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The Los Angeles Rams were an American football team that played in the NFL from 1946 to 1994. The LA Rams were the predecessors to the St. Louis Rams, still in operation today. The Rams were based at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and later the Anaheim Stadium. They became the first NFL team to sign a black player when they signed Kenny Washington in 1949.
How did the Rams Start up?
The Los Angeles Rams came to be when Cleveland Rams owner Dan Reeves moved the team from Cleveland to LA in 1946. The Rams were offered the chance to lease the Los Angeles Coliseum under the precondition that they would sign at least one black player which art the time was disallowed by the NFL. The Rams signed Kenny Washington in March 1946, beginning a trend which eventually ended segregation in the NFL. The Rams became the first NFL team to be based wholly in Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Rams in Competition
Reeves’ move to Los Angeles was vindicated when the Rams played their first pre-season game Against the Washington Redskins at the Coliseum in front of 95,000 fans. During their first season, they finished second with a 6-4-1 record. Between 1949 and 1955 they made it to the NFL Championship Game, the predecessor to the Super Bowl four times, winning once in 1951. This period of relative success was followed by a downturn in form which saw them lose seven seasons in a row between 1956 and 1962. A revival of sorts followed which culminated in a conference championship appearance in 1967, which they lost. That season, the Rams surpassed one million spectators, the first NFL team to do so. Under Coach George Allen, the Rams enjoyed five straight winning seasons between 1966 and 1969. Between 1973 and 1978, they won six straight NFC West division championships but failed to win the league championship a single time. In the 1979 season, they reached their first Super Bowl but were beaten 31-19 by the Pittsburg Steelers.
In1981, they missed the playoffs for the first time in nine years as their players began to age. The rest of the 80s were up and down making 4 playoff appearances without making it that deep. In 1989 they did make it to the NFC Championship Game but failed to win. Beginning 1990, it was all downhill for the Rams as they recorded 5-11 and 3-13 in 1990 and 1991 respectively. They then finished last in each of their final three years in LA despite bringing in Coach Chuck Knox from the Seattle Seahawks.
The Rams’ Most Notable moments
The 1949 signing of Kenny Washington was a key moment in the strife for civil justice as it represented the first time an NFL team had signed a black player. He lasted only three years in the NFL but his impact on the league in terms of equality was enormous. More teams signed black players to their rosters and eventually, the NFL abolished the rule that barred black players from the league.
In 1980, the Rams had their most notable achievement by reaching Super Bowl XIV despite winning just 9 in the regular season. They prevailed over the Dallas Cowboys and Tamper Bay Buccaneers, to set up a Super Bowl meeting with then defending champions Pittsburg Steelers. Going into the third quarter, the Rams led 13-10 but after the teams exchanged leads in the third quarter, the Rams allowed their opponents to score fourteen unanswered points. There would be no recovery as they went on to lose 31-19 to seal the heartbreak.
The LA Rams’ most Notable Players
Merlin Olsen spent his entire 15-year professional career (1962-1976) with the Rams, earning a record 14 straight Pro Bowl selections in that time. The defensive tackler was joined in defense by Deacon Jones, Rosey Grier, and Lamar Lundy to form what was known as the “Fearsome Foursome” which was instrumental in the Rams’ successive division titles from 1973 to 1976.
Running back Eric Dickerson played for the Rams from 1983 to 1987, getting selected for the Pro Bowl in four of those five seasons. In 1984 he set the NFL record for single season rushing with 2,105 yards. In his rookie year, he had set the rookie record for most rushing attempts (390) and most rushing yard (1,808).
Quarterback Roman Gabriel stayed with the Rams between 1962 and 1972. Between 1967 and 1971, he led the team to a first or second place finish in the division in each of those years. In 1969 he threw for 2,549 yards and 24 touchdowns, leading the Rams to the playoffs and earning himself the NFL MVP.
What Happened to the Los Angeles Rams?
In their first few years in LA, the Rams were a hugely popular team and even became the first team to have all their matches broadcast live on TV. However their performances started to wane and so did their fan base. During the 1980s, other major league sports franchises in LA including the Los Angeles Lakers and the Dodgers were posting stellar results and expectations for the Rams were high. In 1982 the Los Angeles Raiders landed from Oakland, effectively splitting the Rams fan base in half. The Rams started negotiations to get a new ballpark but Orange County was unable to finance such a project owing to financial trouble. The team eventually moved to St. Louis and became the St. Louis Rams. That same year, the raiders relocated back to Oakland, leaving Los Angeles without an NFL team to date.