Rams name Devaney as GM; Shaw resigns as team president

Updated: December 24, 2008, 10:52 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Rams president John Shaw resigned after 29 years with the franchise and Billy Devaney was promoted to general manager Wednesday.

The two moves in a front-office overhaul by a franchise that's been among the NFL's worst the past few seasons followed the resignation Monday of Jay Zygmunt as president of football operations. The Rams are 2-13 heading into Sunday's finale at Atlanta, and are 5-26 the past two seasons.

Shaw, team president since 1994 and de facto president since 1983 when owner Georgia Frontiere also held that title, will be retained as a senior advisor and owner's representative based in Los Angeles. In a telephone interview with The Associated Press, Shaw said he was not forced out, but rather "quite to the contrary."

"This is something I wanted to do," Shaw said. "I just feel like it's time for the organization to make a change."

Devaney, who has 23 years of NFL scouting experience, will be responsible for all player personnel decisions, including the draft, free agent acquisitions, trades and other transactions.

Devaney, who has been acting as GM for most of the past two months, will head the team's coaching search. The list of candidates will include Jim Haslett, who replaced Scott Linehan after an 0-4 start and produced two quick victories, but appears to have no better than an outside shot at being retained, according to ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen.

"I am very grateful to Rams ownership for giving me this opportunity to help return the team to an elite position in the National Football League," Devaney said in a statement. "This is an organization that has historically had a winning tradition, and it is our goal to get back to that level."

Devaney is finishing his first season with the Rams after two years with the Atlanta Falcons as senior personnel executive in 2006 and assistant GM in 2007. During his career, Devaney has been associated with teams that went to three Super Bowls and 19 playoff games.

"One of the best things that happened to the Rams during this difficult season was the hiring of Billy Devaney to our front office team," owner and chairman Chip Rosenbloom said in a statement. "We are very fortunate to have someone with Billy's character and intelligence taking control of the football side of this organization."

In his new capacity, Shaw will advise and consult with ownership and represent the club on virtually all league matters, as well as other team affairs, the Rams said.

Shaw, 57, is in his 29th season with the Rams, joining the team as controller and treasurer in 1980. He oversaw the move from Los Angeles to St. Louis in 1995 and helped produce the franchise's first Super Bowl championship after the 1999 season.

Those rank as his two top achievements, along with five 10-plus win seasons in a six-year span from 1984-89 in Los Angeles.

"Obviously, winning a Super Bowl is the biggest thing," Shaw said. "Successfully moving the franchise was an exciting time for all of us, and the reception we got was very edifying for me.

"I've had the good fortune of being surrounded by great owners from the very beginning."

Shaw believes the Rams can be quickly turned around, just as the Falcons (10-5), Dolphins (10-5) and Jets (9-6) have this year. Those three teams had the first, third and sixth pick in April's draft.

"You can't have these jobs without having that belief that you can do it," Shaw said. "And don't forget, we won only four games the year before we won the Super Bowl."

Shaw remained based in Los Angeles long after the franchise cut ties to the West Coast, and without apology, noting he could cite several examples of owners who didn't live in the same town as their franchise.

"If I thought it was important to be in St. Louis more, I would have been there more," Shaw said.

He stepped down after one season under Rosenbloom, who inherited the team along with his sister after Frontiere's death in January.

Rosenbloom said Shaw was "like another son" to his mother and credited those two with fighting the NFL to move the team to St. Louis.

"I would like every fan in St. Louis to know that without John Shaw there is no St. Louis Rams," Rosenbloom said. "He is one of the most important and influential executives in the modern NFL."

Information from ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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