Tom Being Tom

Just me, talking about stuff.

The Rams Are Back in the Playoffs

@RamsNFL

By on 6 Jan 2018

Today, it’s all about the Rams.

I became a Los Angeles Rams fan, as a child, out of spite. As a teen, it was because of Eric Dickerson. When I became a post-teen (a young adult?) there was Jim Everett, Henry Ellard, and Flipper Anderson. As I became a full-fledged football aficionado, a fan of every team and player and coach and organization, in the early 90’s, the Rams themselves began a downward spiral.

Jim Everett took a phantom sack. The rival 49ers cemented a legacy. And the Rams sucked for a decade.

I had no reason to be a fan of the Rams in the 90s. I had every reason to give up on them.

John Robinson went 5-11 and 3-13 in his last two years as the Rams head coach. The legendary Chuck Knox – who had led the Rams to 5 consecutive NFC West titles and 3 conference championship games in the 70s – went 15-33 in his return. The Rams abandoned Los Angeles after the ’94 season and headed to the Midwest. I could have easily abandoned the St. Louis Rams in return.

rams uniforms

I did not. I stuck with my team.

The St. Louis Rams were as bad, if not worse, than the Los Angeles Rams. Head Coach Rich Brooks, recruited out of Oregon, went 13-19 in two years, and was fired. In 1997, St. Louis lured Dick Vermeil out of the broadcast booth to turn around the Rams. But he failed, as well, in his first two years. The Dick Vermeil-led Rams won only 9 games in 32 tries in ’97 and ’98. Even Rich Brooks had been better.

I gave up. Just a little.

During my time as a budding football fan, I became enamored with QB John Elway, who played for the Denver Broncos. He went to two Super Bowls in the late 80’s, against the New York Giants and those rival 49ers, and I rooted for him madly. I owned his jersey, though he was not a Ram. As the 90s went on, and the Rams sputtered, folks would buy me just as much Bronco apparel for Christmas as they did Ram apparel. At the end of the 1997 and 1998 NFL seasons – while Dick Vermeil was failing to revive the Rams – John Elway and the Broncos won back-to-back Super Bowls.

My team was pathetic. They had abandoned LA. They had just completed their 9th consecutive losing season. There was little hope for a rebound.

At the beginning of the ’99 season, a friend asked me if the Rams were now my #2 team.

“Yeah,” I said, “I think the Broncs are #1 now.”

That year, the Rams won the Super Bowl.

“I never said that,” I insisted, at the end of the season.

You know the story by now. Dick Vermeil kept his job in 1999 under the condition he hire a new offensive coordinator. He found Mike Martz, who had been with Washington, and gave him the job. He also gave him RB Marshall Faulk, acquired in a trade, and QB Trent Green, whom Martz had tutored in Washington. Green blew out his knee in preseason. The only other QB on roster was Kurt Warner, a former washout in the NFL who famously stocked shelves for $5.50 an hour after being cut from the Packers. The season, and team, was doomed.

But then Kurt Warner came into Martz’ offense and they scored more points than any team had in NFL history. The Rams became The Greatest Show on Turf, going to two Super Bowls in the next three years, winning one. They made up for 9 years of misery. They won back my heart, in dramatic style.

The GSOT lasted a few, glorious years. But bad drafting, bad leadership, and age took their toll. After 2004, the Rams experienced 12 consecutive losing seasons. They were worse in the mid-aughts and early teens then they were through the entire nineties. From 2007 to 2011 the Rams recorded the worst 5-year stretch in NFL history. They were historically bad.

But, this time, I never wavered. They had the ring now. They had proven, before, that winning and losing was cyclical. I have no 2nd-favorite team today.

@AFishel27

At the end of the 2015 season, the Rams returned to LA.

It was impossible to fathom. You can’t go home again. Everyone always says that. There were so many attempts, over the years, to put another team in Los Angeles. The Vikings were mentioned once. The Jaguars. Seahawks. Bills. An expansion team. For 20 years Los Angeles tried to get a team back, and for 20 years they failed. Then the impossible happened. They came home.

