The Los Angeles Rams believe they’ve found their franchise quarterback as they get ready for their return to Los Angeles.
He’s Jared Goff selected with the top overall selection in this year’s NFL Draft. The Rams acquired the top pick from the Tennessee Titans for a huge ransom of draft picks including this year’s 15th overall pick as well as next year’s Rams first round draft pick.
We would be out literally in practice, during practice, talking about playing in LA. Honestly. How nice would it be to be practicing in LA? Just go to the mall after practice in LA. It’s such a beautiful day in LA all the time.
Some bold statements and, no doubt, a bit of controversy during Friday’s NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Media Day.
Los Angeles is so attractive. All the people that are out here, all the celebrities. The celebrity that you get from playing for the LA team. All the hookups that you’re going to get — you’re going to go to restaurants and clubs, get clothes. I played in New York, so I saw the big town, the media. There are so many eyes on you it’s a great opportunity
The bold one was St. Louis Rams wide receiver Steve Smith. He said this coming season would be the last for the Rams in St. Louis and that he and his Rams teammates prefer to play in Los Angeles and would be kicking off in the City of Angels in 2014.
Smith, a native of Los Angeles who played his college ball at USC and attended Taft high school in Woodland Hills, Calif. (not coincidentally the same high school and college of current Rams head coach Jeff Fisher.), was one of five expert panelists discussing the return of the NFL to Los Angeles.
“We’re thankful for the city of St. Louis.” Smith said. He continued, “But it’d be a treat to be located back home in Los Angeles.”
Of course, the Rams called Los Angeles home from 1946 until their move to St. Louis to kickoff the 1995 season. They’re now locked in arbitration with the city of St. Louis on the cost to make the Edward Jones Dome a “first tier” NFL stadium and could break their lease after the 2014 season.
I was able to catch up and interview Smith on camera after the panel discussion and asked him to elaborate on his bold predictions regarding the Rams and Los Angeles:
Last year was Smith’s first with the Rams. He played in just nine games catching 14 passes for 131 yards and no touchdowns.
Beginning in 1946, after their move from Cleveland because they couldn’t compete with the Browns, the Los Angeles Rams called Southern California home for 49 years. The first 34 at the 100,000 seat L.A. Memorial Coliseum and the last 15 at Anaheim Stadium before moving to the Midwest in 1995.
Had the Rams not been supported by WE Angelenos throughout that half-century, you figure they would have left after year five.
During a 13 year period in the modern Super Bowl era from 1967 to 1979, the Rams won nine division titles, seven of those in consecutive seasons, played in seven conference championship games and one Super Bowl all the while attracting crowds at the Coliseum in excess of 65,000 to over 70,000 every Sunday afternoon.
In my interview with Hall-of-Fame defensive end Jack Youngblood and tight end Bob Klein, stars for the Rams during those years, both told me they fed off the energy of those Coliseum crowds. Fans that are still devoted to them today.
Former L.A. Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloomleft L.A. for Anaheim in ’79 because the Coliseum Commission and L.A. politicians wouldn’t fork over taxpayer dollars to upgrade the Coliseum. Anaheim DID enclosing the Big “A” without its then-primary tenant, the California Angels, reaping any benefits whatsoever, so it could gain elite status as a city that an NFL team called home.
It’s why Al Davis moved the Raiders to L.A. from Oakland in 1982 and then back to Oakland in ‘95. ‘84 when Bob Irsay moved the Colts from Baltimore for Indianapolis. ‘87 when Bill Bidwell moved the Cardinals from St. Louis to Phoenix. ’95 when Frontiere moved the Rams to St. Louis from Anaheim. ‘96 when Art Modell moved the Browns from Cleveland to Baltimore. ’97 when Bud Adams moved the Oilers to Tennessee from Houston.
These owners didn’t pack up their teams and leave their former cities because of the lack of fan support. It always has been and will be about stadium upgrade issues.
Not coincidentally, the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders are on the possible relocation list because they play in two of the three most outdated stadiums in the NFL. The San Francisco 49ers were on the list playing in the third.
The 49ers will be playing in a brand new $1.2 billion facility within the next couple of years in Santa Clara. A building privately funded with the 49ers borrowing $400 million. The Santa Clara Stadium Authority borrowing $450 million. $150 million from the league’s stadium fund. $40 million from the Santa Clara City Redevelopment Agency with the final $35 million coming from a hotel tax paid by tourists and visitors to the city.
