Your Guide To The Los Angeles Rams
To the fans in Los Angeles who have waited over 20 years for an NFL team to cheer for: congratulations! And our condolences to the fans in St. Louis. Losing a team really sucks.On Wednesday evening, the NFL approved the relocation of the St. Louis Rams to Los Angeles, bringing back Los Angeles' first professional sports team. "Today, with the NFL returning home, Los Angeles cements itself as the epicenter of the sports world," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. "We cannot wait to welcome the Rams, and perhaps others soon, as they join a storied lineup of professional franchises, collegiate powerhouses and sports media companies."
The Rams left for St. Louis after the 1994 season, so us Angelenos have a lot of catching up to do with our long lost friends before they kick off the 2016 season in Los Angeles. Here's a guide to the reborn Los Angeles Rams.
Who Are The Rams?
The Rams are one of the NFL's 32 teams and are a part of the NFC West division, pitting them against the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals. Wednesday's move is actually the second time they moved to Los Angeles, as they were founded in 1936 as the Cleveland Rams, won an NFL Championship in 1945 and moved to Los Angeles in 1946. They played in the Coliseum until 1980 when they moved all their home games to Anaheim Stadium (now Angel Stadium). Attendance and team revenues began to sharply decline in the early 90s and then-owner Georgia Frontiere moved the team to St. Louis after the 1994 season (the Raiders also returned to Oakland after the same season).
While the Rams aren't generally thought of as one of the marquee franchises of the NFL, they do have a lot of history. In 1946, when they moved to L.A., the Rams signed UCLA star running back Kenny Washington, making him the first black NFL player since 1933. From 1949 to 1955, under Hall of Fame quarterbacks Bob Waterfield and Norm Van Brocklin, they played in the NFL Championship four times, winning once in 1951. Their pass-heavy (for the era), big play offense foresaw the style of play that the league has today. In 1952, the awesomely-nicknamed Dick "Night Train" Lane set an NFL record that still stands today, with 14 interceptions during his rookie season. In the 1960s, the team would become known for their defense, led by a line known as the "Fearsome Foursome" that included Rosey Grier, Lamar Lundy and Hall of Famers Merlin Olsen and Deacon Jones.
The Rams' famed "Fearsome Foursome" defensive line. L-R: Lamar Lundy, Rosey Grier, Merlin Olsen, and David "Deacon" Jones. (Photo from the Herald-Examiner Collection, via the Los Angels Public Library Photo Archive)
The 1970s can be thought of as the heyday of the Los Angeles Rams in the post-Super Bowl era (1966 to now), as they won the NFC West seven years straight from 1973 to 1979. That success, though, came with heartbreak. They lost in four NFC Championships during that run and capped it all off with a loss in Super Bowl XIV to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1980. Their run to the Super Bowl became mythologized when defensive end Jack Youngblood played through a broken leg during the playoffs.
Eric Dickerson runs through the 1985 Bears defense (Photo by Paul Chinn, from the Herald-Examiner Collection via the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection)
In 1980, the Rams moved to Anaheim Stadium because the Coliseum's capacity made it too difficult to sell out their home games and get around the NFL's dumb blackout rules. The Rams would continue to be contenders through the 80s, but are mostly remembered for star running back Eric Dickerson, who set the single-season rushing record in 1984 with 2,105 yards. That, and their very sexy music video from 1986.After moving to St. Louis, the Rams would finally reach the top of the mountain with their high-powered offense. Led by quarterback Kurt Warner, running back Marshall Faulk, and wide receivers Isaac Bruce and Tory Holt, "The Greatest Show On Turf" dominated the league from 1999 to 2001, winning Super Bowl XXXIV and losing to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI. Unfortunately for the Rams, they haven't had a winning season since 2003.
So The Rams Aren't Any Good?
Sadly, no. They finished 7-9 this past season, and haven't had a good quarterback since Kurt Warner left after 2003. That's not to say they are lacking in talent. Running back Todd Gurley is one of the best in the league at his position, and their defense has two stars in defensive tackle Aaron Donald and defensive end Robert Quinn. Hopefully the move to Los Angeles means some changes for the better are coming. Fun fact: running back Tre Mason is the son of rapper Maseo from De La Soul.
Proposed stadium in Inglewood (Screengrab via HKS/YouTube)
Where Will They Play?
Owner Stan Kroenke is building a privately-funded, $2.66-billion dollar stadium in Inglewood as part of a larger development on the site of the old Hollywood Park racetrack. Construction on the site already began last month, but it won't be done until 2019. Until then, the Rams will likely play at the Coliseum. Just like old times!
What About The Chargers And The Raiders?
With Wednesday's decision, the proposed stadium in Carson that would have been shared by the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders is now dead. The Chargers now have the option to decide whether they want to share the Inglewood stadium with the Rams or stay in San Diego. (Chargers owner Dean Spanos does not appear to be happy about this.) If they decide to stay, the option is extended to the Raiders, who also get a year to make the same decision. It seems likely that both teams will use this opportunity to work out better deals with their current cities. And if either team stays, they'll get $100 million from the NFL to go towards a new stadium.
Oh And One More Thing...
Please switch back to the classic blue and yellow. The blue and gold is ghastly.
Quarterback Kurt Warner in 2003. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)