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Let's Ram It! An oral history of 1985 Los Angeles Rams' rap song

This offseason, Shutdown Corner will travel down memory lane with a series of stories presenting some interesting and sometimes forgotten stories from the NFL's past. Join us as we relive some of the greatest and craziest moments in the sport's history.

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The 1980s were a different time. And while people were teasing their big hair with an aerosol can of hairspray and cutting holes in the knees of their acid-washed jeans, football teams started making rap videos.

The Los Angeles Rams made one during the 1985 season that, thankfully for them, hardly anyone saw. “Let’s Ram It!” didn’t have the pop of “The Super Bowl Shuffle.” .

But then the Internet came along. And so did YouTube. And all of a sudden the video had a second life, like it was buried in a time capsule that got dug up when the Rams moved back to Los Angeles this offseason:

How? What? Why? Some of the players who participated in “Let’s Ram It!” answered these important questions:

Cornerback LeRoy Irvin (No. 47): The Bears had their video. So a guy came to us and said, would you guys want to do it?

Guard Dennis Harrah (No. 60): The Chicago Bears had their video. All of a sudden a guy approached us.

Tight end David Hill (No. 81): The only reason why we did it was that the Bears had done it and it was a day off. To be honest it was a bad decision because it took all day and wasted our day off.

Harrah: Coach [John] Robinson knew and said to go ahead and do it, as long as it didn’t distract us and it was done in the right way and we didn’t make fools of ourselves. We should have listened to him a little more. There were a lot of fools out there.

Nobody can recall exactly when the video was filmed, whether it was late in the 1985 regular season or during the playoffs. But the one thing everyone remembers is that the shoot lasted past midnight, on the players’ day off. And you can see in the video that some scenes are in daylight and others are at night.

Irvin: It was an all-night thing. It was probably one of the worst nights of my life.

Hill: We showed up in the morning, and it was going so long they gave us a lunch break. When we came back, we were freezing in the stands. It cooled off a lot.

Irvin: I remember it was freezing.

Harrah: It was our day off. So we had a few beverages. It was a long day. By the end of the day I needed a ride home. In more ways than one. All I got out of it was a wasted day off and a hangover.

Hill: It’s funny when I think about the story behind it, but it was a long day.

Receiver Ron Brown (No. 89): We had to do a few takes. They didn't know what direction they were going to go in.

Irvin: Dennis Harrah was out there playing practical jokes on everybody.

Harrah: I’m just telling you, we were half in the bag on that whole deal. It was our day off, we were drinking beers. I was messing with anyone that was around me.

Brown: It was a long day, but we all had fun.

One thing that stands out in the video, which everyone is quick to point out with a laugh, is safety Nolan Cromwell. He's wearing No. 21 if you've seen the video, you already know him well.

Safety Johnnie Johnson (No. 20): Nolan is a country boy from Kansas. He was one of the more popular guys on the team, was thought of as one of the more handsome guys. But when you look at him on the video, you have to laugh about it.

Harrah: Nolan Cromwell got the award for the worst white dancer in the history of the NFL. None of us had rhythm, but he was unbelievable.

Irvin: It was hilarious seeing Nolan Cromwell on there. Can’t dance a lick.

Defensive back Vince Newsome (current Baltimore Ravens director of pro personnel who, lucky for him, wasn’t included in the video): Nolan Cromwell. [laughing] That was just bad.

Hill: We had a lot of retakes because of Nolan. We tried to put him in the back after a while. When they said ‘Cut!’ after a while we knew why. When they said ‘Cut!’ we’d just say ‘Come on Nolan!’ I think after a while they just tried to get it as close as they could with him.

Harrah: You look at everyone going to the right and he’s going to the left. And you say, ‘Oh my goodness.’ He was a ‘10’ as far as an athlete and a ‘1’ as far as a dancer.

Offensive tackle Jackie Slater (No. 78, KTLA interview): We found out who could dance and who couldn’t. … I can. And Nolan Cromwell can not.

Irvin: I saw Nolan in Seattle not long ago. That’s the first thing I mentioned, the video.

Cromwell, (No. 21, KTLA interview): I’d never danced before. The things you do when you’re young, they always come back and haunt you.

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There was also the wondrous clip of Slater, the great Rams tackle for many years, playing his heart out on the saxophone. It’s even funnier to watch now after his teammates confirm that, no, Slater could not play the saxophone. At all.

Irvin: He faked like he could!

Hill: Jackie was a good actor there.

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(YouTube.com screen shot)
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Another thing that stands out about the video is that the lyrics of the song “Let’s Ram It!” are, yeah, they’re a little dirty. Like Harrah’s verse “I learned long ago that if you ram it just right, you can ram it all day and ram it all night!” …. right.

Hill: We didn’t have anything to do with the lyrics. We just said what they told us to say.

Harrah, on whether he realizes now the lyrics had a double meaning: 100 percent. I was … [pauses to laugh] I was that person. That’s all I can tell you. I wish I had grown up to be like Billy Graham, but I wasn’t.

Hill: It was just that time. There was nobody being sensitive about these things. You listen now and you say, yeah, it’s a little racy.