I bring these three teams up because, if you include the L.A. Coliseum and Pasadena Rose Bowl, California has the five most archaic “NFL-ready” stadiums. Anaheim Stadium’s out of play because it’s now a baseball-only stadium if you don’t count a high school gridiron clash or two.
California’s citizens and its government entities won’t consider stadium plans of any sort to be publicly-funded using taxpayer dollars. Especially in these tough economic times. We’re absolutely right not to.
That’s why the state is home to the five most archaic “NFL-ready” stadiums in the country.
This is the ONLY reason why Los Angeles hasn’t been a part of the NFL for 17 seasons and counting.
This “extended road-trip” Los Angeles has endured could be coming to an end soon with not just one, but possibly two teams, from the list relocating here.
Upon releasing the 10,000 page EIR earlier this month on the steps of L.A.‘s City Hall, point-man Tim Leiweke addressed AEG’s vision for the return of the NFL to the City of Angels.
A team could be calling L.A. home in September of 2013 playing its home games at the Coliseum until Farmers Field is completed by 2017.
As for which team it will be. Take a look at the aforementioned list. The Rams (if any team should call L.A. home, it should be the Rams.) and the Vikings are the top two candidates for various reasons. Who will it be?
It’s going to happen. L.A. will be back in the NFL and the NFL will be back in Los Angeles. From any angle, it’s quite overdue.
Yes. There are plenty of things to do on a Sunday afternoon in the City of Angels, one of the greatest cities in the world, and the NFL should and will be one of them.
Photo courtesy: Eric Geller, AEG, Farmers Field, Los Angeles Times, stadiumsofprofootball.com, USA Today.
Rams minority owner Stan Kroenke wants full control of the franchise and is looking to purchase it from Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez. At issue, Kroenke owns the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. The NFL has rules against cross-ownership of teams in other major U.S. sports leagues. Kroenke seems to be able to clear such hurdles by signing over controlling interests of his other major sports teams to other family members.
Kroenke, also, seems to be working with L.A. sports & entertainment big-wigs to get them back where they belong, LOS ANGELES.
Earlier this week, St. Louis Globe-Democrat columnist Howard Balzer wrote:
It turns out Kroenke is a member of the league’s Los Angeles Stadium Working Group committee. Roll that one around in your mind a few minutes. Everyone I mentioned that to Thursday was silent for a few seconds, and then said, “Oh, my God.”
It means Kroenke is privy to every detail, every plan, simply everything that is related to those trying to get a stadium built there.
In a follow-up article from Saturday’s L.A. Times, Farmer added Wasserman and Leiweke want the proposed $1 billion stadium to have a retractable roof for use year round for a number of other events.
The Coliseum Commission isn’t a factor any longer because it’s locked in with USC which has rights of first refusal because the Trojans football team is the Coliseum’s major tenant.
The stadium would complete the L.A. Live entertainment corridor that was envisioned by AEG when the Staples Center was first built. Of course, the stadium proposal would need to be approved by the City of Los Angeles because the convention center is owned by the city.
In the article, Farmer added:
What’s more, the downtown bid would put Wasserman and Leiweke in direct competition with developer Ed Roski, who already has an entitled and shovel-ready piece of land in City of Industry to build a football stadium. There is only room for one such project in the L.A. area, and the Industry group is at least a year ahead of any other because it has clearance to build.
Another problem exists with the NFL. The current collective bargaining agreement ends after next season. The league is trying to avoid a labor dispute and subsequent work-stoppage in 2011.
The sticking point, team owners want the players to help in paying off the huge stadium costs.
The new CBA will take at least a year to negotiate which means no stadium will be built or team will re-locate while the NFL takes care of its CBA. That’ll give Wasserman and Lewieke a year to catch up with Roski.
When the time comes, I think these two competing stadium teams might want to join forces and work together on one site to benefit the greater Los Angeles Area, the NFL, maybe the Rams, and, first and foremost, the long suffering Los Angeles Rams fans.
