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A short history of the LA Rams

Rams fan gets ready ahead of the big game. Photo credit: Jenny Hamel

This Sunday, the Los Angeles Rams will face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII. Tom Brady and the Patriots need no introduction, but it’s the first time many people will be paying attention to the Rams. In fact, some Angelenos may just be getting to know the team since their return to the city in 2016.

Here are some highlights from their history to help you pregame.

How did the team get their name?

Before they were Los Angeles, before they were St. Louis, they were the Cleveland Rams. They joined the NFL in 1937. At the time, the GM had said his favorite football team was a college team- the Fordham University Rams. The owner, Homer Marshman, liked the sound of the name. Thus, the Cleveland Rams.

When did they get to LA?

In 1946 a year after WWII ended, the Rams moved to Los Angeles. At the time, they were one of the first professional sports teams in all of California. Not to mention the only one in LA. Ted Sobel, a host at Sports USA Radio, says that they were hugely popular, because they were the only game in town.

“It was before the Lakers, before the Dodgers,” says Sobel. “It was a Rams town and they were very, very popular, although not that successful. They won a championship in 51 and we’re still waiting for another one.”

The LA Rams still hold the record for attendance of a regular season game. In 1957, the Rams played the San Francisco 49er's at the LA Coliseum, and over a 102,000 people were in the crowd.

The LA Rams are best known for the reign of Fearsome Foursome. Deacon Jones, Merlin Olsen, Rosey Grier and Lamar Lundy made up the most dominant defensive line of that era, and some argue of all time. But despite, their success they never made it to a Superbowl.

Why did they move to Anaheim in 1980?

In the 1970s, the team owner was Carroll Rosenbloom and he was married to Georgia Frontiere, a former entertainer and socialite. In 1979 he died in a swimming pool accident and Frontiere got 70 percent ownership stake in the Rams. She moved the Rams to Anaheim and that angered a lot of fans. However, in fairness, Carroll Rosenbloom had already made that deal to move the Rams before he died. Some of the reasons were that the LA Coliseum was too big to sell out crowds and often experienced blackouts. But, according to Sobel, Georgia Frontiere made other decisions that didn’t go over well.

They had gotten rid of most of their key players and then it was the last straw when they unloaded Eric Dickerson because he was the star of stars the best running back in the league at the time. They just traded him away and it was almost like wow we don't even we don't even really care about the fans anymore and that's the way the Rams faithful felt at the time. And I don’t blame them,” says Sobel.  

The team lost popularity, and its attendance numbers were sagging. Finally in the mid-’90s, Frontiere was offered almost $30 million cash from St. Louis to relocate the team.

Frontiere  was born and raised in St. Louis, so that was a big lure. The St. Louis Rams had what was called the “Greatest Show on Turf,” which included running back Marshall Faulk, offensive player of the year from 1999 to 2001 and quarterback Kurt Warner, two time NFL MVP. But in the 2002 Super Bowl, the New England Patriots upset St. Louis' "Greatest Show on Turf."

What about that song?

One of the memorable things that did come out of the Anaheim era was an amazing song the team recorded in 1986 Ram It. Enjoy.

Credits

Producer:
Jenny Hamel