Brown: We thought it was just a silly punch line. "Ram It?" What the hell is "Ram It?"

Snicker if you want at the video today, but back in the 1985 season the Rams thought they did all right.

Brown: I wanted to get Dr. Dre to put the video together for us. He was a buddy of mine, but they had someone lined up. If we wanted it to be a better video we should have had Dre do it.

Harrah: We were like … I don’t know, plenty of athletes will do something out of the box and think we’re a star, and it’s absolutely ridiculous.

Irvin: When you’re in your 20s, you have that excitement to do something like that.

Harrah: We thought it was going to be a hit. We thought we were hot. We didn’t realize how bad we were.

Newsome: Well, hey, back then you wanted to be in stuff like that. They were coming around — all these entertainment offers — they were all around you all the time. Initially you wanted to be in it. But then once it came out, you were like, ‘Ohhh.’

Irvin: I hate watching it. And I really hate watching it because we never made a penny off it.

Harrah: That’s the ego. We thought we’d make some money off this and I thought I’d be the next Kirk Douglas. It was just being a dumb-ass jock.

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So the video wasn’t a hit in the late '80s. And for the next couple decades, the only thing the players had to worry about was their kids using the videotapes to embarrass them.

Hill: One of my older kids, they would take (the videotape) and show it to all their friends. So I confiscated them all, tried to hide them.

Irvin: They gave us copies of the video. It stayed in the closet for years. I thought it was forgotten, buried, old news.

Brown: We thought that this was gone, destroyed.

Then it reappeared on YouTube.

Irvin: We never thought it would follow us this long. There was no Internet. We thought nobody would see it again. Lo and behold ...

Johnson: We look back on it, and you say, "Oh lord, we did something like that?"

Harrah: I had every [expletive] in the world send me that video like I hadn’t seen it before.

Johnson: You say, "I hope the kids don't see it." But with the Internet you know they will. They just cracked up. They were like, "Really dad?" They had an entirely different picture of me after that.

Hill: I was out with my golfing buddies, and I look up and they’re showing the starter the video on their phones. Uuuuugh!

Irvin: I was coaching Pop Warner, 8-year-old kids, and a parent found it and played it at the banquet. It was so embarrassing.

Harrah: I haven’t had one compliment in 30 years over that piece of [expletive] video. What does that tell you about how good it was? I haven’t even had someone lie to me and tell me it was good.

Irvin: Another time, at a pep rally for a high school I was coaching at, they played it. They’ve got me in all kinds of ways.

Brown: My kids have seen it. They make fun of me.

Cromwell: We had fun doing it, but it haunts you when you get older.

The players hear about the video regularly, especially when it comes to their kids watching their dad from 30 years ago dancing and rapping.

Hill: Everyone is like, ‘I want you to do the dance!’ Yeah, right.

Newsome: I go to Eric Dickerson’s golf tournament most year, it’s out at Camp Pendleton. We talk about that all the time. I always give him a hard time about that. He and LeRoy Irvin and those guys … it’s too funny.

Irvin: Eric cringes whenever it gets brought up.

Harrah: We give each other a hard time. We make fun of each other.

Hill: We thought we outlived it. I was thankful when it went away. Then your friends would find it. Then everyone says, ‘You’re on the video!’ And all you can say is, ‘Oh my goodness, not again.’

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And then when the Rams announced they were moving back to Los Angeles, a new audience watched the video as it got passed around again. And while the old Rams speak of the video like it's the worst thing that happened, they are in on the joke. They all have a great sense of humor about it, talking about how horrible the video is but laughing as they say it.

Hill: It started all over again a few months ago. Everyone wants to see you do the dance and sing it and you can’t go out without one of your friends wanting to show everybody.

Harrah: You have to have a sense of humor after 30 years of abuse.

Hill: It probably plays more now than it ever did back then.

Brown: We had fun making it. We were laughing the whole time.

Johnson: Obviously it was a different era for all of us. It was a different time in our lives, but it was done by a group of teammates, and when teammates come together for a common thing, that's great.

Harrah: That son of a bitch won’t die, that’s for sure. It’s not exactly a claim to fame for us.

Hill: We don’t have a choice. We have to laugh about it. What else are you going to do?

Irvin: I want the new Rams to do a new one so people forget ours.

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Previous Shutdown Corner NFL throwback stories: Joe Montana's underrated toughness | Barry Sanders' long-forgotten final game | Jake Delhomme's playoff nightmare | Barry Switzer, outspoken as ever | Was Sebastian Janikowski worth a first-round pick?How Jim Harbaugh punching Jim Kelly helped Colts land Peyton Manning | Jay Cutler makes the greatest throw ever | "Has anyone ever kissed your Super Bowl rings?" | How the Patriots once faced a fourth-and-63 | The Packers survived a miserable two-decade run | "NFL PrimeTime" changed how we watch football | One of pro football's greatest games happened in the crazy USFL | The time Warren Moon should have had 650 yards in an NFL game | In 1979, Lyle Alzado boxed against Muhammad Ali. Seriously | Meet the NFL team that lost its only game before folding | In 1969 the NFL demanded Joe Namath sell his bar, so he retired

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!