The Rams called Los Angeles home for 49 years before (gulp) Georgia Frontiere moved them to St. Louis in 1994 claiming Los Angeles wouldn’t support them because there was too much to do in Southern California other than watch football.
I said it then and I’ll say it now. HELLO! 49 YEARS! Needless to say, Georgia pulled a “Major League” getting a sweet money deal in St. Louis while still residing in Bel-Air.
The City of Angels could soon be celebrating the Rams 50th Anniversary in Los Angeles (16 years, and counting, in the making) with St. Louis losing its second NFL franchise. That doesn’t have to happen.
Here’s a thought. When the Rams move back to Los Angeles, how about moving the struggling Jacksonville Jaguars to St. Louis and re-naming them the Stallions. Wasn’t that the idea when the league expanded 16 years ago anyway?
As far as a second team in the new Los Angeles Stadium. Do you really think Chargers owner Alex Spanos will sit put in San Diego and play in an aging Qualcomm Stadium when he can move his team into a state-of-the-art play-pen back in its original home just up Interstate 5?
FINALLY!! The NFL was the only league of any kind that had an overtime rule where it was not only possible, but probable, one of the two teams battling for the win in sudden death might not even see the ball on offense. The stat was true 60% of the time since 1994. Six out of 10 teams that won the overtime coin-toss, either, returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown to end the game, marched down the field to score a touchdown to end the game, or marched about 40 yards down the field to kick the game-winning field goal.
THAT WON’T HAPPEN AGAIN………at least during the playoffs.
The sudden death rule was ridiculous, especially when you consider both teams battled hard to the stale-mate and one team would be denied to match, or beat, the coin-toss winning teams score.
Both teams must have the opportunity to possess the ball once during the extra period, unless the team that receives the opening kickoff scores a touchdown on its initial possession, in which case it is the winner.
If the team that possesses the ball first scores a field goal on its initial possession, the other team shall have the opportunity to possess the ball. If [that team] scores a touchdown on its possession, it is the winner. If the score is tied after [both teams have a] possession, the team next scoring by any method shall be the winner.
If the score is tied at the end of a 15-minute overtime period, or if [the overtime period’s] initial possession has not ended, another overtime period will begin, and play will continue until a score is made, regardless of how many 15-minute periods are necessary.
That works for me. Consider last year’s NFC Championship Game. Tied at 28 after regulation, the eventual Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints won the coin toss and marched about 40 yards. Saints kicker Garrett Hartley sent New Orleans to the Super Bowl connecting on a 44 yard field goal dropping the Minnesota Vikings, 31-28. Brett Favre and the Vikings offense, who had double the yardage of the Saints in regulation, never saw the ball again. Had this new rule been in effect, Favre would’ve had the opportunity to tie or win the game. A shot the Vikings earned.
I’ve got to agree with ESPN NFL analyst Mike Golic. He says this is quite an improvement over the old sudden death rule. But, according to Golic, not good enough. Golic suggested a complete 15 minute quarter should be played until the final gun. The score at the end of the overtime period is the final…..unless both teams are still tied. In which case, you continue playing overtime periods removing three minutes for each extra quarter played until a winner is decided. In other words, after the initial 15 minute overtime is still dead-locked at its conclusion, the following O.T. quarter is cut to 12 minutes….and so on until a winner is clearly decided. If after five O.T. periods both are still dead-locked, then you go to sudden death. I like it.
Talk about “edge of your seat playoff excitement”. That sounds like the ultimate. Maybe, down the line that’ll be the O.T. rule. Now, at least both teams will have a shot.
Only thing I don’t like about the rule change is that it isn’t part of the regular season. Games tied after regulation will still be decided by the old “sudden death” format. That’s going to be a huge flaw if a teams playoff chances hinge on the one game decided in “sudden death”. That is, essentially, a playoff game.
Modify the new rule for the regular season. Have a complete, 15 minute overtime period. If both teams remain tied after the O.T. quarter, then go to the “sudden death” format with the first team scoring, be it a field goal or touchdown, winning the game. Maybe, down the line. We’ll see.
There were plenty of the usual, mundane, sports topics I contemplated writing about Thursday. I’ll get to them eventually. Forgot all about them when I found out Merlin Olsen died earlier that morning losing his battle against a form of lung cancer. He was 69.
