Congratulations Los Angeles! You have your NFL team back. But once the novelty of all this wears off and if the team is not a winner, then what? For this answer, we have to look back at the years, yes you guessed it, 1990 to 1994. This was, as you can say, the worst of times for Los Angeles Rams organization. I am not trying to be a Debbie Downer and no two things are ever the same, but if the new Los Angeles Rams are not a winner, then the empathy of the LA fans toward the early nineties LA Rams might rear it's ugly head again. Let's have a little history review.
The Los Angeles Rams were a successful organization. They began their legacy in LA in 1946 after moving from Cleveland Ohio. That same year, they became the first NFL organization to draft an African American with Kenny Washington. Historically the team brought us prominent names in football lore such as "Crazy Legs" Elroy Hirsh, Norm Van Brocklin, and, of course, the "Fearsome Foursome". In modern times, they never won a Superbowl. But they went to the Superbowl in 1980, under the direction of Vince Ferragamo, and lost to the Pittsburg Steelers in the Steelers last Superbowl win of their 70's dynasty. In the Eighties, the team was for the most part a perennial playoff contender but never made it to the big dance, with the great Eric Dickerson and Jackie Slater. At the end of the decade, the team playing in Anaheim seemed destined for a magical ride. The blockbuster trade for Eric Dickerson that brought a herd of young talent seemed promising and under their strong armed quarterback, Jim Everret, the Rams beat the New York Giants in dramatic fashion to make it to the NFC championship game in the beginning of 1990. However, the team found themselves playing with another team coming off the tell end of their dynasty in the Eighties, the San Francisco 49ers. In that game, the Rams actually had a 3-0 lead and were on their way to what seemed to be an apparent easy touchdown to make the score 10-0. Willie "Flipper" Anderson, their speedy receiver, was wide open downfield and Jim Everret found him and launched a ball his way. As Anderson was waiting for the ball to land in his hands, the fingers of a streaking Ronnie Lott, who wasn't in the TV frame a fraction of a second before, came and knocked the ball away. And with that the Rams chance of reaching the Superbowl was completely nullified. The 49ers went on to destroy the Rams 30-3 and would go on to win their fourth championship in the decade. The game culminated with the "Phantom Sack", where Everret was so rattled in the pocket throughout the game that at one point he collapsed to the ground even though no 49er defenders touched him. And that play was a seminal moment that would introduce the Rams struggle for the next five years in Los Angeles.
There record from 1990 to 1994 was 23-57. Stadium attendance dwindled and some of the fans that attended the games started wearing the infamous brown paper bags over their faces. Ownership blamed a lackluster stadium and poor fan support. Further decline happened as the Rams eventually started trading and releasing their prominent players, such as Everret, Henry Ellard, and Kevin Green. They become the butt of jokes on shows like "Married With Children". As a die hard Ram, I remember the situation being particularly bad. The home games were blacked out on local stations, thus I had to attend local food bars which had satellites to watch the games. But even in the home local food bars, I had to beg the patrons to put the Rams game on. The highlights in that period were few and far in between but included these memories:
In 1990, the Rams went on to beat the 10-0 San Francisco 49ers in Candlestick Park
In 1991, they beat the defending Super Bowl Champions, the New York Giants, in the second game of the season
In 1993, their hard running rookie running back, Jerome Bettis, rushed for 1,429 yards
In 1994, they beat the 3-0 Kansas City Chiefs with Joe Montana as the Chiefs quarterback
So with all this, many questions remain. Will the fan base turn their backs on the organization if they lose with empty seats in the stadiums and empathy toward the club? Will ownership provide talent for a winning team so that wont happen? Will the fan base be divided by a second team in LA? Will ownership want to relocate the team again in some 20 years? The answers will be revealed soon. Let's just hope, the future is not dictated by the past.
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