2016 was much like the previous 11 years. Bad offensive football. Bad coaching. Jeff Fisher. He had to go. He had been a head coach for too long, and far too unsuccessfully. The game had passed him by. He was fired. Hallelujah.

And along came Sean McVay. Wunderkind. The youngest head coach in NFL history.

Today, the Rams play in their first postseason game in 13 years. That’s a long time to hold out hope. But I did, I held out hope. Nobody can stay that bad forever, right?

rams return

Will they win?

That’s a good question. As a fan, I say “hell yeah!” As a pragmatist I say “probably not.” The Falcons have nearly the same record as the Rams, have an offense every bit as explosive, and have more playoff experience. They were in the Super Bowl last year, for chrissakes.

But the Rams have youth and vigor. They’re at home. They have shown grit, resiliency and explosiveness all season long. They can beat the Falcons just as assuredly as the Falcons can beat the Rams. I give us a 50/50 chance, in a game that is unarguably worth watching.

I’ll be watching. I’ll be watching with the missus, with the sound up, with a beer in hand. We’ll be screaming at the tops of our lungs. And win or lose I will know they are back. Young coach, young team, new hope and, hopefully, a decade of relevance ahead.

My patience has finally paid off.

The Rams are back in the playoffs.

@RamsNFL



30 comments on “The Rams Are Back in the Playoffs

  1. I too am looking forward to some quality couch time watching this matchup! Your excitement for your team is infections. It makes me excited to talk “what-ifs” and arm-chair strategy all off-season. Kick off for the 2018 season is going to be glorious! Who knows…you may be flaunting a ring. I’ll be eagerly, and cautiously anticipating the return of the chosen one to lead the silver and black to glory! Isn’t football great!? #MAGA #🇺🇸 #🏈 #🐐 #…

    1. 10 years, $100 million … are you kidding me!?

      That’s awesome, though. The Raiders will show that ’17 was the fluke, and they’ll be right back in the hunt next year. Hey, maybe after the Rams/Steelers Super Bowl this year, we can see a Rams/Raiders one next year! 😏

      Anything’s possible, when the NFL is King! 🏈🏈🏈

  2. Your loyalty and fervor are impressive, Tom. I may be risking excommunication with this little story, but….I grew up in LA, but was raised by a mom who was a die hard Steelers fan; the year the Rams and the Steelers played in the Super Bowl, my mom painted a huge mural that covered out garage door – it read, “Feel the Steel Rams”.

    1. Actually, I think that’s AWESOME! I don’t expect anyone but me to the love the Rams; fanhood is a peculiar thing! One of my best buds is a Steelers fan, and we’re rooting for a rematch of that ’79 game. Wouldn’t that be something?!

      And, hey, the Rams won 3 1/2 quarters of that Super Bow, as I recall! 😂

      1. You recall correctly, it was that damn last 1/2 quarter that did you in, go Rams!!!

        1. Hahaha! I was just talking about you, Rodger … thanks for chiming in. 😏 And good luck to your Steelers next week; see you in the Super Bowl!

  3. Ok, so I finally got a glimpse into sports excitement from watching American Ninja Warrior. They Slip and I go “AHHHHHH!” “Ooooohh!’ and they get close to the buzzer and I go ” GO GO GO GO!” So now, I have excitement for your excitement. May the Rams do whatever it is they do that make you scream happily at your television.

    1. See, it’s infectious! Thank you, DG, for your support. I will be, indeed, screaming one way or another.

      Fun fact: for the sake of clarity, and the mental image you are all processing of me, couch-potatoing football … my butt never touches the couch. I pace back and forth, approaching the TV during critical times and backing away, mumbling play calls, “dammits,” and “attaboys,” as I reach for my next swig of beer. I am, for lack of a better term, an “active” football spectator. 😉

  4. Dear Tom, I understand your passion, I just don’t share it. God knows I’ve tried. I just don’t understand football, nor super bowl for that matter.
    So, I’ll politely pass this one.
    However, there’s sth else I wanted to share with you. I thought of you, oddly, when watching Winnie the Pooh with my boys this evening. Remember our conversation the other day – I’m an antonym, you’re not a euphemism. So, who, that is what the heck are you? I racked my brain for days and still nothing. And then, just as I was about to give up, the cartoon helped me find the answer. You’re a paragraph, a group of sentences forming a complete thought.

