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RAMS' VERMEIL VOTED NFL'S COACH OF THE YEAR

In a vote conducted on the internet, Dick Vermeil of the St. Louis Rams won the NFL Coach of the Year award Thursday.

"This is a humbling experience that I share with my entire coaching staff," Vermeil said.

Vermeil, who joined the Rams in 1996 after 14 years away from coaching, guided a team that was 4-12 last season to the NFC's best record and two playoff victories that advanced hem into Sunday's Super Bowl.

More than 400,000 NFL fans took part in the only major award determined exclusively by on-line voting.
Steve McNair's left toe is feeling better. No matter -- he's still not allowed to run the opening two-minute drill in practice for the Tennessee Titans.

The quarterback moved around easily and handled 80 percent of the snaps Thursday, but his superstitious coach assigned the first two-minute session to backup Neil O'Donnell while McNair watched.

"He has not done it in eight weeks, and we've continued to win," coach Jeff Fisher said.

With temperatures in the 40s, about 20 degrees warmer than Wednesday, the Titans practiced for 2 hours, 15 minutes at Georgia Tech wearing sweat shirts and pants.

Meanwhile, the Rams worked out for more than two hours at the Falcons' practice facility in suburban Suwanee. Defensive end Grant Wistrom and wide receiver Torry Holt, both nursing shoulder injuries, returned to workouts after being held out a day earlier.

With two to four inches of snow expected today, the Titans and Rams were given permission to move today's and Saturday's workouts to the Georgia Dome.
The wintry weather has done more than send a chill through the Super Bowl.

It reminded NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue that it's risky to move the game north of Atlanta -- especially to cities without a domed stadium. Charlotte and Nashville have considered bidding for the game, but neither facility has a roof.

"This week could have an impact on some Northern cities that were hoping to get the game in an open-air stadium," Tagliabue said Thursday. "This shows us that winter is still winter in the United States."
Titans owner Bud Adams isn't about to let the coach that got him to his first Super Bowl in 40 seasons of football get away. Fisher has one year left on his contract, and Adams said he is ready to sign Fisher to an extension before anyone else can grab him.

"I have it right here, a new contract," Adams said at a news conference, pulling some papers from his pocket. "I just get him to sign it, and I'll feel better."

Adams said hopes to work out the details as soon as the two can meet following the Super Bowl on Sunday.
The NFL handed out Super Bowl assignments to a crew that includes head linesman Earnie Frantz and line judge Byron Boston, both of whom were involved in controversies over the past two seasons. The crew will be headed by Bob McElwee, who will referee his third Super Bowl in his 24-year career.

Boston is the official who ruled Frank Wycheck's pass to Kevin Dyson a lateral on the 75-yard kickoff return that helped Tennessee defeat the Bills in the wild-card round.

Frantz is the official who ruled Vinny Testaverde had crossed the goal line to score the winning touchdown late last season in the Jets' victory over the Seattle Seahawks. Several television replays showed the call was wrong. The ruling was one of a handful that led to an outcry for instant replay.

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