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Ortmayer out as Rams vice president of football operations

January 24, 1997

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Dick Vermeil, coach of the St. Louis Rams for a matter of hours, fired vice president of football operations Steve Ortmayer.

Vermeil was hired Tuesday as coach and president of football operations, and officially took over Thursday. He wasted no time in firing Ortmayer, who had acted as general manager since the move to St. Louis two years ago.

``The Rams are putting together a new organization, a new program,″ Vermeil said. ``There are new people bringing in new personnel. Steve should be recognized for the contribution he made to the Rams’ organization. However, I have not worked with Steve before and I have someone I am familiar with in mind for that position.″

Ortmayer took the firing in stride.

``I know we’ve done some things that are very credible here,″ he told KSDK-TV. ``He certainly has the right to make his own choices.″

Ortmayer, 52, was responsible for all aspects of the Rams’ football operations, including trades and draft picks.

Results have been mixed. Under Ortmayer’s guidance, the Rams drafted quarterback Tony Banks and receiver Eddie Kennison in 1996, and both emerged as starters early in the season.

But he also used the No. 6 overall pick to take running back Lawrence Phillips, who struggled on the field and has run into trouble off the field. And Ortmayer traded Jerome Bettis to Pittsburgh for next to nothing. Bettis was among the NFL’s leading runners this season.

The Rams were 7-9 and 6-10 during Ortmayer’s tenure. Coach Rich Brooks was fired in December for that performance.

Prior to joining the Rams, Ortmayer was involved in football operations and was a special teams coach for the then-Los Angeles Raiders. He has been involved in the NFL for 22 years in coaching, scouting, drafting and administrative positions.

Vermeil is moving quickly to assemble his staff. He already has hired Jerry Rhome as offensive coordinator, Dick Coury as wide receivers coach and Frank Gansz as special teams coach.

Rusty Tillman, special teams coach for Oakland, is reportedly Vermeil’s pick for defensive coordinator. He has been a defensive coordinator in the past for Seattle and Tampa Bay.

Vermeil has said he hopes to have his staff in place by this week.

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