Wednesday, January 13, 2016

You CAN go home again

First let me say my heart goes out to the people of St. Louis. You have a great sports town. It’s heartbreaking when a team you love leaves you. Especially when it happens twice. I hope you get another team to take its place. That said…

YAY! The LOS ANGELES Rams are coming home!

Finally, after 21 years I can give a shit about the NFL again. The LOS ANGELES Rams were my boyhood team.  And once they left -- meh. 

I tried still rooting for them and I was thrilled that they won a Super Bowl (something they never did in Los Angeles). But that’s like still wishing your ex-girlfriend well after she married someone else when you know you'd rather run them both over with your car. My son is a big Patriots fan so I sort of rooted for them. But that’s a little like watching STAR WARS and rooting for the storm troopers. My buddy Dan Hoard is the radio voice of the Bengals so I kind of followed them. But after that last playoff game with Pittsburgh it’s like deciding whether to root for the Crips or the Bloods. Another announcing buddy is Josh Lewin of the Chargers but to say they’re an “LA team” is like saying Lady Gaga is an award-winning actress. I’m a part owner of the Green Bay Packers. Well… me about 10,000 other people who paid a couple hundred bucks for the share. And after my time in Seattle, I still wish the Seahawks well and make sure I catch every one of their games when they’re in the Super Bowl.

So in short, I kinda sorta root for every team in the NFL other than the Dallas Cowboys. But by rooting for all, I really root for none.

And now finally, I have MY team back.

They were the team I grew up with. And most of the time they were bad. But I didn’t care. I’d go with my father to the Coliseum, sit on those hard benches, pray I wouldn’t have to use one of those disgusting bathrooms or get a splinter, and see my heroes -- Jon Arnett, Les Richter, Ollie Matson, Roman Gabriel, and other unforgettable players I can’t recall at the moment.

And just as cool was seeing the opposition -- Johnny Unitas, Y.A. Tittle (Or, as Ed Sullivan once called him on national TV, “Ya Tittle.”), Jim Brown, Fran Tarkenton, Sonny Jurgenson, etc.

Eventually, in the ‘60s the Rams got good. They had the Fearsome Foursome – Rosie Grier (a mean son of a bitch who knitted), Lamar Lundy, Deacon Jones, Merlin Olsen along with Fred Dryer (like all former players when they retire, Merlin and Fred starred in TV dramas) and other equally fearsome fellows. It seemed like every year they’d win their division, go into Minnesota or Washington where it was 10 degrees and get blown out. And I’d be bummed (not like Viking fans after last Sunday but still). Over the last 21 years I can honestly say I have not broken a single lamp. And that’s just wrong for a real sports fan.

The Rams were also blessed with great announcers. First, Bob Kelley, then Dick Enberg, Dave Niehaus, and Bob Starr. In 1969 when I was an intern at KMPC radio (home of the Rams) I got to be the gofer for Rams home games. I would keep track of scores around the league, and then in the fourth quarter Dick would tell me who he wanted for his postgame guest, and I would trundle down to the field and grab him after the game. So I got to stand on the Rams bench for maybe the last minute and a half of games. (That was fun. After the gun sounded I was almost trampled weekly as the team thundered into the locker room. That was not fun.)

Having the Rams come back is like having a little of my youth return. Just the fact that I’m excited again about pro football is an emotion I haven’t had since, well… since I did have my youth. So many memories. Like the time Don Drysdale was the analyst with Dick Enberg (yes, THAT Don Drysdale) and quarterback Pat Haden got crushed. He lay on the ground motionless for several minutes as Enberg described the scene. Finally Don chimed in, “Dick, I gotta believe it’s nothing worse than a serious head injury.”

God, it’ll be good to have my Los Angeles Rams back.  Now, if only we can talk Dick Enberg out of retirement... Or Fred Dryer...

45 comments:

Carol said...

'So in short, I kinda sorta root for every team in the NFL other than the Dallas Cowboys.'

And Philly sports fans love you for that. Apparently we hate the Cowboys. No idea why.

My favorite football team is Manchester United, followed closely by Leicester City.

Jim S said...

Ken,

Consider yourself lucky. In an alternative universe, your radio days in Detroit paid off and you became a beloved personality. (Detroiters are nothing if not loyal if they like you. Radio guys from the 1970s still have jobs here). You stay in town and have to root for the Lions.

