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The St. Louis Rams' coaching staff lost one of its biggest names Monday when defensive coordinator Bud Carson retired due to health concerns.

Carson, lured out of retirement by head coach Dick Vermeil a year ago, has been an NFL coach for 24 years and put together the "Steel Curtain" defense for the Pittsburgh Super Bowl champions in the mid-1970s. Carson, who'll be 67 next month, quit because asthma was slowing him down.

"It's not a big health thing, but you have to go full speed to get things done in a competitive environment like the NFL," Carson said. "I still would like to do it. I wish it was 10 years earlier."

As a head coach, Carson led the Cleveland Browns to the AFC Championship Game in 1989 with a 9-6-1 record, but was fired the subsequent year after a 2-7 start.

Carson was defensive coordinator for the Steelers from 1972-77, during which Pittsburgh won two Super Bowls. He also served in that capacity with the Baltimore Colts, Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets.

Under Carson, the Rams improved in 25 of 28 defensive categories. Vermeil replaced him with two men, choosing Peter Giunta and John Bunting co-defensive coordinators.

Giunta was secondary coach last year and Bunting, a 11-year NFL veteran who played for Vermeil in Philadelphia, coached linebackers last year. Giunta also was chosen as assistant head coach.

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