They didn't have to go far to talk it over on the night Chuck Knox resigned. They didn't even have to pick up the phone. They were together, as usual. Chuck's guys, eating dinner together.
Joe Vitt, George Dyer, Rod Perry and Chick Harris had just shared dinner, and when their head coach quit the Seattle Seahawks, they shared the same response: Where he goes, they go.
"I can remember the night Chuck resigned in Seattle," Vitt says. "Just by coincidence, Chick, George and Rod were all over at my house eating together. We always kind of hung around together."
Then Knox got hired by the Rams, and he asked the four--plus Seattle offensive coordinator John Becker--to hang around together with him in Anaheim.
Though they all say they enjoyed living in Seattle and had the opportunity to stay under new Coach Tom Flores, it was not a difficult decision. He asked, they went.
"When we were asked to come down here with Chuck, there was a real concern that we would all want to stick together and come down together," says Vitt, now the Rams' assistant head coach/safeties. "We've all worked with each other for a long time, we know each other's strengths, our weaknesses.
"I think the most important thing is when times are tough, we've all stuck together, and I think players notice that and it's been good for us."
The times were toughest in the days immediately before and after Knox's resignation. His loyal lieutenants didn't know where Knox would end up, didn't know if they should commit to staying in Seattle, didn't know if they could all stay together.
Flores wanted fast decisions.
"We were back and forth on the phones early in the morning, late at night, just trying to figure out when it was going to happen and when we had to make decisions on coming down," says Harris, who also was Knox's running backs coach in Buffalo and Seattle. "Oh, the decision was easy. The only decision I had was with my children. This was the first time I was going to be away from them.
"But they know how much I enjoy working with Chuck. It was no problem. My 11-year-old son said, 'Go get it, Dad, you and Coach Knox can't be apart from each other.' "
How fast did these guys make up their minds? All five former Seattle assistants were at Rams Park the day after Knox was announced as the Rams' new coach. Knox's first day was spent at a hotel in Beverly Hills, so, more than symbolically, Knox and his five Seattle men arrived at Rams Park together, Jan. 9, to start again.
By the time a week was over, Knox's group had jumped right into their new jobs, assumed their offices, and gone to work wearing blue and gold.
Knox seemed to have the heart of his new staff in place with the snap of his fingers. Vitt, Dyer and Perry took over the defense, Harris moved into the offensive staff and Becker came over as the team's college scouting czar.
For a man who treasures loyalty over almost anything else, Knox had the nucleus of his Rams staff transplanted immediately, and he knew without a doubt they were all loyal.
Where so many new staffs are patched-together quilts of coaches who take weeks and months and sometimes years to get used to each other, trust each other, Knox's Ram staff had five Seattle coaches to make it happen now.
"I think the first thing you look at, you talk about Rod Perry, Joe Vitt, Chick Harris, John Becker, the guys who came down here, those four guys, first of all they're great people," says Dyer, the defensive line coach in Buffalo and Seattle, now the Rams' defensive coordinator.
"They're honest people, they're tough people, they're fair people. Then you add to it, they're very talented coaches. Loyal. They've got all the qualities you'd like to have in anybody you knew.
"There's a great, great amount of trust among us. You know somebody will always be at your back, and you will always be at somebody's back. I think that in itself is the root of everything.
"You've got to have that bond. Got to have it."
Knox spent a decade as an NFL assistant before getting his first shot with the Rams as head coach in 1973. And he takes tremendous pride in putting together assistants who do not quarrel with each other and blend into a seamless working unit.
One of the main reasons, team insiders acknowledge, that Knox, after a day to think it over, fired last year's Ram defensive coordinator Jeff Fisher, was that he did not think the fiery, vocal Fisher fit in with his idea of a team player.
"I think it's important for a coaching staff to be close," Knox says. "Not that everybody has to think alike, because you want to get the best of the individual thinking that each particular coach has."
And you have to understand that the idea of being a Knox assistant is that the team always comes first. Under Knox, there never seem to be the kind of battles that bloody other NFL staffs.
Knox does not appreciate coaches who, elbowing for the spotlight and thinking of a future as a head coach, try to hog the publicity that he believes should rightfully go to everyone on the staff.