Olsen played 15 seasons all for the Los Angeles Rams, never missing a game, was all-pro for 14 of those seasons garnering the Most Valuable Player Award in 1974, before retiring in 1976. He’s STILL the franchise leader in tackles with 915.
For many of you, Olsen is better remembered for his role as Jonathan Garvey on TV’s “Little House on the Prairie” and, later, starring in his own show, “Father Murphy”. Quite honestly, I never watched “Little House on the Prairie” or “Father Murphy”. I do remember his TV work as the pitch-man for FTD Florists and as Dick Enberg’s analyst on NBC-NFL broadcasts.
My fondest memories of Merlin Olsen are, as a little kid in the 1970‘s, about going to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sunday afternoons in the Fall and watching big number 74 stuff opposing running backs forcing teams to pass which enabled him and guys like Jack Youngblood and Fred Dryer to terrorize opposing quarterbacks. That was the era of the second incarnation of the “Fearsome Foursome”. Olsen and Larry Brooks were the interior defensive tackles with Youngblood and Dryer working either end of the line. Olsen IS the only link to both incarnations.
Back to the 70’s. It was an incredible time to be a Los Angeles Rams fan. Beginning in 1973, the Rams won an NFL-record seven straight NFC Western Division Titles. For the first four titles, Olsen was the leader on a Rams team that, defensively, would beat down opposing teams no matter what offensive super-star any team would challenge the Rams defense with. The Cowboys with Roger Staubach, Drew Pearson and Tony Dorsett. The Bills and O.J. Simpson. The Vikings with Fran Tarkenton and Chuck Foreman, the Cardinals and Jim Hart. The Steelers with Bradshaw, Swann, Stallworth and Harris. I’d always look forward to listening to the Rams Theme Song played by the Rams Band after big plays and wins. Was also fun to watch “Archy”, the ARCO Mascot, dance on the Coliseum scoreboard after big plays and scores. The following Monday morning, it was always a treat to re-live the game reading about it and cutting out the photographs in the L.A. Times and Herald Examiner sports sections.
I remember Merlin Olsen never danced after making a big tackle or quarterback sack never gloating over his victim like today‘s players seem to do as if it‘s part of the game. Many times Olsen would give his victim a helping hand off the turf and a pat on the behind. All the Rams defensive players followed his lead. Win or lose at the end of a game, Olsen was the first at mid-field to shake the opponents hands. Olsen respected the game and those who played it.
Olsen was genuinely a good guy on and off the field. The first TV interview I conducted as a broadcast journalism student was with Merlin Olsen. He was taking part in a celebrity fund-raiser golf event in Buena Park, California. To tell you how long ago that was………Ronald Reagan was President.
Needless to say, I was excited and extremely nervous to be interviewing one of my childhood heroes. Luckily, it wasn’t a live shot. I completely blanked. We turned off the camera excusing myself all the while to Mr. Olsen. He chuckled a bit and in a deep voice said to me, “No problems. We’re just having a nice conversation.” That’s what we had. A nice conversation.
Now, before interviewing anyone, especially kids, I remember looking up at Merlin Olsen, who was wearing a white golf cap that day way back when, and repeat what he said to me, “We’re just having a nice conversation”.
With his passing, I’ve lost another part of my childhood. The one where my father, brother and I would watch Merlin Olsen and the Rams at the Coliseum. What’s amazing to me, in this world of social media networking, I know I’m not the only one who’s lost a member of the family with Olsen’s passing.
On FaceBook, there’s a group called “Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams”. A group detailing stories of Autumn Sunday afternoons at the Coliseum and Anaheim Stadium when the Rams were thee sports team here…and hope there could be more memories in the future. Will it happen. Who knows.
In the meantime, you can find tributes to Merlin Olsen on that group’s page. That’s what’s sad. Only on that group page can they be found. We can’t go to the West Pico Boulevard Office of the Rams, across the street from the Rancho Park Golf Course. It no longer exists. We can’t go to Rams Park in Fullerton. It no longer exists. I suppose we can go to the Coliseum and put together a “memorial shrine” to Olsen near the Peristyle end of the stadium. Would anyone care.