    1. Dear Bojana, I understand. My football posts tend to be the least-viewed on my blog; it’s not for everyone. I just couldn’t help but mark the occasion… it’s been 13 years since my team made the playoffs!

      On the other note… wow. I have to say, I like it. It makes me sound … complex? Expansive? I can’t put my finger on the word I’m looking for. Broad? But it also makes me seem cohesive, as if I may be copious but at the same time steady and consistent.

      Or maybe all you meant is that I’m verbose. 😉

      Either way, I consider it a great compliment. Thank you, and thank Winnie and the boys!

        1. That’s another long post. 😉

          But, in a nutshell, I’m very proud of this team for getting back to the playoffs. I would have loved to have won the game, obviously, because winning that first playoff game is essential to get the monkey off the back of a young coach, but I also didn’t think this team was ready to take it all. But, we’re young, we’ll be back.

          Now I start putting together my mock drafts and planning the offseason moves I think the Rams need to make to be that kind of team next year. 😏

  5. Man… this reminds me of “the drive” and the “3 amigos” and…

    I know this was a Rams post, but you said Broncos. And Elway…

    Out of the country for the past few months so haven’t been able to see as much NFL as I should. But now I’ve got the itch.

    I should be writing, but its Sunday here. Words can wait…

    1. Vance Johnson. Mark Jackson. Ricky Nattiel. Man, I loved that team. John Elway, in my book, was the greatest QB to play before the modern era (of inflated QB stats). Maybe only Dan Marino challenges that.

      Hope you got to enjoy some football yesterday, over there. Falcons look hot!

  6. sorry about the Rams Tom. I hate the Falcons. But then I live in New England so you probably hate me now. I mention that because I know what it’s like to love your team. And we were bad for a loooooong time.

    1. Thank you, otl! I’m not a hater; I think Tom Brady is the best QB to ever play the game. In fact, I was a fan of his at Michigan. I think that fella understands the game better than any QB I’ve watched. And, heck, I bought me a Pats hat way back when they drafted Bledsoe, too.

      Falcons look like they could give anyone a run for their money, and I’m guessing they’ll knock off the Eagles next week. Gonna be fun to watch.

      Thanks for joining the convo!

      1. it’s fun being a Pats fan, they piss excellence. But we’re spoiled rotten here. I like your post because I know there are fans that don’t have it as good as we. That day is coming soon I fear

        1. Haha! I go back and forth on Cam. I enjoy what he brings to the game, even the swagger, at times. But, at times, he gets on my nerves. I can totally relate to not being able to tolerate him, at all. Brees, on the other hand, pure class, and happy to see him advance!

  7. I’m more of a rugby girl, but I certainly understand your passion for football. Canadian football is a little different, but people here get really into it too!

    1. I have never sat and watched a CFL game, and I feel ashamed about that! I’ll have to give that a try. Heck, I should give rugby a try, too. Have a great Sunday, Suzanne!

  8. Thanks for sharing your passion for your team with us!

    I must confess I had season tickets to the Seahawks in 2005-2007 as they kept making it to the Super Bowl and FAILING to win! Talk about heartbreak and disappointment! When I finally left Seattle, they finally won!

    Now that I live in Germany, I have found a new passion for the “other football” (gasp)! 😄
    But now I can root for a worthy team vicariously through you!

    1. Nice! I was surprised how many soccer fans (futbol!) there are here in Redding. Some team called, I think, Manchester United(?) has a following down at the local pub I frequent and the place gets pretty packed for big games. I’ve rarely gotten into it, but there’s a couple of times I screamed for some bunch I didn’t know, when they scored at the appropriate moment. 😏

      I did not know that about you and Seattle, the team or the town. Good share! The ‘hawks are, as you can imagine, a mortal enemy of mine (NFC WEST!) but good-naturedly so. I have several Seahawks fan friends.

      Welcome to the bandwagon, and thank you for your support, MP!

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