretty easy one. It was about the people when Maria and I talked. I was very fortunate, very blessed to have some opportunities and only because of what a group of people did in New York. That's not lost on me. It's not one person. When they were all presented and all at different times and reasons, I always felt and knew, and Maria and I always felt, that it was going to be when we felt it, when the fit was right, when the people were right. When I sat with (Rams General Manager) Billy (Devaney) and (Rams Owners) Chip (Rosenbloom) and Lucia (Rodriguez) and Stan (Kroenke) and (advisors) John (Shaw) and Lawrence (McCutcheon), the feel was there and then it was an easy decision."
(On if he has a timetable for when he would like to have a staff in place)
"That's ongoing. Billy (Devaney) and I will certainly talk about that. That will be the first and foremost thing that we do. To put a timetable on it, I think the bottom line is that we want to be able to get the best coaches that we can get. Sometimes, that means waiting. So, we'll be patient. We'll go through the process and hopefully get it done as soon as we can."
(On how long it will be for the team to be competitive)
"I'm not going to go there. I'm a believer in, this is a beginning. One of the things I've learned from one of the best coaches I've worked for, ever, (Eagles Head Coach) Andy Reid, is that it's a process. We're going to have to start at the beginning here, take it one step at a time and build on it. Like I said, it's not about predictions and bold promises, it's about building. We get the team first, together, and then we'll move on."
(On what kind of offense he wants to have)
"Offenses get tagged. You have the west coast and you have this and you have that. I would say this, I do believe that offensively, you have to be able to run the football and protect the quarterback. That doesn't mean you run the football every snap, but I do believe that you have to do those two things. We'll build from there and we won't have a fancy name for it, but we'll just try to be successful at it."
(On how familiar he is with the Rams roster)
"Billy (Devaney) and I have talked about it of course. I hope we can all appreciate that the last week for me has been very, very busy. So, to concentrate in one area, but having played earlier in the season, I certainly have a really good feel, or a better feel for the offense, but still, we have a long way to go in discussing all that."
(On how difficult it will be to coach a team and not just a defensive unit)
"To me, and only because I think I have a little confidence in myself, I think it's a natural progression. I had a unit as a group of linebackers and DBs, then progressed to unit as defensive players. The next natural progression to me is to have the whole team."
(On when he realized that it takes quality people and character to have success)
"I think I knew that all along in my career, even in college and with some of the pro teams that I worked with. Certainly, when (Eagles Head Coach) Andy Reid stepped into that first meeting in 1999, that was quite evident. Then, we lived it and you can see that it works, so, we believe in that."
(On what it was about the people he interviewed here that made it the right fit)
"Again, I would go right back, I do believe the business and any business is all about people. When you feel the right fit, when you feel you are around the right people, and it's something that has been in your heart for a long time, that's the time to do it."
(On being not just a head coach but the face of the franchise)
"I'm not so sure I'd want this face being the anything really. I know what you're asking. I do think that position comes with it a lot of responsibility. I don't believe that it's just ‘Xs and Os.' I think there's more to that. The landscape of the NFL is structured that way. We're excited, Maria and I, to take part in those other things outside of football. It's been a real passion for Maria and passion for myself, to be able to help other people. I do think that's all part of it and look forward to that."
(On if Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin and Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid gave him any advice on being a head coach)
"They gave me advice every day when I watched them and I mean that, seriously. Two of the most outstanding head football coaches in this league. It's easy to see. You see their success on the outside, but on the inside, when you watch them day-to-day and what they're all about, I'm hoping and I believe it to be true, that that's going to be a tremendous advantage for me, to having worked for both Andy (Reid) and Tom (Coughlin)."
(On what he has taken away from them)
"You take bits and pieces from each. Really, at the core, they're both the same person in the way they go about things, the goals they've set and where they're headed. Personalities might be different, but you pick out bits and pieces and hopefully mold what you have and you hope to come out with a good product. But again, I do think I'm blessed and fortunate to have worked for two top-notch head football coaches in this league."