Also, you neglected to mention Rosie Grier's magnum opus "The Man with Two Heads" co-starring Ray Milland.

Mike Barer said...

Happy that the Rams came back because I was a big fan before the Seahawks burst upon the scene also was an Oakland Raider fan (I thought of the AFL as a separate league). The Raiders skipped back off to LA. LA Raiders never sounded right, but then they return to Oakland. The return seems to be a bust and they are still trying to re-return to LA. Is that crazy or what?
You are much better off with the Rams. here's hoping that a decade from now they are not talking about returning to St Louis, because we all know it's the Cardinals that belong there. Right, that team that went to Phoenix, uh, Arizona.

Fred Vogel said...

You took the words right out of my keyboard.

Curt Alliaume said...

Pat Summerall continued to do the occasional game after he officially retired from Fox - I don't see why Dick Enberg couldn't do a game or two for the Los Angeles Rams, especially given he's not actually retired (the 2016 season will be his final one with the Padres).

Oh, my!

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Those poor St Louis fans.
It also means that Oakland is stuck in Oakland, and possibly San Diego charges up north to Carson to share the stadium with the Rams.

I'm sure the traffic situation will take care of itself...pfft.

It also means that I can watch "Heaven Can Wait" and know it can really happen that way...

LouOCNY said...

One of the perks of being on the Rams and Dodgers in the 60s and 70s, was that it was possible to have some chance to get a movie/TV career going - or at very least, make appearances on shows. When Leo Durocher became a coach for the Dodgers, he started showing up on a LOT of the sitcoms that were on back then. The classic is the MR ED, where not only Leo shows up, but also Koufax, Drysdale, Moose Skowren and John Roseboro - but not the actual MANAGER of the Dodgers, Walt Alston, who apparently had all the personality of the gum inside a pack of baseball cards.

Glenn E said...

So when Beatty unleashes his long awaited Howard Hughes movie this year, he can follow up with a reprise of L.A. Rams Joe Pendleton in “Heaven Can Still Wait”. The Rams back in Los Angeles, Star Wars dominating the world – 1978 lives again!!

Alan Christensen said...

I welcome the move because it means that much less travel for the Seahawks. I never got used to "St. Louis Rams."

And I never knew that Niehaus ever did football!

Michael said...

I still feel for the fans in Cleveland who lost the Rams in the 1940s. Of course, they got the Browns ... Oh, that's right. They left, too. Now they have the new version of the Browns, instead of an NFL team.

iain said...

Ken, I'm happy for die-hard LA football fans like you, but based on history, it'll take more than a shiny new stadium to hold the interest of the fans once the losing starts. & remember, along with the team, you've inherited one of the worst owners & organizations in the NFL.

I'm from Cleveland. I know all about bad billionaire owners. Good luck.

Frank Kuchno said...

The Rams going back to LA.....justice finally being served.
I just wonder how many more teams will relocate there this off-season?
Maybe the NFL can have an entire division of LA teams.....Rams....Chargers.....Raiders.....etc.
I mourn for the St Louis fans.....and rejoice for the LA fans.....
who spent years filling the Coliseum disguised as empty benches.
But growing up in Southwestern Pennsylvania.....there is really only ONE NFL team.
Remember Super Bowl XIV? Yes.....of course you do. :)

Neal Grinnell said...

"My son is a big Patriots fan so I sort of rooted for them. But that’s a little like watching STAR WARS and rooting for the storm troopers"

That hurts Ken(Patriots), but I get it!!!

Stephen Marks said...

People forget that Joe Namath finished his career with the Rams. When he heard that the owner was someone named Carroll who was willing to pay large for a "foursome" poor Joe's wobbly knees practically buckled under the excitement of it all. Unfortunately Hollywood Joe lasted only 3 snaps with the Rams before he was helped off the field by a couple of plastic breasted blondes and hobbled straight onto the set of The Waverley Wonders to begin his second career as a drunk. The last great name to play for the Rams was actually Vince Ferragamo, a good looking Namath wannabe who came up here to play for the Montreal Alouettes. Poor Vince only lasted one year in the CFL, leading Montreal to a 3-13 record while bitching and whining about the playbook being in French. But now the Rams are back in LA and after they do the paperwork involved in changing their name to the Cardinals and giving Anheuser-Busch the naming rights to their new stadium all will be right again and Ken will be happy.

