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Yes, The Rams Lost The Super Bowl, But The Game Still Mattered For Los Angeles

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  • The Rams made their second appearance representing L.A. in the Super Bowl tonight, but quarterback Jared Goff, Coach Sean McVay and the rest of the team couldn't deliver a win against the New England Patriots -- not even with halftime help from Maroon 5 and a shirtless Adam Levine.

  • The final score was 13-3.

  • To be fair, L.A. does have a Super Bowl win to brag about, circa 1984, when the Raiders won.

  • But regardless of tonight's disappointment, Super Bowl LIII was a big deal: for many longtime L.A. sports fans, the Rams are the city's O.G. team.

Their L.A. story started in 1946, when they moved from Cleveland, way before the Brooklyn Dodgers or Minneapolis Lakers had come west.

The move made the NFL the first coast-to-coast professional sports league and the Rams agreed to play in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

As a condition for being allowed to play there, they had to sign an African-American player. They didn't have to look far, bringing in Lincoln Heights native and UCLA star Kenny Washington, who some considered a better player than one of his Bruins teammates, an impressive four-sport athlete named Jackie Robinson.

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Five members of the Los Angeles Rams who also played at the University of California at Los Angeles, are seen at the Rams' training camp at Compton, circa 1946. Front row, left to right: Jack Finlay, guard; Nate de Francisco, guard; Woody Strode, end. Back row, left to right: Kenny Washington and Bob Waterfield, backs. (AP photo)

A couple of years later, Rams halfback Fred Gerhke painted the now iconic horns on the team's helmets, making them the first in the NFL to have emblems on their helmets.

The Rams were successful right away in LA.

They were a fun, high-scoring team -- much like today's Rams. They even won an NFL Championship in 1951 and because they were so exciting became the first team to have all of their games broadcast on television:

Hollywood loved the Rams and the Rams loved Hollywood right back, with several players making TV appearances in the '50s and '60s.

For example, Rosey Grier was a member of the Rams defensive line of that era, nicknamed The Fearsome Foursome. He was 6 feet, 5 inches and 285 pounds. But as many learned on the show Hollywood Palace, hosted by Milton Berle, Grier also had a lovely singing voice.

It proved a great way for the team to get L.A. to fall in love with them.

But then in 1967, the Super Bowl era began.

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For most of the '70s, the Rams would come close oh-so-close to getting there, but kept coming up short. They earned a reputation for choking in the big games, thanks to coming one win away from getting to the Super Bowl in the 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1978 seasons.

Then came the 1979 season.

Before it even started their owner, Caroll Rosenbloom, drowned while swimming off the coast of Florida. His wife Georgia inherited the team and fired Rosenbloom's son Steve, the team's vice president.

And midway through the season the Rams were not a very good team. But they somehow managed to win their division and against all the odds made to to the Super Bowl -- earning the dubious distinction of the worst record of any Super Bowl team ever at that point (9-7).

That became the Rams prevailing storyline for the big game, where they were up against the reigning- champion Steelers, a team going for its fourth Super Bowl win in the span of only six seasons.

The Rams were underdogs, but that year's game was played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, the closest any team playing in the Super Bowl had to a home-field advantage.

The Rams had the lead at the start of the 4th quarter. But the advantage couldn't get them over the top as the Steelers came roaring back, scoring two touchdowns to win the game and cementing their place in history as the best football team of the '70s.

Then came a move that foreshadowed what was to come. In 1980, the Rams left the Coliseum for Anaheim.

While they didn't move that far away, I remember how the kids and grownups alike in my Koreatown neighborhood felt a sting when they left.

In 1994, the Rams bolted for St. Louis, ending an era. On top of that, the Raiders returned to Oakland for the 1995 season and L.A. became an NFL deadzone.

In 2000, pouring salt on the wound, the St. Louis Rams went on to win a Super Bowl, which was was a mixed bag of emotions for many Angelenos.

But after 21 years, the Rams, like the prodigal son, returned. And in just two seasons, the reborn team is in the Super Bowl.

Los Angeles Rams run onto the field ahead of the NFC Divisional Round playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Jan. 12, 2019. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Like their predecessors from the 1979 season, they're facing a dynasty, this one in the form of the New England Patriots, going for a record-tying 6th title, which they'd share with the Steelers. How's that for full circle?


Please enjoy this Rams music video from the '80s, in all its corny, sexually suggestive glory:

Updated February 3, 2019 at 10:34 AM PST
Feb. 3, 12:05 p.m.: This article was updated to correct the spellings of Willie Ellison and Woody Strode.

Feb. 3, 7:04 p.m.: This article was updated to reflect the final score.

This article was originally published at Feb. 1.
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