I never understood how the City of Angels could lose not one, but two football teams. There were two primary factors that made it very difficult to comprehend, especially when you are in your late teens and think you know everything as I was. I guess none of that matters because the Rams are coming home, but it still was mind-boggling.
L.A. is about as major market as you get when it comes to sports, or heck, when it comes to anything. It’s the second largest city in America, if one percent of that population bought into anything they promoted, it seems like it would be enough to solve poverty, isn’t that right Philipe Andolini?
Also, when I was a kid, the Los Angeles Rams — and Raiders for that matter — were sick. The Raiders had two things going for them. One, in the early part of the decade (the 1980s) they were a beast offensively and defensively capturing a Super Bowl. Secondly, in the latter part of the decade, when they were mediocre, they had Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen in the backfield. If you didn’t enjoy watching them, you didn’t like football, plain and simple. And you should also have had your Tecmo Bowl playing rights taken away from you, end of story.
Now the Rams, this was one of the elite NFC teams for pretty much my entire formative years of football. The Rams were terrible in 1982, which was just three years removed from their lone Super Bowl appearance (of course, Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk and The Greatest Show on Turf would go twice, but they were St. Louis). The Rams did two things that changed their course: hired John Robinson as coach and drafted Eric Dickerson with the second pick of the draft.
They Rams had one big problem, and he was just a bit north of them. His name was Joe Montana.
Like Michael Jordan did to so many people in his reign in the NBA, the Rams had the misfortune of playing second fiddle to Montana, Bill Walsh, Jerry Rice and Roger Craig in the 49ers most dominant era of football. You have to wonder — at least I always have — how great that Rams team could have been. In any other division, they likely would have won it and gotten a bye in the playoffs, which could have changed the course of their history.
Those 80s Rams offenses were fun to watch. Jim Everett was one of those gun slinger-types, a quarterback just on the cusp of greatness, but he threw so many darn picks that it seemingly kept him on the cusp of elite. He also beat up Jim Rome, which made him one of my favorite athletes ever.
Dickerson, well, if you didn’t know who he was, he would have told you how great he was. He was that kind of persona. And it was well deserved.
Dickerson would rush for 1808 yards AS A ROOKIE, and cap it off in his second year — the year many refer to as “the sophomore slump” — by setting the all-time rushing mark at 2,105 yards. That mark still stands today.
The wide receiving core was pretty fun to watch as well. Henry Ellard seems like one of those guys that should find his way to Canton some day and leaves you scratching your head when he doesn’t. He did lead the league in receiving once, but he was one of those models of consistency, a Tim Brown type of receiver. Nothing flashy, but always there for the big catch.
And then there was Flipper.
Willie Anderson, known as Flipper which is just awesome in his own right, ended the Giants playoff run that year with one of the more memorable runoff catches in NFL history. He also caught 336 receiving yards in a single game. Think about how silly that is and the fact that only Calvin Johnson came close in recent history. Megatron and Flipper. That’s just fun.
Their defense was always marginal but they did have superstars like Kevin Greene and LeRoy Irvin come through. Greene should make the Hall of Fame this year, at least he has my vote.
Don’t get me wrong. The Greatest Show on Turf was fun to watch, but that was a short lived era of football. The years surrounding that four-year run have been rather drab and ho hum… and in St. Louis. For me, St. Louis is the Cardinals town, and not the ones with Neil Lomax and Stump Mitchell who moved to Arizona.
When I think about the Rams, I think about those 80s teams, the ones that played in LA. This is where they belong.