Tom Quigley said...

I can envision Dick Enberg's comment in reaction to Ndamukong Suh stomping on the head of every quarterback he faces:

"Touch 'em all!"

Canda said...

I suggest people read the sports page and sports columnists in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch today to get an idea how people feel about Billionaires shafting fans and taking municipal money.

It could be a Bernie Sanders political ad.

Canda said...

I suggest people read the sports page and sports columnists in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch today to get an idea how people feel about Billionaires shafting fans and taking municipal money.

It could be a Bernie Sanders political ad.

VP81955 said...

The Rams are the NFL's equivalent of the Braves -- three championships in three different cities. (Braves: World Series titles in 1914, Boston; 1957, Milwaukee; 1995, Atlanta. Rams: NFL titles in 1945, Cleveland; 1951, Los Angeles; 1999, St. Louis.)

I'd like to see the Rams revert to the classic royal blue and gold uniforms of their 1950s glory days, with the stripes on the arms -- including the gold "third" jersey. Classy and understated, like the Dodgers' uniform.

I'm happy for Angelenos, who now know how I felt in 2004 when it was announced that 33 lonely summers without baseball in Washington thankfully were coming to an end.

Your move, Mr. Spanos; I have a feeling the Los Angeles Chargers again will exist in 2017, probably playing in a temporarily expanded StubHub Center. (It's not 1960, when the Dodgers, SC, UCLA, Rams and Chargers all called the Coliseum home.)

GS in SF said...

On the one hand I think it is great for rivalries. The SF-LA rivalry is one of the best but has been missing for 20 years.

Enjoy this feeling because in the modern world it does not last long. Since the Rams were last in LA you've had the explosion of 24/7 social media. That means that every stupid thing a player says or does is known within 2 minutes. So your heroes are torn down pretty quickly, if they were ever built up.

I remember the Niners in their last Super Bowl and thinking that the uniforms are the same, the team is my local team, but I did not actually *like* the players. And when I found out from TMZ that a few Niners players were at a strip club a few nights before the Super Bowl, not only did I know the Niners would not win but I liked them even less. I mean, you've got the biggest game of your life coming up and you can't focus for a week beforehand without a strip club trip?

You just can't compare Aldon Smith, Michael Crabtree and Colin Kaepernick to Joe Montana, Roger Craig, and Ronnie Lott. Now, were these heroes of my youth just better people (almost certainly yes) but even if they weren't I knew nothing about their personal lives and preferred it that way.

So hold on to your memories of the Fearsome Foursome, because unfortunately when you get to know more about the *new* Rams you are more likely to learn via Twitter what a player does personally than professionally, and the Tweet you see will more likely describe a player caught in a compromising position in a foursome (and I don't mean golf), without any mention to the "fearsome" part.

benson said...

IF there's a sports god, then the Baltimore Orioles revert to being the St. Louis Browns. St. Louis is a baseball town.

And then the NY Yankees can revert to being the Baltimore Orioles. And the Dodgers can revert to Brooklyn, Giants to NY and New York is back to being home to three baseball teams, with the added bonus of eliminating the Yankees, whom everyone hates.

blinky said...

24 years ago I watched the 49ers beat the Rams 48-0 while my wife was in labor. The TV was behind her and she thought I was the best husband ever since I stayed by her side and was cheering her on.
My son had the courtesy to wait until the game was over to be born.

IF in Florida said...

I think its Ollie Matson,not Ollie Madsen. Not related to Micheal Madsen.Congrats from on old Eagles fan but I'm sure alot of furious fans left behind

Rob said...

Totally agree with you, Ken. Brings back my youth. The Rams were waiting for me when my family moved here in 1963. Great to have them back.

I know St Louis is upset at losing the team they stole from us 20 years ago. So I for one would be OK with calling the team "The St. Louis Rams of Los Angeles."

Cap'n Bob said...

So a city that can't support a team loses it. The team goes to another city that can't support it and the team returns to the first city that couldn't support it. Makes sense to me. And to makes things even more logical, they send another team to the city that couldn't support even one.

I'm surprised no one mentioned that Rosie Grier did needlepoint, not knitting.

mmryan314 said...

St.Louis was just saved from throwing $400 million down the drain right into the Mississippi River. It would take a lot more than a football stadium to revitalize it`s city. Now there`s hope.

