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Relocated NFL Teams: The Los Angeles Rams

The Los Angeles Rams were an American professional football team that was based in Los Angeles from 1946 to 1994. The team had earlier played for seven seasons (1937-1945) in Cleveland where they were known as the Cleveland Rams. The team had been named after the Fordham Rams, the football team of the University of Fordham. On January 1946, team owner Dan Reeves relocated the Rams to Los Angeles where they would play at the 100,000 capacity Memorial Coliseum. The team was renamed the Los Angeles Rams and had to travel 2000 miles to the nearest NFL franchise at the time.

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One of the conditions for the Rams to play at the Los Angeles Coliseum was that they embrace racial integration. In a bid to meet the Coliseum commission’s condition, the Rams signed Kenny Washington and Woody Strode from UCLA. This made the Rams the first NFL team in the NFL after World War II to sign black players. Washington and Strode had been best friends in UCLA and Washington insisted that the Rams would either sign both of them or none. The NFL soon after lifted the 13 year old ban on teams playing black players.

The Rams were not a particularly successful team on the field. During their near half-a-century stay in Los Angeles, they made it to the Super Bowl a single time and failed to win it. However they had won the original NFL championship in 1951 before the introduction of the super Bowl. In total, they were crowned Division champions 14 times and made the playoffs 21 times.

Enroute to their 1979 Super Bowl XIV appearance, the Rams played one of the most interesting games in the NFL against the Seattle Hawks. While the Rams emerged with a 21-0 victory and there is no doubt that their 1979 team was a respectable one, consensus has it that the score line had more to do with the Seahawks inept offense than the Rams’ own brilliance. The game is not remembered for the score line, rather for the fact that the Seahawks had a negative yards total. The Seahawks, being a relatively new team were still trying to find their feet. The previous Monday they had used an interesting strategy which had seen them to an unprecedented win over Atlanta Falcons. They tried to replicate it against the Rams and failed miserably. Try as they might, they just could not get any yards against Los Angeles and in fact lost yards. During the last quarter of the game, the main suspense was whether the Seahawks could raise their yardage into positive figures. They failed, finishing the game with minus-seven yards and it went down in history as the worst game in NFL history. The minus-seven yardage is two yards worse than the next most one-sided game and the Seahawks’ game was so bad it is unexpected that their unfortunate record will ever be broken.

Heading into the Super Bowl year, the Rams were totally dominant in the AFC West winning the division title six years in a row. In 1979, the team was considerably hampered by injuries but still managed to win the NFC West title a seventh year in a row with a 9-7 record. They would then stun the Dallas Cowboys 21-19 in the playoffs and then the Buccaneers 9-0 to seal their Super Bowl ticket. Their opponents in the big game were however no pushovers; the Pittsburg Steelers were on a red hot streak and were seeking a fourth Supper Bow Championship in six years. The Rams went toe to toe with the Steelers during the first half sneaking away with a 19-17 lead at the interval. In the 4th quarter however, their fairy tale run would come to an end as two Steelers touchdown drives engineered by Terry Bradshaw saw the Rams fall 31-19. Had the Rams won, it would have been a befitting tribute to owner Carroll Rosenbloom who had died earlier in the year.

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Why Did The L.A. Rams Relocate?

In 1980, the Rams had abandoned the crumbling Memorial Coliseum and struck a deal to play at the shinier Anaheim Stadium. The larger LA Coliseum was also much harder to sellout and so many of the Rams’ games were blacked out from TV as the NFL rules stipulated. Meanwhile in `982, the Oakland Raiders occupied the Coliseum effectively spitting the Rams’ fan base. This, combined with subsequent decline in results during the late 80s saw attendance fall significantly. After considering a number of cities, Georgia Frontiere, the widow of Rosenbloom, eventually settled on St. Louis in 1995. The team was renamed St Louis Rams. Los Angeles later lost the Raiders in 1994 leaving t without an NFL franchise since. Bot the Rams and Raiders are however said to be keen on a return to Los Angeles for anther assault on the country’s second largest city.

Who Were Some Notable Players on the L.A. Rams?

Eric Dickerson RB 1983-1987
Elroy Hirsch WR 1949-1959
Lamar Lundy 1957-1969
Eric Dickerson RB 1983-1987
Norm Van Borcklin QB 1949-1957
Tom Fears WR 1948-1956
Deacon Jones DE 1961-1971
Tom Mack G 1966-1978
Les Richter LB 1954-1962
Jackie Slater Tackle 1976-1994
Jack Youngblood DE 1971-1984
Ollie Mattson RB 1959-1962
Bob Waterfield QB 1945-1952
Merlin Olsen DT 1962-1976
Woodley Lewis 1950-1955
Lamar Lundy 1957-1969

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