It's time for the return of the Los Angeles Rams. As a transient fan who has followed the team since its days in Anaheim Stadium, this is a hard line for me to take, especially when there are so many outstanding people in St. Louis.
I used to support the team remaining in Missouri, but my reasons were selfish. When the Rams left Los Angeles for St. Louis, I didn't have a problem with it because I, too, had moved out of California. Since I lived five hours away from the Edward Jones Dome, getting to a Rams' game was easier for me with the team in St. Louis. The team's move also made it easier for me to find games on TV and purchase merchandise.
Now, 17 years later, I've come to understand the historical links the Rams have to Los Angeles. As a child, I didn't appreciate the team's history in Southern California. I didn't understand what the team meant to so many fans there.
The truth is that the NFL should have expanded to St. Louis instead of allowing Georgia Frontiere to threaten her way into Missouri. The Gateway City is full of wonderful football fans, and it deserves to have a team. It just shouldn't be the Rams. It never should have been the Rams. They belong in Los Angeles, much like the Vikings belong in Minnesota. Some teams should never be moved.
Yes, I realize that the Rams originated in Cleveland. When the Browns were created and leased Municipal Stadium, Rams owner Dan Reeves was forced to move his team to Los Angeles. He knew that they couldn't have survived in Cleveland with such fierce competition from the Browns.
One of the conditions of the Rams' move to Los Angeles was that the team had to desegregate. The club agreed, and in 1946, the Rams signed Woody Strode and Kenny Washington. They became the first NFL franchise in the modern era to break the race barrier. That is the history that I'm talking about when I remember the Los Angeles Rams.
The team played in Southern California for nearly 50 years. The Rams were the first team to put an emblem on their helmets. They were the team that had the original "Fearsome Foursome" dominating offensive lines across the league. Eric Dickerson broke the NFL's single-season rushing record wearing the Rams' signature royal blue.
Again, I know that fans in St. Louis can point at the Rams' 1999 Super Bowl title and claim the team has history there as well. However, 17 years of history doesn't stand up to the nearly five decades of Rams football played in Southern California. It's taken me some time to come full-circle on this situation, but I believe that the Rams belong in Los Angeles.
I mean this as no disrespect to the citizens of St. Louis. At the core, we're all Rams fans. I don't know what's going to happen with the stadium situations in both St. Louis and Los Angeles. If the team remains in the Gateway City, I'll stand by them just like I have since childhood. However, I do hope that owner Stan Kroenke takes the franchise back to Southern California. The Los Angeles Rams have been gone for far too long.
Derek Ciapala has been a Rams fan since he was a child and the team was in Los Angeles. His favorite Rams moments include Flipper Anderson's 336-yard receiving night against the Saints in 1989, and their miracle 1999 run to their first Super Bowl victory. You can follow him on Twitter @dciapala.
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