Norm! said...

Did you know the Rams are the only team to have won an NFL championship and then move the next year? Cleveland did not rock then! They lost the world champions to LA. This team should be the Nomads, not the Rams. I think when I first started following football, Norm Van Brocklin was the Rams QB, and led them to their only title.

John said...

Back in the 1960s, when the Rams got good, CBS still showed the halftime band shows instead of an in-studio halftime highlights show, and the Rams' halftimes at the Coliseum eventually expanded to the point that would make any of the recent Super Bowl halftimes look short and restrained by comparison (the most interminable one I can remember was the one in 1969 celebrating the movie "Paint Your Wagon", which IIRC, included just about everything from the movie except for Clint Eastwood singing).

Ray said...

My earliest remembrance of Dick Enberg was as host of a syndicated quiz show called "Sports Challenge," where members of two pro teams competed against each other. There are a few Youtubes of it kicking around. Johnny Gilbert was the announcer on the Chiefs-Dolphins matchup I watched remembering the show- sounding exactly as he still does for Jeopardy!

thomas tucker said...

LOL, that Drysdale story is hilarious.
@Carol: having grown up in Dallas, the rivalry between Dallas and Philadelphia back in the 70's was fierce, and so we always hated each other. Plus, Philly had whatwe thought were dirty players on their team who loved verbally threatening the Dallas quarterbacks in the week leading up to a game ( Craig Morotn, and Roger Staubach in those days.)

Anonymous said...

I'm writing this before I read the comments, lol.

I love football. Not quite as much as baseball, but its immediate, rough, and right in your face sometimes. A high school classmate of mine played for the Buffalo Bills for 13 years or so (he replaced OJ), so we all paid a bit more attention. The Cardiac Cards of the '70s, with Air Coryell, was so much fun, I even got the girls at college to watch. It broke the city's heart when Bidwell and the local politicians couldn't get together on a new stadium and the team flew to AZ. They rejoiced when we got a second chance when the local girl brought the Rams here. We had a hell of a ride for 20 years and thought it could all be worked out.

I never thought it was right that Georgia was able to move the Rams to St. Louis. I don't like that they can hold a city hostage (if the city cares enough) for money to build a stadium. (You want all of the revenue the stadium generates? You pay for it.) It never seemed right to me.

My only warning to the people of LA? Stan is not a standup guy unless you give him exactly what he wants. He's part of the Walmart clan...enough said. Glad we're done with him; we're probably done with the NFL, too.

Pam, St. Louis

stephen catron said...

Oh Ken. I didn't even finish the article before I had to write this. I knew, I knew you were a good man. An honerable man but couldn't quite put my finger onto as to why. Now I know, you hate the Cowboys. As for the Rams, I grew up in Virginia near no team so I picked the Rams as my team because of their uniforms and the fearsome foursome. Then I moved to Philly and now the Eagles are my team, thus my hatred for the cowboys. Glad you're getting your team back. And glad Oakland is keeping theirs, that's where the Raiders belong.

Anonymous said...

Ken: The Redskins weren't beating them in the playoffs in those days.
The Vikings, yes, and the Packers and the Colts, who were very good, but until Lombardi got to Washington in 1970, the Redskins didn't have a winning season for over a decade let alone a playoff team.

Jon B. said...

I was 13 when the Seattle Pilots left Seattle. I'm still bitter, which is weird, because I have been a faithful Mariners supporter since 1977. Don't get me started on the Seattle SuperSonics, my first love from 1967. I will always hate OKC for stealing the Sonics.

I'm not exaggerating. These are lifelong attachments for many of us, as irrational as that may seem to some.

Jon B. said...

Despite twice having been through the heartbreak of losing a beloved team (Pilots and SuperSonics), I still cannot gin up much sympathy for the fans in St. Louis, who stole the Rams from LA in the first place. I know that seems shallow. Especially considering all the kids who don't know that history.

MikeK.Pa. said...

Rams are back where they belong. St. Louis bleeds red for the Cardinals. Every other sport is a distant second there. I remember how outraged the Baltimore fans were when the Colts left, but they had no problem embracing the Browns coming to their town. Fans are just as fickle as owners. Cities and states need to stop funding stadiums for owners pulling in hundreds of millions of dollars for huge TV contracts. They have no shame. Hard to hate the Cowboys when they have Jerry Jones as an owner. It's like having a time bomb inside the organization that constantly self destructs - every year.

