The Miracle of the Rams!
When the Rams moved to Anaheim, most of them thought that it is where they would be forever. They seemed to have been doing well enough playing in the beautiful Coliseum, and while they had not won a championship in 1951, they did have some exciting teams and some winning seasons.
When the Rams were here before, the offenses were way ahead of the defenses. A typical score might be 55-45. There were longer runs, longer completed passes and dramatically fewer penalties. Today’s NFL fans cannot really let themselves get excited after a spectacular play until they determine whether or not a penalty was called. Usually one was, and the spectacular play was all for naught.
At that time, I lived within walking distance of USC and the Coliseum. You could attend either of their games for about ﬁve dollars, and you could walk up to the booth and pick up your tickets. Life was simpler than, and we did not realize that it was going to get much, much more complicated.
The old Rams were always fun to watch, even when the teams were never as good as the Green Bay Packers, although they did beat them once. The Packers were the Lords of the NFL. All of the players on the team were terriﬁed by the legendary Coach Vince Lombardi. One of my friends, a former USC and Rams player was traded to the Green Bay Packers. He was on the team when the Packers defeated the Raiders to win the Super Bowl. He explained to me that during his ﬁ rst eight weeks as a Packer, Lombardi would make him run until he passed out. However, he was able to survive and his team won the Super Bowl during the year that he was there.
Anyway, once the Rams moved to Anaheim, most of us felt that it was time to close the book. The rumors were that Carroll Rosenbloom, the owner of the Rams, was offered a sweetheart deal to move the team to Anaheim. That city was reported to be doing everything that it could to make Anaheim the ultimate destination for the tourists who came to California. We would later learn that Mr. Rosenbloom had a lot of Donald Sterling in him.
However, something in paradise went wrong. The team did not do well there, although they had Eric Dickerson. So, they again moved the team, this time they landed in St. Louis Missouri, the Gateway to the West. They had some great years there, including one when they won the Super Bowl. Their nickname, for part of the time they were in St. Louis was “The Fastest Game on Turf”. They were fun to watch, and they were coached by Crying Dick Vermeil.
However, even in the paradise of mid-America, there were still some problems. The team lost some of its winning mojo and as a result, the fans stopped coming to the games. The Rams felt that a new stadium would help them to solve all of their problems, and they ask the local taxpayers to build them one, or they would leave and come back to Los Angeles. However, they did not believe that the Rams would actually leave, since every team that wanted a new stadium built threatened to move to Los Angeles.
The owner of the Rams found a powerful ally in Inglewood’s brilliant Mayor James T. Butts. The Mayor knew an opportunity when he saw one, and he mobilized all of the forces of his city and helped to ﬁnd a home for them. They were not a great team, but they soon would be playing and possibly the best football stadium in the world.
The Rams brought with them essentially the same team, and the same coach that had been unable to win in St. Louis. They also proved that they could not win in Inglewood. So, things did not look good, since rebuilding a team in the NFL is a long, painful process. If you don’t believe me, then ask the owners of the Cleveland Browns, the Washington Redskins and the New York Jets. It is not easy.
To make things worse, they had a rookie quarterback, and everyone knows that is a recipe for disaster. However, they took their second year quarterback, and their ﬁrst year head coach, and set out to ﬁnd their fortunes. It was like playing Trick or Treat, in real life. Things did not start out well for the team. Both since the youthful McVey did not know that he could not win, he actually started doing so.
Unbelievably, the Rams improved in every facet of the game, and I am not kidding, they sit alone at the top of their Division. It now seems likely that they will be a playoff contender, they may even have fantasies about going to the Super Bowl.
You may laugh, but I won’t, because they have already done the impossible.