Hall of Fame R.B. Dickerson retires as a L.A. Ram, then named V.P. of Business Ops.

RAMS DICKERSON
Ex L.A. Rams running back Eric Dickerson (center) is flanked by Rams GM Les Snead (left) and head coach Sean McVay at Tuesday’s press conference announcing Dickerson has been hired as the team’s V.P. of Business Operations. courtesy: L.A. Daily News

Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson returned as a member of the Los Angeles Rams signing a one day contract Tuesday to officially retire as a Ram.

Later, General Manager Les Snead announced the Rams hired the 56 year old Dickerson as Vice President of Business Development.

“Really with the main goal of doing what he did for me a long time ago – bridging fans to our organization and then not only making them fans of the Rams, but making a difference in their life.”

Continue reading “Hall of Fame R.B. Dickerson retires as a L.A. Ram, then named V.P. of Business Ops.”

Ex Rams QB Ferragamo on New Rams QB Jared Goff

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.

Continue reading “Ex Rams QB Ferragamo on New Rams QB Jared Goff”

L.A. Rams get offensive with five of six draft picks. QB Jared Goff cornerstone

The Los Angeles Rams got offensive with five of their six 2016 Draft picks trying to upgrade a passing game that ranked dead last in the NFL last year.

The jewel in the draft haul is quarterback Jared Goff out of Cal taken with the top overall draft pick.

According to Rams head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead, Goff has all the traits of being an elite NFL quarterback justifying the trade they made with the Tennessee Titans for the top pick and some lower round selections in return for a bounty of draft picks which included this year’s 15th overall pick and the Rams top pick in next year’s draft.

To hear from Snead and what made Goff that missing quarterback piece in a possible championship puzzle, click on the video above.

With no picks during day two, the Rams made five selections in the drafts last day. Here are the Rams selections:

  • Jared Goff QB Cal. round 1, #1 overall, #1 in round
  • Tyler Higbee TE Western Kentucky, round 4, #110 overall, #12 in round
  • Pharoh Cooper WR South Carolina, round 4, #117 overall #15 in round
  • Temarrick Hemingway TE South Carolina St., round 6, #177 overall, #2 in round
  • Josh Forrest MLB Kentucky, round 6, #190 overall, #15 in round
  • Mike Thomas WR Southern Miss, round 6, #206 overall, #31 in round

The Rams have a young and stellar offensive line that gave up just 18 sacks last season and a running back in Todd Gurley III who galloped his way to the 2015 rookie of the year award. Adding the wide receivers and tight ends selected in the later rounds to these weapons are designed to help Goff succeed during his upcoming rookie season. He won’t have to do much because of that line and running game. Goff will just have to be a good game manager his first season learning on the fly, which is one of the attributes Rams brass said he demonstrated throughout his college career at Cal.

Adding a middle linebacker in Josh Forrest gives the defense added depth at that position after the Rams chose not to resign veteran linebacker James Laurinaitis.

The Rams also added rookie free agents to this draft class with all rookies heading to Oxnard next weekend for a rookie orientation.

L.A. Rams’ Fisher ecstatic after picking Cal QB Goff with top overall pick

The Los Angeles Rams used the first overall pick in the NFL draft Thursday selecting California quarterback Jared Goff. He becomes the face of a franchise back in the City of Angels for the first time in 22 seasons. The Rams called St. Louis home for 22 years. They were L.A.’s first pro team calling Los Angeles and Anaheim home from 1946 to 1994 prior to the move east.

Goff is the 22nd quarterback taken with the first overall pick in the common draft era (since 1967) and the first Cal quarterback to land in the first round since the Green Bay Packers took Aaron Rodgers at No. 24 in 2005.

In choosing Goff, the Rams are hoping he’ll be able to take over quarterback group that ranks last in the NFL in Total QBR since 2007. The Rams haven’t had a quarterback go to the Pro Bowl since Marc Bulger in 2006. The Rams bottomed out at the position in 2015 and ranked last in the league in passing yards (2,805), QBR (35.6), yards per attempt (6.2) and passing touchdowns (11).

At 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, Goff was the starter for the Cal Golden Bears for three seasons rewriting the Cal record books with more completions, passing yards and touchdowns than any quarterback in school history. He threw for 4,719 yards and 43 touchdowns in 2015 and owns 26 school records.

He excelled in Cal’s “Bear Raid” spread offense in which he spent more than 99 percent of his time taking snaps out of the shotgun. That means he’ll have an adjustment to make upon arrival in Los Angeles, as the Rams were in shotgun or pistol formation on fewer plays than any other team last season.

To hear from Rams head coach Jeff Fisher, general manager Les Snead and the top pick Jared Goff, click on Eric Geller’s video report from Rams draft headquarters.

Rams in Manhattan Beach talking L.A. logistics before permanent move

The Los Angeles Rams made it out to Manhattan Beach for meetings to help acclimate coaches and players to what awaits them in L.A. in regards to getting to and from home and work in traffic.

As most of us Los Angelenos know, it can be quite difficult getting to and from work on a daily basis.

Some of the old L.A. Rams – including hall of fame offensive lineman Jackie Slater – were at the meetings helping out the new version of Rams players and coaches.

Of course fifth year head coach Jeff Fisher is an L.A. native having grown up in Encino attending Taft High School prior to playing football at USC and for the Chicago Bears.

The Rams still have an old ticket office on Pico Blvd just across from the Rancho Park Golf Course that’s now used for other purposes.

