Western Courier

Rams May not return to Macomb

Neil Kessler

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Macomb could lose the St. Louis Rams summer training camp to Wisconsin because of a change in the leadership of the organization.Rams head coach Dick Vermiel said in a St. Louis press conference that he was interested in moving the camp to Wisconsin to be able to scrimmage other NFL teams that train there.

“We are not ruling out Western at this point, and no decision has been made,” Rick Smith, Rams director of public relations, said.

Vermiel was hired last Tuesday after Rich Brooks, the coach who brought the Rams to Macomb, was fired after a 6-10 season.

Larry Mortier, WIU vice president of advancement and public service, said this was just a one-sentence comment at the end of a longer press conference. He said it is premature to say the Rams are not returning. “It is only natural that the coach would reevaluate the decision and do what he thinks is best for the team.”

“I am very optimistic. I don’t see any problem, it is just a matter of going back to the drawing board to sell them again,” Randy Ball, WIU head football coach, said. “Once they see what we have to offer, there is no question.”

Both Mortier and Ball anticipate having coach Vermeil come to Macomb to see the facilities in the next few weeks.

Two of the other schools in the bid for the training camp last year were in Wisconsin. The new coach also is familiar with the Wisconsin cheese league from his experience with sports broadcasting.

The Chiefs, Bears, Saints and Packers are members of the cheese league and have summer camps in Wisconsin.

Before the coaching change in the Rams organization, they anticipated a return to Macomb. According to the Associated Press, Brooks was 98 percent sure that he would return to Macomb for another season.

The Rams drew approximately 16,498 people from nine states to the Macomb area during the month of the camp, according to Beth Campbell of the Macomb Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“No doubt that it drew a lot of people to town,” said Macomb Mayor Tom Carper. He added that the positive press Macomb received drew attention to the city, county and western Illinois. “It was good for the city and the Rams.

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Rams May not return to Macomb