George Andrews, a linebacker who was drafted by the Rams in the first round out of Nebraska in 1979, quickly discovered that a lot more separates his hometown of Omaha and Los Angeles than 1,552 miles.
"I'd never been even to California at that point in my life, so, yeah, it was a big transition," Andrews said. "I can remember driving in, and what I thought was a forest fire coming down the 15 into the basin actually was just the smog. I had one address to go to, and I didn't know another soul. I finally made it to the hotel where they were putting us up for a mini-camp."
Granted, it was long before Facebook, but Andrews started compiling a friends list at mini-camp and later during training camp at Fullerton State. It helped to make his adaptation to the pros a little easier.
"I was fortunate. The linebackers that I was with, that were starting back then, were Jim Youngblood and Jack Reynolds and Bob Brudzinski," Andrews said. "Obviously, we were competing and all of that, but all of them were more than willing to help me. It was right after Isiah Robertson had (been traded to Buffalo), so I came in and played behind Bob Brudzinski that first year."
Andrews' timing couldn't have been much better. "That first year," the Rams made the playoffs, won the NFC Championship, and played Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XIV.
"It was very special because it was here in Los Angeles at the Rose Bowl, and I think it's still the highest attended Super Bowl ever [103,985]," Andrews said. "And we were playing the Steelers, who were the team of the decade. So all the circumstances that surround the Super Bowl, and then, obviously, the letdown when you didn't win…
"But it was really an amazing experience. Being a rookie, you always think we're fortunate to get there, maybe I'll get back. But I never made it back to the Super Bowl."
After nine games the following season, Andrews went from being a backup to a starter when Brudzinski, who wasn't pleased with his contract, surprised the team and his teammates by leaving.
"I had no idea. I just walked into the linebacker room where we always had meetings, and he wasn't there," Andrews said. "I was backing him up, and so it didn't take long to figure out that I needed to step it up. That gave me the opportunity that I needed, and I ended up starting until I got hurt in year six."
Andrews suffered a knee injury in his sixth season with the Rams, which would lead to a second knee injury, and ultimately end his playing career.
"We were playing in the old St. Louis stadium, the baseball stadium, and it was on turf. I jumped to block a pass and got hit by a tackle that twisted my shoulders back enough when my leg was planted into the ground, that it just popped the (left knee's) anterior cruciate," Andrews said.
"It didn't seem like it was going to be too bad. But I tried to come back six weeks after having some microscopic surgery, and the first day in practice, I tore the whole thing in two. So I went ahead and rehabbed that, and came back the next season in time for training camp. We were playing at Anaheim Stadium (during the preseason); I rushed the passer and tore the anterior cruciate in the other knee.
"And so within nine months, I was dealing with two rehabs. I did my best to try to come back, but all I could do was run straight ahead at that point. I couldn't cut real well. I moved inside for one week, trying to learn inside linebacker, but it was just too much coming at me. I'd played outside my whole life, so it was time for them to let me go."
Back-to-back knee injuries, months of rehab, and not being able to play again, how'd Andrews endure that clearly trying period of his life, and beyond?
"I had come to a faith in Christianity in college, and so it was a time for that, really, to be tested. And I really did lean on that," Andrews said. "I was involved in our chapel studies and bible studies, and so it was just one of those trials that we all go through in life.
"I had a thing that I just followed by never quitting. I think that I gave it my all throughout my entire Rams career. And so I'm proud of that and the relationships I built with friends.
"And it's been just wonderful with the Rams coming back to L.A. and reaching out to some of the older players that I haven't been around. Reconnecting with those guys, it's been a lot of fun. I think the Rams organization has really stepped up."
Andrews discovered what would be his second career towards the end of his playing career, and 34 years later, is still at it is a Senior Financial Advisor with Ronald Blue Trust in Irvine.
"I got married in 1983, and my wife, Heidi, and I hired this group called Ronald Blue Trust, and they helped us as we were initially dealing with all the financial issues. And after that, I said, 'I think I might like doing this,'" Andrews said. "We knew then you weren't going to be able to retire when you left football. So I got to know the gentleman that started the company, and he hired me six months after I got released by the Rams.
"I moved to Atlanta for six years and trained there, and then came back to Orange County and opened an office in 1992. I stepped down from managing the office four years ago and I'm just working with clients that I've had for many years. I really have enjoyed counseling and working with people. It's got a biblical perspective to it, so I have some principles that I've followed that have worked well for a lot of my clients."
Making their home in Orange County, the Andrews' have three children: George III, Kaitlin, and Ryan; a grandson, August, a granddaughter, Clara, and a second granddaughter who will be named Penny, when she is born in December.