(On what it was like to work with Eagles Defensive Coordinator Jim Johnson)
"Jim (Johnson) was outstanding. My heart goes out, really, to Jim (Johnson) and all of the Eagles, yesterday. That's a hard thing to go through. We went through it a week ago, but Jim (Johnson) was mentor and is a mentor for me, because of who he is and how he coaches defensive football. I wouldn't be the coach that I am, I wouldn't have had even a chance to have any kind of success as a defensive coordinator had I not worked with Jim (Johnson). Just his passion for the game, the way he goes about it, his aggressive style certainly is something that I'd like to adopt."
(On what legitimate expectations fans can have for this team)
"They will have a group that will be team-first, that will be team-oriented and will center around, that will build a foundation that will help us be successful and sustain success. I think that's what it's all about. There has to be a beginning before you can go anywhere else. I threw four words at you on the pillars. Now faith was the first one, there has to be some faith. Faith in what we're doing, faith in our philosophy and we certainly hope to have a little bit of patience. It will be a process."
(On the role that his prior friendship with General Manager Billy Devaney played)
"Certainly, there's a comfort level with Billy (Devaney) and I. I do think that's important, because you skip past a few stages. Billy (Devaney) and I have talked enough in the past just in sharing thoughts about personnel and football that we feel like we're on the same wavelength. When you get two, four, five, a bunch of people headed in the same direction, it gets strong and that's when you can have some success. We'll work our way through. Like I said, it is going to be a process. You're probably going to hear me use that word a lot. Nothing happens in a day, but we're certainly going to roll up our sleeves here as soon as this is done and get going on what we know we need to do."
(On if he taken any lessons from how other assistant coaches have ascended to head coaching position including John Harbaugh, Mike Smith and Tony Sparano)
"I'm hoping that the experiences we've faced or that I've faced in the last ten years in the league and in the 27 years of coaching helps you along. Every person that jumps in a level, in any organization, feels that way. (Ravens Head Coach) John Harbaugh and I spent a lot of time in the NovaCare Complex talking about these days. It's wonderful to see, after all of those conversations behind closed doors and late at night and talking about someday, someday. It was tremendous to watch what John (Harbaugh) did this year with the Baltimore Ravens. Again, my heart goes out to the Ravens and to John (Harbaugh) as well. You just feel down deep as a confident person in this business that this is the next step. There's going to be some stumbles along the way, but hopefully, with the support of the group and everybody working together, there's more ups than there are downs."
(On the importance of the organization and if it is more about the organization and staff's support than just one coach)
"It's all factors. It's more than one. That's why I keep talking about all of us in this and it will be an entirely group effort. One guy doesn't come in here and change it. It's all. It's everybody involved, people that are here, people that might come in new. Again, it's process and it's a group process. The feeling I got in the talks prior to this I feel really good about."
(On if he was concerned about the franchise possibly being sold)
"We were focused on the football end and the things that are important to win. Those are all those other things that are on the outskirts, but we're headed in one spot."
(On the other interviewers besides Billy Devaney being strangers and what made him feel comfortable and relaxed with them)
"When you sit there and talk, and I don't remember exactly what the timetable was, how long we spent there, but it's a gut. I don't know if I can tag that. But, everything about the process, all of the questions that they asked, all of the questions that I asked, it was just a natural smooth progression and conversation that when it was all said and done, I had a really good feeling about it."
(On what was the biggest question that he had)
"There was not one particular question. It was a wonderful experience sitting there talking with the ownership group and I was sold like, obviously, they were, that it was a good fit."
(On if there were any concerns about taking this job)
"There certainly were. I'm not going to go there now. That was part of what we did and the important thing is where we got to today."
(On if when he traveled to Los Angeles for the interview, he was interviewing more because he knew Billy or he was genuinely interested in taking the job)
"I felt very strongly heading out there. There's been a lot of success here. This is a great community. All of the research that I did said that this could be a natural fit. Now, you had to go through the process of meeting everybody and they had to feel good and lucky for me, it did work out."