ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A Los Angeles Rams assistant coach was half-kidding last week when he said coach John Robinson would have to call the news conference to announce his firing, but that's almost the way it happened.
After nine seasons, Robinson announced his resignation yesterday, effective following Sunday's season-ending game in Seattle. The announcement came a day earlier than Robinson planned after news he had told his players he would be resigning was leaked to the media.
That forced the Rams to scrap plans for a news conference today. And it could explain the trace of sarcasm in Robinson's voice when he finally faced the cameras and microphones in the Rams Park cafeteria -- with no sign of or comment from team executive vice president John Shaw or owner Georgia Frontiere, who had posed with her arm around her soon-to-be ex-coach for the 1991 team picture a half-hour earlier.
"Well, as the Rams' only spokesman these last nine years, it's my job to announce to you that I have submitted my resignation, and it has been accepted," Robinson said.
"It was a situation of mutual arrangement. Rams management and myself felt it was the right thing and the right time for this to happen. We've had a good nine years. Unfortunately, the last two years we have faltered. This year, particularly, was difficult for us. We tried to make a lot of changes in the football team, and we just didn't get it done."
Robinson, 56, leaves as the winningest coach in team history with a 79-73 record and six playoff appearances in his first seven seasons.
The Rams are 8-23 over the past two seasons, however, and will take a 3-12 record and nine-game losing streak into Sunday's game in Seattle.
Robinson signed a three-year contract extension, through the 1993 season, after last season. But he and the Rams apparently agreed weeks ago on a settlement that is believed to be worth the $550,000 he would have received had he been fired.
The Rams' 13 assistant coaches will remain on staff until a new coach is hired. The team said in its four-paragraph news release that the search for Robinson's successor would begin immediately, referring any questions on the subject to the team's public relations department.
Robinson, who has emphatically denied rumors he is interested in the coaching job at Arizona State, gave no hint as to his plans.
"I have no plans," he said.
"I do not have anything. I have not thought about it. I'm going to take some time and sit down and enjoy my life, look ahead to what's coming. Whether I stay in coaching or not, I'm not sure, but I have not talked to anyone, and I have no conversations going with any organization whatsoever. We're going to play the game in Seattle, and we're going to do the best we can."
Robinson, who came to the Rams in 1983 after seven seasons at USC, added that he enjoyed his 16 years of coaching in Southern California and made a point of thanking his former players and coaches.
In closing, Robinson said he has had a great time in both jobs and thinks he always has done well by the organizations that he's worked for.
"One of the jobs that I am giving up as of this moment is the job of Rams spokesman," he said. "Therefore, I'm not going to answer any questions. You can go to the Rams spokesman from here on out. If any of you want to talk to me tomorrow about the game in Seattle, I'd be happy to talk to you about that."