After a decades-long absence, the Rams are heading back to the city they called home for nearly 50 years: Los Angeles. Here are five facts to know about the Rams’ time in the City of Angels.
1) Integrating the game
When the Rams became the first NFL franchise in Los Angeles, one of the conditions in their lease to play in the Los Angeles Coliseum was to integrate the team with at least one African-American player. The club found the perfect option from their new city, and signed running back Kenny Washington who had starred at UCLA on March 21, 1946.
2) Becoming champions
It didn’t take long for L.A. to win an NFL Championship once the club had settled in California. Before the Super Bowl came into existence in the late 1960s, the Rams played in three consecutive NFL Championship games for the 1949, 1950, and 1951 seasons. Though Los Angeles came away empty handed against the Philadelphia Eagles in ’49 and the Cleveland Browns in ’50, the club would flip the script in ’51.
The Rams beat the Browns in a championship-game rematch, with Norm Van Brocklin connecting with Tom Fears on a 73-yard pass in the fourth quarter to go up by the game-winning score of 24-17.
3) The “Fearsome Foursome”
While the name “The Fearsome Foursome” has been used to describe a few defensive lines, it became the most popular from the men in horns. Between Rosey Grier, Lamar Lundy, David “Deacon” Jones, and Merlin Olsen, the Rams became a dominant defensive front. While the sack was not an official stat until 1982, Jones had one of the greatest runs in NFL history, averaging just over 20 sacks a season from 1964-1968.
A few players on the line changed, but the results remained the same in the 70s. Olsen and then Jack Youngblood helped lead a defensive line that won seven consecutive division titles from 1973 to 1979.
Jones (159.5), Youngblood (151.5), and Olsen (94) remain atop the all-time franchise list in sacks.
4) Run to Super Bowl XIV
In 1979, the Rams won their seventh consecutive NFC West title en route to their first Super Bowl appearance.
Los Angeles was 5-6 when quarterback Vince Ferragamo made his first start of the season for a Monday Night Football matchup against the Atlanta Falcons on Nov. 19. The Rams won that contest 20-14 and would win their next three games as well, clinching the division with a 34-13 victory over Atlanta on Dec. 9.
In the playoffs, Ferragamo threw three touchdown passes as Los Angeles beat the Cowboys in Dallas in the divisional round, 21-19. Billy Waddy caught a 50-yard scoring strike in the fourth quarter, putting the Rams up by the final score.
Los Angeles then shut out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship game, 9-0. Frank Corral connected on three field goals and the Rams’ defense held the Bucs to just seven first downs in a suffocating defensive performance.
Though the Rams would fall to the Steelers in Super Bowl XIV, the 1979 season stands as one of the best in franchise history.
5) Eric Dickerson
As one of the best running backs in league history, Dickerson deserves a spot all his own. Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999, Dickerson’s first four years as a Ram were transcendent. As Los Angeles’ No. 2 overall pick in 1983, he burst onto the scene as a rookie, rushing for a league-leading 1,808 yards and amassing a total of 2,212 yards from scrimmage. Dickerson then set the NFL’s single-season rushing record with 2,105 yards in 1984, averaging 131.6 yards rushing per game. The running back once again led the league in rushing in 1986, amassing 1,821 yards on 404 carries.
In all, Dickerson rushed for 7,245 yards for Los Angeles from 1983-1987 -- a franchise record that stood for two decades.