It looks as if they’ll have new offices just north of Los Angeles in Calabasas right near the concert venue – The Canyon Club.

I heard some whispers at today’s Manhattan Beach meeting the team could be featured on this season’s HBO series Hard Knocks. That’s the reality series where cameras follow an NFL team during their Summer training camp. Makes a lot of sense considering the Rams call “the entertainment capital of the world” home once again.

To hear from the new and old Rams on the L.A. logistics, click on the video report above.

 

 

Rams owner “Silent Stan” Kroenke finally raises his voice

Rams owner Stan Kroenke purchased 60 acres of land between the Fabulous forum and Hollywood Park. Thanx: AP
Rams owner Stan Kroenke purchased 60 acres of land between the Fabulous forum and Hollywood Park.
Thanx: AP

According to unnamed sources, St. Louis Rams owner Stanley Enos Kroenke – the native of St. Louis named after Cardinals baseball legends Stan “the Man” Musial and Enos Slaughter – has purchased 60 acres of land in Inglewood sitting between the Fabulous Forum and Hollywood Park.

Just enough land to build a top tier football stadium.

Also known as “Silent Stan” for staying out of the media spotlight and rarely speaking publicly when it comes to his business ventures and pro sports franchises, it seems “Silent Stan” opened his office window and, like the TV news anchor in the 1976 movie NETWORK,  yelled to St. Louis,

“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

As I wrote in an article earlier this week, St. Louis’ sports media and fans have to be worried about the Los Angeles Rams.

The St. Louis media and football fans said L.A. wasn’t a factor going all-in on the outright lie that L.A. was a failure when it came to supporting an NFL team when in actuality L.A. supported the Rams 49 years prior to their move to the Midwest.

The St. Louis media said it was “in the know” about behind-the-scenes negotiations between the Rams and St. Louis for a new stadium.

Stan Kroenke wants a top tier stadium for his Rams. Thanx: L.A. Times
Stan Kroenke wants a top tier stadium for his Rams.
Thanx: L.A. Times

They said “Silent Stan” would build his own stadium in St. Louis.

It seems they were half right. He might build his own stadium.

In Los Angeles. Not St. Louis.

The Rams – and Raiders – move out of Los Angeles was all about stadium issues. Specifically, the lack of modern NFL ready facilities in the greater Los Angeles/Orange County areas.

If you’re still not convinced L.A. supported an NFL team, listen to ex-Los Angeles Rams stars Jack Youngblood and Bob Klein in interviews I did with each about two years ago.

Adding Hollywood Park to the shovel-ready Farmers Field site in Downtown L.A., it appears the Rams moving back to Los Angeles is seriously in play.

If St. Louis wasn’t worried about the Los Angeles Rams before, you can bet they are now.

This purchase gives Stanley Enos Kroenke amazing tourque with much leverage in his pursuit of a top tier stadium for his Rams in St. Louis or anywhere.

Ex-Rams GM John Shaw negotiated the "sweetheart lease" that moved the Rams to St Louis in 1995. Thanx: AP
Ex-Rams GM John Shaw negotiated the “sweetheart lease” that moved the Rams to St Louis in 1995.
Thanx: AP

That “sweetheart lease” negotiated by then Los Angeles Rams GM John Shaw moving the team to St. Louis for the 1995 season has stipulations in it calling for the Edward Jones Dome – formerly known as the Trans World Dome – to be in the top 25% of all NFL stadiums 10 and 20 years into the lease, or the Rams are free to go year-to-year in the Gateway City or move on to greener pastures.

Vilified by Rams fans in Los Angeles and Orange County for orchestrating the move of THEIR team to St. Louis in the mid-90s, it seems John Shaw could end up being a hero for negotiating that “sweetheart lease.”

It’s still too early to really tell what “Silent Stan” will do.

By now you know the story.

Arbiters ruled the Rams’ request for $700 million in upgrades to the EJD were approved while St. Louis’ plan for a $120 million upgrade isn’t an upgrade at all.

The Edward Jones Dome needs a $700 million face-lift St. Louis can't afford. Thanx: AP
The Edward Jones Dome needs a $700 million face-lift St. Louis can’t afford.
Thanx: AP

St. Louis can’t afford $700 million for a football stadium.

So, now we wait until the end of the upcoming season. That’s when that top-tier stipulation hits year 20 making the Rams free agents to play where they want.

What we do know is “Silent Stan’s” purchase of 60 acres of land at Hollywood Park has St. Louis hearing him loud and clear.

It seems the Los Angeles Rams 20-year road trip might be coming to an end.

Hope you’re still enjoying that “sweetheart lease,” St. Louis!

Remembering Merlin Olsen

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.

If you knew nothing about big number 74 before Thursday, you’ve, by now, probably read all about the NFL hall-of-famer and anchor of the Los Angeles RamsFearsome Foursome” defensive line of the 1960’s. Alongside Olsen was tackle Rosey Grier, who came from the New York Giants via trade for tackle Roger Brown, and defensive ends Lamar Lundy and David “Deacon” Jones, all four causing havoc and mayhem for all opponents.

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.

Olsen never played in a Super Bowl. He always was left one game short. Back then, the Rams could never get by the Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers or Baltimore Colts with the Super Bowl on the line. Didn’t matter. More often than not, the inability of the offense to score at crucial times in championship games was the Rams Achilles Heel.

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.

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