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The Cleveland Rams were a professional football team that played in the NFL from 1937 to 1945. The Rams are still in existence today and are known as the St. Louis Rams.
How did the Cleveland Rams Start up?
The Rams came into existence in 1937 when the city of Cleveland was granted an NFL franchise with businessman Homer Marshman chosen as the new team’s custodian. Homer was also the owner of a team which played in the AFL in 1936 and was also known as the Rams. With the AFL going through management issues, the Rams Marshman jumped ship to the NFL and named his new team Cleveland Rams.
Technically however, the new Rams and the earlier one were not the same franchise because none of the personnel were brought into the new team. The team played their home games at three different stadiums during different seasons; the Cleveland Stadium (1937, 1939-1941, 1944-1945), the Shaw Stadium (1938) and the League Park (1942).
The Cleveland Rams in Competition
Playing in the league’s Western Division, the Rams lost their very first game 28-0 to the Detroit Lions on September 10, 1937, in an ominous sign of things to come. They had to wait 11 days for their first win, a 21-3 result against the Philadelphia Eagles. This was also to be their only win of the season, as they finished with a 1-10 record. During the 1938 season, the Rams improved marginally, posting a 4-7 record. A 5-5-1 record the following season saw them pass the .500 mark for the first time. In 1940, they again fell below .500, posting a 4-6-1 record.
Under new ownership, the club charged furiously out of the stables, winning the first two games of the 1941 season. However, they lost all the remaining fixtures to end the season at 2-9. They improved again in 1942, posting a 5-6 record. In 1943, with the NFL hit hard by the ongoing war, the club suspended operation, returning in 1944. They had a 4-6 record in 1944. With Quarterback Bob Waterfield in inspiring form, the Rams would surprise the league by storming to a 9-1 record that saw them win their first Eastern conference title and then went on to win the NFL championship.
Cleveland Rams’ most Notable Moments
The 1945 NFL championship win will certainly go down as the most memorable moment for the Rams from their time in Cleveland. During the 1945 regular season, the Rams lost just a single game, to the Philadelphia Eagles, who they had coincidentally beaten for their only win in 1937. They won the western conference with a 9-1 record and would meet Eastern Conference champions Washington Redskins in the NFL Championship game. The game, played at the Cleveland Stadium under a big winter storm, finished 15-14 in Cleveland’s favor, as Bob Waterfield pitched in an all-action performance, throwing 37 touchdown passes and 44 yards that saw him named game MVP.
Cleveland Rams’ most Notable Players
Bob Waterfield signed for the Rams in 1945 as a rookie and immediately turned the perpetual struggles into champions. He made a total of 1609 passing yards, 14 passing touchdowns and 17 pass interceptions that season. His combination with Jim Benton was absolutely key to the Rams’ 1945 championship victory.
Wide receiver Jim Benton played for the Rams during three stints between 1938 and 1945 for a total of six seasons. His highlights with the team include two NFL records; 8 consecutive passes for 3 touchdowns in a single game during the 1944 season and catching 10 passes for 303 yards during a game against the Detroit Steelers in 1945.
Quarterback Parker Hall played with the Rams from 1939 to 1942. During his rookie year, he led the league in passing, becoming the first player to make more than a hundred passes in a season, and was fifth in rushing yards, to emerge as the league’s most valuable player that season.
What Happened to the Cleveland Rams?
The Rams were not having the best of times during the seasons before their 1945 championship. This had seen fan turnout wither and the owners suffer financial losses. However, even after the team won the championship, owners Daniel Reeves and Fred Levy were adamant that the future of the team lay away from Cleveland.
They had their eyes squarely on the Los Angeles market which despite its large television market did not have a major leagues sports team. They were also wary of the competition that would ensue following the imminent arrival of the AFL’s Cleveland browns.
Barely a month after the championship, the new owners received approval for a move to LA. Once in LA, the team was renamed the Los Angeles Rams.