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Feeling Groovy : Former Ram Everett Is Happy in New Orleans Despite 2-5 Record


No one asked about the Phantom Sack or called him "Chris," and so Wednesday's conference call with quarterback Jim Everett before Sunday's game between his former team and his present team allowed him to put on a happy face about his departure rather than defend those allegedly happy feet.

"It's been a blessing for me," Everett said. "I've had a chance to learn a brand-new system. I've had a chance to be with some new guys and I think the whole situation has just been very healthy for me as a person and football player."

Everett went from the Rams to New Orleans in March in exchange for a 1995 seventh-round draft pick.

"There's probably more to it than that, but I'm not going to make any comment on it," Everett said. "That was adequate compensation."

The Rams had been asking for a second-round pick for Everett but found no takers. Everett insisted on playing elsewhere, however, and agreed to drop a $350,000 payment owed to him by the Rams this year in exchange for the Rams' promise to trade him to the city of his choice.

"All of a sudden Jim became available to us, and I said this is a no-lose situation," Saint Coach Jim Mora said.

"Gawd-dang, we're getting this guy for a seventh-round pick; you got to be kidding me.

"We talked to coaches that had coached Jim, that are not with the Rams anymore, and God, everybody just raved about the guy. We liked him, and we went back and looked at films of him having great games the past two years. There was Houston last year and the game with the Cowboys. . . . Hey, we got to get this guy."

The Rams were happy to oblige after paying Chris Miller $9 million for three years to replace Everett.

Everett has refrained from taking swipes at the Ram organization or blaming anyone else for his difficulties. However, recent remarks indicate he was not very happy playing for Chuck Knox.

"I think, by far, John Robinson was the best head coach I've ever had," Everett was quoted as saying. "I'm also very excited about playing for Coach Mora. And I'll look forward to playing against Chuck Knox."

Asked about such sentiments, Everett said Wednesday: "I don't ever make this a personal thing with Chuck. Chuck is a coach in the NFL and makes decisions and I'm a player and that's how it goes. If you're not winning, for whatever reason that might be, things have to change. I'm sure if I had been 16-0 there with the Rams and had a couple of Super Bowl rings, Chuck wouldn't even be there."

Said Knox: "I'm not going to get into new starts and old starts. We're where we are right now, and we have to go from here."

Shortly after being traded to the Saints, Everett appeared with talk-show host Jim Rome on ESPN2. But the show lasted only a few minutes because Rome insisted on calling Everett "Chris," which prompted Everett to turn over a table and go after Rome.

Everett, whose reputation was tarnished after falling to the ground to avoid being hit in the NFC championship game against San Francisco after the 1989 season, finished 1993 with a 3-6 mark in games he started while completing 135 of 274 passes for 1,652 yards and eight touchdowns, with 12 interceptions.

But the Everett remembered best by Mora passed for 454 yards in the Superdome four years earlier in bringing the Rams back from a 17-3 deficit with five minutes to play for an overtime victory.

"I have always had a great deal of respect for him as a player," Mora said.

After coming within a victory of leading the Rams to the Super Bowl after the 1989 season, Everett's Rams compiled a 19-45 record. Everett's Saints are 2-5.

"The Rams went through a couple of years where they didn't have very good players," Mora said. "Jim suffered because of this and it hurt him. I don't care who you are, you better have a supporting cast."

Everett, who lost his job a year ago to T.J. Rubley, has prospered in New Orleans despite not having a quality running attack. He has completed 62.8% of his passes, passed for nine touchdowns with seven interceptions and has compiled more passing yardage (1,765) than any other quarterback in the NFC except Atlanta's Jeff George.

"I feel I'm playing very good," Everett said. "I feel I'm playing very confident. I still base my performance on wins and losses, so I'm still trying to deal with that, but I do feel we have a better football team than our 2-5 record."

Everett looked ahead to this reunion with the Rams with excitement after being traded, but now he's downplaying the personal significance of the meeting.

"This is more than a personal battle; it's a division rival, a game we have to win as far as keeping our playoff hopes alive," he said. "It's also an important game because it's a team I used to play for. I know a lot of guys and I know what they have had to endure over the past few seasons. I can feel for them. It looks like they're making good strides and I'm happy for them.

"I'm not vindicative. I'm not bitter, I'm not any of those things. If anything, I want to see my ex-teammates do well."

But what about the good times gone sour?

"The experiences I had as a Ram quarterback were fabulous," Everett said. "And the negative experiences I had there were valuable for me as a man. Yeah, it was living hell, but now I'm a better man because of it."

Jim Everett in 1994

Date Opp Result Att Com Yds TD Int Sep. 4 KC L, 30-17 37 26 326 2 2 Sep. 11 Wash L, 38-24 46 31 376 2 1 Sep. 18 TB W, 9-7 19 10 108 0 0 Sep. 25 SF L, 24-13 55 31 291 1 2 Oct. 2 NYG W, 27-22 30 20 249 1 1 Oct. 9 Chi L, 17-7 39 22 209 1 1 Oct. 16 SD L, 36-22 35 24 206 2 0 Totals W-L: 2-5 261 164 1,765 9 7

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