Report: Rams players support Haslett

Updated: December 29, 2008, 5:42 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

If it were up to some St. Louis Rams players, Jim Haslett would get the interim tag taken off his job title, according to a published report.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, citing unnamed team sources, reported Sunday that the Rams players have drafted a petition to owner Chip Rosenbloom, asking him to keep Haslett as the team's coach.

"He knows what we need on this team," a veteran player, speaking anonymously, told the newspaper. "He knows the strengths and the weaknesses. He knows his players in and out. He's the right guy for the job."

On Wednesday, Rams president John Shaw resigned after 29 years with the franchise and Billy Devaney was promoted to general manager.

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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. He'll also lead the search for a new head coach after the season.

"We'll start talking about things in the next couple of days, but we've said all along that it's a process and that Jim's a viable candidate," Devaney said. "We'll see where we're at probably starting tomorrow [Monday]."

Haslett, 2-9 after replacing Scott Linehan following an 0-4 start, is among the candidates.

"We have been playing hard," Devaney said. "We haven't been playing smart the whole time, we haven't been playing sound, we haven't been playing good. There's a lot of reasons, but effort's never been the question. Outmatched? Yeah, sometimes, but [with] effort, there's no question."

The newspaper reported that it's unknown when the petition will be delivered to Rosenbloom.

An unnamed Rams player said that it was important for the players to let Haslett know he had their support. Ultimately, however, the final decision rests with Rosenbloom.

"It's out of our hands. They don't pay us to make decisions on head coaches. But it's good for [Haslett] to know that we've got his back. All 53 players may not agree with it, but I think the vast majority wants this to happen," the anonymous player told the newspaper.

After leading New Orleans to its first playoff win as a rookie head coach in 2000, Haslett kept the Saints competitive until Hurricane Katrina caused them to move temporarily to San Antonio and split their 2005 "home" games at the Alamodome, LSU's Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La., and Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

New Orleans finished 3-13 that season, and Haslett was fired. He worked under Linehan as the Rams' defensive coordinator from 2006 through Week 4 of this year.

"If you want to know the truth, I've got two majors flaws I've been coaching with," Haslett said. "I take over a team after four [losses], and I coached a team during Katrina, when we were displaced. Besides that, I'll stand by the record of what we took over and what we tried to accomplish, and that's all I can do.

"If people are going to judge me based off what they've seen this season and based off the Katrina season, then so be it, but I'm no different a coach I was in 2000 or 2001 when I got into the profession as a head coach."

Added Haslett, who has a career record of 47-61: "I told them that this game will define you as a person and as a team for years to come. I thought we played about as well as we can play. The guys played their hearts out. I think the way they played will define what they are next year. These last four games, I thought we had an opportunity to win all four of them. I think this team needs to learn how to win."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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