It is a long road with many stops before we get to the modern incarnation of the Los Angeles Rams and we have to begin by going to Lake Erie and the North Shore where the organization first took shape in Cleveland.
Formed in 1936, the Cleveland Rams were the fourth attempt to put together a professional football team in the city and the team was mediocre year after year bouncing from one stadium to another. Due to a shortage of players, the Rams suspended play in the 1943 season and returned the following year. With rookie Quarterback, Bob Waterfield, the Rams won the NFL Championship in 1945, which would be their last in Cleveland. Owner, Dan Reeves sought a larger venue, namely Los Angeles, which had the 100,000 seat plus Memorial Coliseum and they would become the first major team to switch coasts.
Football was a hit in Los Angeles and in the 1950’s they were amongst the best in the National Football League. With a team of stars like Waterfield, Norm Van Brocklin, Tom Fears and Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch the Rams went to the NFL Championship three times in the decade and would win their second NFL Title in 1951. The team went into the 60’s still exceeding popular, but now boasted defensive stars, specifically the “Fearsome Foursome”, who were such a draw that the team became the first in the NFL to draw more than a million fans.
The Rams continued to do well in the 1970’s and they went to their first Super Bowl for the 1979 season but they would fall to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The 80’s again saw some success but they would change locations and play their home games in Anaheim and the Oakland Raiders relocated south moving to the Coliseum. This split the L.A. fanbase and the once popular Rams lost the favor of Southern California. Citing a need for a new stadium, Rams ownership (Georgia Frontiere) moved the team to St. Louis prior to the 1995 season and it was certainly not without controversy as many of the other NFL owners opposed it initially but it did bring football back to St. Louis who used to have the Arizona Cardinals.
The St. Louis Rams in the late 90’s would become one of the most exciting teams in Pro Football with “The Greatest Show on Turf”, a loaded offensive squad featuring Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt and Orlando Pace and they won Super Bowl XXXIV, the first in franchise history. They went to Super Bowl XXXVI but lost to the New England Patriots. After that, the Rams regressed and due to a clause in their lease they were able to leave if their facility was not considered top tier. Negotiations broke down between the Rams and the city of St. Louis and new owner Stan Kroenke moved the team back to Los Angeles where they are again an elite team and appeared (and lost) Super Bowl LIII.
We are hoping the team stays in L.A. and continues to build on what at times has been a decorated franchise.
Note: Football lists are based on an amalgamation of tenure, traditional statistics, advanced statistics, playoff statistics and post-season accolades.
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