Mike Doran said...

Apparently no one besides me is old enough to remember ...

The Chicago Cardinals.

One of the earliest member teams of the NFL.

Around the same time as the Decatur Staleys.

Stolen from Chicago by the Bidwill brothers, who killed local interest by trading the most popular player on the team.

The player was Ollie Matson.
The team that got him - the Los Angeles (formerly Cleveland) Rams.
And that's how St. Louis got the Football Cards to go along with the Baseball Cards.

(And you wonder why more and more people don't follow professional sports anymore ...)

VincentS said...

FRIDAY QUESTION: Have you caught any of the MASH reruns MeTV is showing that have the laugh track removed? They were difficult to watch at first but I've gotten used to them and I think I'm actually beginning to enjoy them. Your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

@ Mike Doran:
don't be fooled.
Old Man Halas had a lot to do with the Cardinals leaving Chicago, making it a one team town for the Bears.

norm said...


Ken,
Did you notice the splashy logo for the "L" Superbowl?
Oops I meant to say the logo the 5 0 Super bowl.

The NFL goes 49 years teaching all of us the Roman numerals again. I, II, III IV etc.
Then they get to "L" and they change it so they can be sure and hype it up with the advertisements to show 5 0 Super.... Anyone want to bet on the logo for next year?? LI maybe ? Only the Pro sports leagues can get away with it.

Tom Quigley said...

Norm! said...

"Did you know the Rams are the only team to have won an NFL championship and then move the next year?"

True, but it also happened in the AFL when the Dallas Texans won the league title in 1962 (in the longest game played up until then) and then owner Lamar Hunt moved the team to Kansas City the next year at which time they became the Chiefs. It apparently didn't seem to be any great loss on the part of Dallas football fans, however. The NFL had awarded a franchise to Dallas in 1960 to counter the AFL's move and the rest, as they say, is history.

MikeN said...

Surprised to see the Rams and other teams move to LA. For so long, LA served as the ultimate extortion tool for the NFL. Pay up or you lose your team to LA. And it worked, with St Louis offering a billion dollar package to keep the team.

Mike Doran said...

To Mr. Anonymous:

Nobody who's followed sports In Chicago his whole life is fooled by anything.

We learn early to expect the worst, and we usually get it.

The NFL was only one 12-team league when the Bidwills moved the Cards to St. Louis.

I'm sure Halas didn't weep at their departure, but the move happened because the brothers were tired of being Number Two in Chicago.

Something of the same thing happened when Reinsdorf and Einhorn bought the White Sox years later.
It was their intention from the word go to move the team to Florida (home base for Reinsdorf's realty empire); they very nearly pulled it off.
(Many here still believe they had the same destination in mind for the Bulls.)
Ren&Ein were the most surprised ones in the room when the Illinois State legislature gave them the new stadium - setting the model for all the ballpark extortions to come.
... and that's another reason that I lost interest in pro sports ...

Michael Ryan said...

I was just reading your blog now and was happy as hell that someone shared my same feelings about the L.A. Rams. Here is my Facebook post from the day I heard the news they were coming back to L.A.

A DAY LIKE NO OTHER
Way back there in the '60s when I was just a dumb kid growing up in Southern California life kind of took the wind out of my sails. A small part of this void was filled by a team of men called the Los Angeles Rams. They were my passion, I followed them and they were my heros. I even got to meet the quaterback, Roman Gabriel, who talked to me and gave me some words of inspiration. This love affair went on until 21 years ago, when through a tragic twist of fate the team moved to another city (which I won't even mention here). I was SICK. From that day forward I stopped watching the NFL. In the last 21 years I probably watched fewer than 5 games. However, TODAY, a day like no other, all that is holy and all that is good has seen fit to deliver me from the darkness and I'm feeling, once again, like that kid I use to be. THE RAMS ARE MOVING BACK TO LOS ANGELES. Hallelujah and amen, brother. Thank you for this day. I only wish Deacon Jones (the greatest defensive end of all time) were alive to enjoy this day. Welcome home, boys, for this is where you were meant to be.

Anonymous said...

st louis is a baseball town

chuckcd said...

Oh, when did the Rams LEAVE L.A.?