Undrafted out of the University of Delaware in 1979, Ivory Sully, a Leonia, NJ native, could have driven eight miles from his home to the Meadowlands and sign with the Giants. Or he could have headed to Southern California and sign with the Rams.
"Those were my two choices. I'd never been out west in my life, so I took a chance," Sully said. "I packed two suitcases and I told my mom, 'Mom, I love you, but I don't plan on coming back. I plan on making this team.'"
A. He made the team.
B. Forty-two years later, he's still in Los Angeles.
A running back in college, he began training camp with the Rams playing at the same position. That lasted one day.
"My road was a long road. On the second day of training camp, Ray Malavasi, who was our (head) coach, called me into his office. I thought I was going to get cut before the first week, for crying out loud," Sully laughed. "But he told me, 'We're going to move you to defensive back. We think that you've got a lot of speed and we want to see if you could learn how to play that.'
"So what I ended up doing was going back to my room. I cried my eyes out and said, 'I don't know what I'm going to do. Screw it, let's just go get this thing done.' One thing I could do, I could fight and I could make things happen. And I could run. So, I made it stick and I made it happen. Thank God I had great guys on the team to help me learn how to backpedal."
In Sully's rookie season, he and his backpedal instructors/teammates won four of their last five games to earn the NFC West conference title for a seventh straight year. And after upsetting Dallas in the first round of the playoffs, the Rams shut out Tampa Bay in the NFC Championship Game, and met Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XIV.
"We had a core on our team that had just missed making the Super Bowl the year prior in 1978. So there was an attitude and an understanding on a very veteran team of what the goal was," Sully said. "And I think what happened was a combination of veteran leadership, knowing what to expect as we go deeper into the playoffs, and how to get over that hump.
"We had a very veteran team, but we also had a slashing of young guys such as myself. I was so blessed to be able to be there. The expectation was, you've got to make plays to make this team. So the bottom line is, we made plays to make it to the Super Bowl."
The Steelers won, 31-19.
With the Rams for five more seasons, Sully, a backup safety and special teams standout, was chosen to be a captain three times. What did it mean to him to be looked upon as a team leader?
"Humbled. Flattered that they thought so much of me that they would put me in that position," Sully said. "But I had to focus. We had some of the best special teams in the league for years. And there's a reason why. We had great guys that bought in. And nobody bought in, I don't think, in the league more than the Los Angeles Rams and our special teams. We were special, we really were."
Playing for Tampa and Detroit to round out his nine-year career, Sully witnessed firsthand that Rams fans are special in their own right.
"Rams fans are definitely different. L.A. is a melting pot of people from around the country," Sully said. "And so what you'll find from time to time is allegiance to the visiting team because of the diversity that L.A. has in attracting people from other areas of the country.
"You've definitely got a type of fan that is unique in the fact that they root for the Rams for every game except for if their childhood team come into town, they're going to root for them. But the loyalty to the Rams is there territorially."
Sully makes his home in Anaheim with his wife, Sylvia. They have four children: Jacob, Amber, Megan, and Jasmine; and three grandchildren. An independent contractor, he owns a business called Ivory Sully & Associates.
"It doesn't hurt to say you played with the Rams when you're in L.A., that's for sure," Sully laughed. "I work in the licensing and branding arena. And in doing that, now it's more like the people are the brand when you personalize it, there's an automatic connection. So I can't say that that hasn't helped me procure customers and accrue a good base of people that I represent. It definitely is symbiotic.
"I work with an assessment tool [PDP Works Global] called ProScan. This tool is so remarkable. It's been around for 40 years and it's been used over six million times to create this algorithm that is 97 percent accurate in identifying your personal, individual, unique strengths."
Sully continued. "I can't lie and say the pandemic hasn't really put a dent in the effect of that business. However, the business model in and of itself is there to help people that are transitioning out of one area of life and into the next. And ProScan is an unbelievable tool for bringing out what your strengths are, your God-given strengths.
"I'm in a phase that I'm transitioning into older age. I might not want to work as hard. So what do I do best? I discovered that what I do best is serve people. My ideal for service of people is the thing that really makes me happy. And it makes me proud."