The Todd Hewitt Saga is ALIVE!
Mr. Hewitt started working for the eventual St. Louis Rams in Los Angeles in 1978, when he was just 11 years old and his father was the Equipment Manager. He knew no other employer but the Rams until he was fired by then-Head-Coach Steve Spagnuolo in 2011.
In between, he moved his family from LA to STL to stay with the team, won Equipment Manager of the Year in 1997, and earned the admiration of many inside and outside the Rams for his professionalism and dedication to a job that isn't necessarily sexy, but is essential in football. His dismissal was abrupt, perplexing, but mostly cold.
Here's what Spags said about the termination: "We have decided not to retain Todd Hewitt and Chuck Faucette (former conditioning coach) going forward in 2011. We appreciate their efforts in the past and wish them well in the future."
No dead hookers.
No dirty HGH needles.
No selling Kurt Warner's used jocks for poker cash.
The coach just wanted to go in a different direction for 2011. Nothing further on the matter, even when he was pressed. Just a terse statement about going in a different direction, like he was taking a new route to work or something.
14 losses later, Spags met the same fate from his boss. Yet we still didn't really have any closure on what the hell happened with Hewitt. He'd done a few TV interviews, but the long and short of those was that Hewitt was genuinely baffled about why he got the boot. More than that, he seemed hurt that a team he'd dedicated his life to was so callous towards him... especially brutal when he and many others thought he was doing—if not excellent—at least good work.
Looks like after over a year of searching, Todd Hewitt thinks he's got some answers. And he's decided to sue for age discrimination. Let's go to ESPN for the choice cuts:
"Mr. Spagnuolo also told Mr. Hewitt that his employment was 'NFL' which means 'Not For Long' employment," the lawsuit stated.
"The lawsuit claims that at least six other Rams employees were fired or forced into retirement during Spagnuolo's time with the team, people ranging from a 54-year-old trainer to a 70-year-old head of security."
Not For Long, Spags? You're ripping off Jerry Glanville material?
I think that's about one step up from ripping off Dane Cook.
The lawsuit filings also allude to the fact that Hewitt would have been eligible for some pretty sweet benefits had he stayed employed another few months, causing suspicion that perhaps this was a cost cutting move by the team and not just some dickery from the head coach.
But when we head back over to that ESPN article, we see more claims of Spags being a douche—"including in 2009, when he told him he was too old for his job." Yes, Hewitt is 55. Not 75 or 85, but 55 years old. At the time those comments were made he was 53. In case you're wondering, Spags is 53 now, a whole two years younger than Hewitt.
I have neither the time nor the inclination to look up every Equipment Manger in the NFL and try to figure out their median age. But I'm finding it REAL hard to believe that 53 years old is too old to physically perform at this job. Maybe you wouldn't want to be picking up spare mouthpieces for college-age kids when you're 50+, but still, you probably could if you wanted to.
Let's talk turkey here: Todd Hewitt is going to lose this case. He's not going to get a dime from the Rams or Steve Spagnuolo because in Missouri you can be fired when your employer says they want you fired. Sucks, for sure. But it's the law and the Rams were/are (probably) within their rights to employ whoever the hell they wanted as the Equipment Manager.
But that doesn't mean that one of the all-time biggest Rams losers isn't coming out of it looking like a gigantic ass.
Because, frankly, he is. I go back to that point about firing guys who are team lifers because you've got something to prove. Just because the 53 men in the locker room didn't want to play hard for Spags didn't mean he had the right to take it out on people who were weaker and in no position to fight back.
Now maybe Spags comes out during this case and gives us a bullet-pointed list of the reasons why Todd Hewitt was terminated. And if he does and if those reasons are reasonable, I'll write an apology letter to him in this very space. But the fact that Spags has had multiple opportunities to defend his actions and has chosen not to speaks volumes.
Because of Steve Spagnuolo, the Rams might be moving out of St. Louis. Crazy? Maybe.
True? I think so.
Think about it. Dude took an eroding fan base and pissed on it for three years, driving scores more people from having anything to do with the team. And now, with the Rams needing the fans to drive interest in a new stadium project, public apathy about the team moving is at an all-time high. I'd imagine if the Rams had been competitive these past 3 years we'd be looking at much more interest in getting the stadium deal done.
Another rebuilding project.
But Todd Hewitt. That was the big problem at Rams Park.
No—actually, it was Spags. A man who had the Rams' Super Bowl photos stripped from the lobby at Rams Park in the midst of another losing season, instead of focusing on getting his team better. A man who refused to make his players accountable on the field for continued mistakes. A man who blew the already-tepid trust of the fans by refusing to admit any fault in his stewardship of this franchise.
That was the real problem. And the further out from his three-year run we get, the worse it smells.
t's a 100-to-1 long shot, but we're rooting you on, Todd. Take down The Man and win one for all of us who have been screwed for no good reason. And while you're in court, make sure to catch up on those Four Pillars, too.
Let us know how those are holding up.