This year’s Super Bowl was one of the most exciting we’ve seen in recent years. The Los Angeles Rams powered to victory, beating the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20. But did you know this is just the latest in the Rams’ long history of championship victories?
The Los Angeles Rams started from humble beginnings, but through the last eighty-six years, they have built a golden team. Read on to learn more about the history of the Los Angeles Rams and discover the incredible story that led them to Super Bowl greatness.
Founding The Team
Believe it or not, the Los Angeles Rams actually got their start more than 2,000 miles away from Los Angeles. The team first got started in Cleveland, Ohio, as part of the American Football League. The team played their first game in 1936 and was one of just eight teams to play in the inaugural season of that league.
Bud Cooper, Harry “The Horse” Mattos, Stan Pincura, and Mike Sebastian were some of the legendary players who led that first Rams season. Unfortunately, this iteration of the American Football League wasn’t destined for greatness, and the league shut down the next year. The Rams moved instead to the National Football League, which had been founded sixteen years before.
Surviving The War
During their first season with the NFL, the Rams lost all but one game, in which they beat the Philadelphia Eagles 21-3. The next five years weren’t much better, and the team failed to post a winning season in that time. In fact, they won just twenty of the fifty-five games they played during that time.
In 1943, World War II was raging, and most of the healthy young men were called into service. As you might imagine, this made it hard for the Rams – or any other team – to find enough players to put together a team. The team took the year off, and they spent the following season in 1944 rebuilding their program, winning just four games.
Rising From The Ashes
The end of World War II ushered in a new era for both our nation and the Rams. Still playing in Cleveland, the team hired Adam Walsh as their head coach and his brother Chile as their general manager, and they recruited a rookie from UCLA named Bob Waterfield to be their quarterback. Together, this trio would lead the team to success like they had never seen before.
The Rams shut out their first two opponents in 1945, beating the Chicago Cardinals 21-0 and the Chicago Bears 17-0. In fact, that season, they only lost one game against the Philadelphia Eagles. This earned them a spot in the NFL Championship game, which they won 15-14 against the Washington Redskins.
The Rams were riding high on their newfound victory in 1946, but there was a new contender for the throne. That year, Mickey McBride and Paul Brown founded the Cleveland Browns. Dan and Fred Reeves, the team owners, didn’t want to compete with the newly-formed Browns and so decided it was time to move the team out to sunny L.A.
The Rams were an immediate success in L.A. with more than 95,000 people attending their first pre-season game. During that first season in Los Angeles, the Rams signed their first two black players, Kenny Washington and Woody Strode. The team posted winning seasons through the rest of the 1940s, even making it to the NFL Championship game again in 1949.
The Golden Fifties
In 1948, a halfback on the Rams team named Fred Gehrke decided his helmet needed some embellishment and painted golden ram’s horns on the side of it. This was the first helmet emblem in pro football, and today, more than seventy years later, the Rams’ helmets still carry that insignia. This golden emblem would also serve as a portent of the success to come.
The fifties represented the first golden age in the newly-minted Los Angeles Rams history. During these years, fans enjoyed victories under the inspiring leadership of greats like Norm Van Brocklin, Elroy Hirsch, and Tom Fears. They made it to three more championship games that decade, winning one in 1951, when they beat their old hometown team, the Cleveland Browns.
Growing Through The Sixties
During the late 1960s, the Rams grew a strong program – quite literally. The star Rams players during those years were Merlin Olsen, Rosie Grier, Deacon Jones, and Lamar Lundy, a defensive line known as the Fearsome Four. The Rams also signed the first “big” quarterback in NFL history: Roman Gabriel, who stood at 6’5”.
The Fearsome Four pulled the Rams out of a slump from 1959 to 1966, during which the team posted just one winning season. In 1967, however, with Roman Gabriel and the Fearsome Four on the field, the team made it to the Western Conference Championship game and beat the Cleveland Browns in the NFL Playoff Bowl. They posted a fantastic season in 1968 and again won the Playoff Bowl in 1969.
Dominating The Seventies And Eighties
During the 1970s, the Rams made it to the NFC Championship game five times and even played in Super Bowl XIV. Jack Youngblood thrilled fans with his defensive maneuvers, and in the 1980s, the team would add spectacular offensive players Vince Ferragamo and Eric Dickerson. The team would go on to qualify for playoffs an astounding seven times during the 1980s.
Learn More About The History Of The Los Angeles Rams
The LA Rams’ recent Super Bowl victory is just the latest in a long series of accolades for the team. From their rough beginnings in Cleveland to their meteoric rise and move to Los Angeles, the Rams have been pioneers in NFL history. The 50s ushered in a golden age for the team, and all the way through the 70s and 80s, we saw them building a team that could go the distance.
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