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Loss to Packers Becomes a Crying Game : Rams: Defensive captain Newman vents anger, sheds tears in attempt to motivate his teammates after rout.

September 07, 1993|T.J. SIMERS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

It had been more than 24 hours since Green Bay slapped the Rams with a 36-6 opening-day defeat, and there was still no consoling safety Anthony Newman.

Newman, recently elected defensive team captain, vented his anger during a meeting of defensive backs Monday.

Joe Vitt, Ram assistant head coach, and Newman left the meeting and could be seen in animated discussion on the team's practice field.

"There's a boiling point and it just finally got to me," Newman said. "I'm a man now, but it makes me cry. If you didn't care about something so much you wouldn't feel that way, but this hurts.

"I couldn't sleep when I got home last night. I talked to Flipper (Anderson) today and we were saying, 'We're tired of this.' I mean, I just can't come off the plane feeling like this anymore. I said to myself, this cannot happen anymore."

Newman, who is beginning his sixth year with the Rams, has experienced three consecutive losing seasons.

"Yeah, I shed a few tears today," Newman said. "Sometimes you get so mad you're going to shed tears. I don't blow up that often, but sometimes it's good to get your feelings out so long as you don't hurt anyone.

"It's just that people don't always understand how important all this is to some of us. If it wasn't for my wife and mother telling me, 'You did all right,' I mean you'd explode. I know we're a better team, and it's like I have 50 brothers here, and I want to do what I can to help them win."

Newman, who must keep his emotions in check on the field because of his responsibility to make defensive calls in the secondary, spoke to his defensive teammates on the field after practice without any coaches present.

A few moments later, the gathering broke with some sort of barking cheer.

"These are my guys . . . this is my family," Newman said. "Now I know why the coaches are so down when we lose. These are their guys, these are my guys and I want only good things to happen for them. I can't have my guys going through what we went through against Green Bay.

"I was on the plane flying home and I was asking myself, 'How did they score 36 points against us?' This defense is too good to have that happen. It won't happen, it can't happen."

Newman and the Rams had high hopes for a better start on defense this season after signing three players via free agency, but those three were standing on the sideline Sunday after being hurt.

"I got hit on a trap play and I couldn't feel my shoulder," said defensive end Fred Stokes, who was signed from Washington. "It just went numb, and I couldn't go."

Stokes said he will play against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, but linebacker Shane Conlan (groin) and linebacker Henry Rolling (broken thumb) might be sidelined. Starting cornerback Darryl Henley suffered a torn pectoral muscle, but Coach Chuck Knox said he has been advised that Henley might return to practice Thursday.

"We played well defensively for most of the game, but then we would give up the big play," Knox said. "And we didn't tackle well. We fell down a lot. We changed our cleats, but that didn't seem to help us."

Knox said he counted 30 slips by his players on the Milwaukee County Stadium turf after reviewing videotape of the game.

"Certainly, we have to become more effective offensively," Knox said, while making it clear he wasn't using the turf as an excuse for the loss. "You're not going to win a football game if you can't score a touchdown."

Knox sidestepped all questions regarding possible lineup changes, but he said running back Jerome Bettis will get more playing time.

And what do you tell Ram fans?

"I don't know if there's a whole lot you can tell people," Knox said. "We didn't play well . . . There are no excuses to be made. As the head guy I'm responsible. We just have to get back at it."

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