On January 12, 1946, the Cleveland Rams announced they were moving to Los Angeles. A certain sense of sweet nostalgia is in the air as the Rams head west for California once again 70 years later to the day. Rams owner Stan Kroenke got the green light to U-turn back to Los Angeles from St. Louis, where it enjoyed its only Super Bowl championship in 1999. Even though 22 years has past since Los Angeles was last home to the Rams, there will be a homecoming, as many football fans in Southern California have remained loyal to the franchise.
The Rams were my childhood. Jim Everett, Flipper Anderson, Henry Ellard, Cleveland Gary, Jackie Slater, Tony Zendajas. Those guys were my youth. I didn’t grow up in Southern California, and the only time I’ve ever even been there was a family trip to Disneyland when I was 8 years-old. But my football birth in 1989 was as a Los Angeles Rams fan. All of the kids in my neighborhood were 49ers fans, so it seemed rational enough to be a fan of their bitter division rival. And I was smitten with the cute gold colored horns on their helmets.
Those first magical memories were of Jim Everett dropping bombs to Flipper Anderson. Beating the 49ers in Candlestick in Week 4 in 1989, Flipper Anderson’s record breaking 336 yard performance in the Superdome, and then two dramatic playoff wins. Everett to Flipper in the 1989 divisional playoffs, where Flipper kept running up the tunnel to the locker room after catching the game winning touchdown in overtime in the Meadowlands against the Giants is still epic in my mind. Those were the impressionable moments.
As exhilarating as those moments were, the crushing low I felt after the Rams were hammered into the ropes at Candlestick 30-3 in the 1989 NFC Championship was as low as I’ve ever been as a sports fan. Not only had I watched my beloved team suffer one of the most brutal beatings in playoff history, I had to endure the ridicule from all of my 49er-loving friends. Yes, I cried, for the first and only time as a sports fan.
And then came the deep dark abyss of the 1990s. The hangover from getting burnt at the Candlestick the year before sent the Rams into a decade-long funk that was the impetus for their relocation to St. Louis. Never before or since have I seen one loss completely defeat a team like the one the Rams suffered in San Francisco. The Rams would go on to lose 17 straight to their 49er daddies from 1990-98. Jim Everett, my favorite player, was never the same caliber player after taking the “phantom sack” in the NFC Championship. His confidence shaken to the core, the next three years would be a nightmare for what was once one of the league’s most promising players. “The Future Belongs to Jim Everett,” read the cover of GQ magazine for its NFL 1990 NFL issue. A post-apocalyptic one sure did.
The downward spiral of Everett’s career continued, as did the Rams. Sadly, Everett will be remembered more for his meltdown on the Jim Rome Show in 1993 than anything he ever did on the field. Don’t call him “Chris,” ok?
When the Rams moved to St. Louis in 1994, and Jim Everett’s career came undone, I lost interest. Even though I was happy to see the Rams catch lightning in a bottle with Kurt Warner and win it all in 1999, it wasn’t the same. That should have happened in Los Angeles. And here we are, 26 years later, welcome back to my childhood. This time with a sparkly new stadium set to open up in Inglewood in 2019. Waxing nostalgic for Watermelon Heads, I’m happy this day has come. Sorry St. Louis, but you were always a baseball town, and the Rams were merely on hiatus until the NFL got its L.A. act back together. Now if Kroenke would just bring back the old team colors, I may just find my first football love again.