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Basking in the shimmer of new title

Rams' Warner talks of Super Bowl repeat. Vermeil shrugs off questions about retirement.

Even in this age of Hollywood makeovers and old television shows brought back to life for the big screen, there hasn't been a sequel to Cinderella.

St. Louis quarterback Kurt Warner hopes to change that. The day after bringing his improbable season to a fairy tale end by becoming the most valuable player of Super Bowl XXXIV, Warner said he wants to replicate the effort with a second championship in Tampa's Raymond James Stadium next year.

"I don't know if there's any other way to do it better than we did it this year than to be able to repeat next year," said Warner, who met with the media Monday morning and picked up the Ford truck he received for being MVP.

But if the Rams are to repeat, they may have to get past the Bucs first. No one gave St. Louis a tougher game in the Trans World Dome than Tampa Bay, which lost 11-6 in the NFC Championship Game.

Not only will the Bucs pose a challenge, but in this copycat league, other teams will look to duplicate what Tampa Bay did in limiting St. Louis to one touchdown.

"I think it is going to be harder next year," Warner said. "Obviously, we are going to have a tougher schedule. We are going to play against the better teams in the league. Our schedule is going to be mixed up playing on different nights.

"But I think it's going to be hard for teams to do what Tampa Bay did. (The Bucs) have done it for a long time. They have got a lot of great personnel in their defense. I don't think there are a lot of teams out there that have the weapons defensively and the speed to really do that and perfect it the way they have to stop us every week."

Rams coach Dick Vermeil said his team will be up to the task of a first-place schedule and playing on Monday and Sunday nights. Part of his confidence stems from St. Louis having only three unrestricted free agents (tackle Fred Miller, center Mike Gruttadauria and cornerback Todd Lyght) and three restricted free agents (cornerbacks Billy Jenkins and Dexter McCleon, and guard Tom Nutten).

"I am a big sign guy, okay," Vermeil said. "I started that at Dale High School. I've always had signs on the wall, just little sayings for (the players) to look at, and one we have is, "We don't care where we play, who we play and when we play; the only thing we care about is how we play.' "

For Warner, Monday also included a trip to Disney World and a flight to Hawaii for this weekend's Pro Bowl.

Given Warner's story, one would think he came out of Disney World.

Five years ago, Warner was stocking groceries for $5.50 an hour in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and his future wife, Brenda, was on food stamps. Now the couple is reveling in victory and its rewards, which should include a new, lucrative contract.

But money wasn't on Warner's mind Monday.

"I know there were some things throughout the season that (my agents) kind of kept until the off-season, so I will probably find out more in the next couple of weeks," Warner said.

"I want to take advantage of some things where I can go out and share my story a little bit, share my faith in God with some people and get an opportunity to use the position that has come upon me to touch the people's lives in that way."

It's not clear if Vermeil will be back with St. Louis next season. Vermeil, 63, the oldest coach of a Super Bowl-winning team, wasn't giving clues about his plans.

"First thing I am going to do is give some thought to getting home and getting myself reorganized," he said. "It is much better to be talking about that than answering questions about getting fired, which I have done for two years.

"I didn't give those questions much thought, and I haven't given your question much thought. Right now the only thing on my mind is to get home and enjoy this experience with my organization and football team."

The usually emotional Vermeil cried during his media conference when asked if he cried after the Rams won. Vermeil said he kept his composure until his brother Alan reminded him that his late mother told him he would return to coaching and win a Super Bowl.

Vermeil shed a few more tears after greeting Brent Musburger and some family friends after the news conference. Musburger was Vermeil's longtime broadcast partner with ABC before Vermeil decided to get back into coaching.

"To know him is to know one of the great human beings," Musburger said. "Dick Vermeil is just a wonderful, wonderful person, and I think that's why he will think about leaving because his wife will probably want to go back to a more relaxed lifestyle.

"It's a jump ball. I think Carol will have strong input into it. On the other hand, you know, he's got two more years on his contract. The city of St. Louis is a Midwestern town, and they're going to love him to death."

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