The Rams left for St. Louis 16 years ago. Had they still called Los Angeles home during that time, Olsen and his “Fearsome Foursome” mates would have been celebrated in front of a packed stadium on one of those glorious L.A. Autumn Sunday afternoons. It never happened and it never will. Olsen and Lamar Lundy are gone. Rosey Grier, “The Deacon”, Jack Youngblood, Fred Dryer, Larry Brooks and Cody Jones are still around. But, we can’t pay tribute to these guys because Autumn Sunday Afternoons at the Coliseum with the Rams and the NFL no longer exist. That’s a disgrace.
But, along with the L.A. natives in the group “Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams”, I’m fortunate enough to have memories of those great times, great Rams teams and great players like Merlin Olsen. The rest of you missed out.
Maybe Roger Goodell and the NFL should think about having a pre-season game at the Coliseum with the Rams, playing in the blue and white throwbacks, taking on the San Francisco 49ers and hold pre-game and halftime ceremonies celebrating Merlin Olsen and the Fearsome Foursome. Better still, instead of having a regular season game in London, have it in Los Angeles at the Coliseum with the Rams, wearing blue and white throwbacks, taking on the 49ers and hold pre-game and halftime ceremonies celebrating Merlin Olsen, the Fearsome Foursome and the Los Angeles Rams. One game couldn’t hurt. Bet it’d be a sell-out. It’s a “no-brainer”. Maybe that’s too obvious and RIGHT for the NFL Suits to do.
Rest in Peace, Merlin Olsen. Live long in our hearts and memories along with the Los Angeles Rams and those glorious Autumn Sunday afternoons at the Coliseum.
Am I the only “Native Los Angeleno” that’s irritated the National Football League has an annual regular season game overseas in London, England….in a foreign country? I remember hearing the NFL made this happen to expose the “NFL Product” to untapped markets. Didn’t know London was in the running or even wanted an NFL Franchise. If I’m not mistaken, didn’t WLAF aka NFL Europe FAIL. Wasn’t “We LAF” a financial blunder by the NFL. Weren’t the London Monarchs in “We LAF”.
Quite honestly, Los Angeles is the untapped market the NFL should be investing its time, effort and “product” to BEGINNING WITH THE UPCOMING 2010 SEASON. The Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission, along with L.A. County & City Officials, should be on the phone EVERY DAY pestering NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the 32 league owners, until all are tired of hearing it and get the message. BRING THE NFL BACK TO LOS ANGELES, NOW!
Local lobbyists need to drive this point home. An L.A. NFL Team will help boost the currently sagging local economy and expose the game to kids who have missed out on seeing NFL stars, some who played collegiate football at USC and UCLA, live and in person. Oh, and the league will make $$$ too. That’s the name of the game, isn’t it?
Los Angeles needs to make the “NFL Suits” understand LOS ANGELES is the place to have the annual regular season football game, with the short-term goal of having a financially strong NFL franchise with a solid fan base in the greater Los Angeles area. Not in a foreign country located across the Atlantic Ocean.
AMERICAN FOOTBALL IS OUR GAME. Keep the “NFL dollar” flowing at home. I could care less about the British Pound and Wembley Stadium. If the league wants to have ONE annual regular season game in an old, dumpy, past its prime stadium….have it right here at the Coliseum until L.A.’s new, state-of-the-art stadium is built. Los Angelenos deserve that much. As a matter of fact, instead of heading overseas during the pre-season as well, the NFL should, also, consider having a pre-season game or two right here in Los Angeles or Pasadena.
The NFL is the most popular Sports & Entertainment ticket in the country. With it comes people spending dollars. That stimulates local economic growth for employment opportunities, small & large businesses, the city and the state. People like to be “where the action is”. They’ll spend their hard-earned money where that action is. The “NFL Action” needs to be right here in Los Angeles.
*Did you know the NFL NETWORK, owned an operated by THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE, has its MAIN STUDIOS in CULVER CITY…..in LOS ANGELES COUNTY. Yet, it hasn’t had an NFL franchise in Los Angeles since the 1994 season when the Rams and Raiders called L.A. home?
*Did you know the FOX NETWORK’S NFL PRE-GAME & POST-GAME SHOWS are broadcast out of a STUDIO right here in LOS ANGELES. Yet, there hasn’t been an NFL franchise in Los Angles since the 1994 season when the Rams and Raiders called L.A. home?