Friday, July 11, 2014

History of the St. Louis Rams

The Rams were initially granted a franchise for a group headed by Homer Marshman to play in Cleveland in 1937. Before the 1941 season, Daniel Reeves and Fred Levy Jr bought the team and eventually moved it to Los Angeles in 1946. Two years later, they became the first team with any kind of logo to be worn on their helmets. Reeves would own the team until his death in 1971. The following year, after Robert Irsay had bought the team from the Reeves estate, Baltimore Colts owner Carroll Rosenbloom completed a trade of the franchises with Irsay. After the unexpected death of Rosenbloom from a drowning accident in 1979, ownership was passed to his widow, now Georgia Frontiere, who moved the team to St. Louis in 1995. After she passed away in 2008, Chip Rosenbloom assumed ownership until 2010, when E. Stanley Kronke became the majority owner. Making the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum home in the early years allowed them to play in front of large, record-setting crowds until they moved into the smaller Anaheim Stadium in 1980. They now host their home games at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

On the field, they won their first NFL championship in 1945, the final year they were in Cleveland, by edging the Washington Redskins, 15-14. Then, before quarterback Norm Van Brocklin was with the Eagles, he helped the Rams capture the title in 1951. The 1960s saw the hiring of head coach George Allen and the assembling of what would be known as the ‘Fearsome Foursome’ defense. Success continued into the next decade, culminating with an NFC Championship in 1979 before the Rams fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl 14, 31-19. They would not reach the big game again until 1999 in the third season under head coach Dick Vermeil, when they stopped the Tennessee Titans, 23-16, in Super Bowl 34. They were led at quarterback that year by unknown Kurt Warner, who stepped in when Trent Green went down with a season-ending injury during the preseason. Ironically, Jeff Fisher, who was Tennessee’s head coach when they lost that Super Bowl, is now entering his third season as the head coach of the Rams.

Van Brocklin is joined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame by Merlin Olsen (defensive tackle), Eric Dickerson (running back), Tom Mack (guard), Jackie Slater (tackle), Jack Youngblood (defensive end), and Marshall Faulk (running back).

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

History of the Philadelphia Eagles

One day after Pittsburgh gained a franchise in 1933, the NFL granted the league rights for the Philadelphia area to a group led by Bert Bell and Lud Wray. These rights had been owned by the Frankfurt Yellow Jackets before they suspended operations during the 1931 season. A group of investors known as the “Happy Hundred” gained ownership in 1949 and held it until 1963, when Jerry Wolman purchased the franchise. It then passed to Leonard Tose in 1969, who then was forced to sell it in 1985 due to gambling debts. Jeffrey Lurie has been the owner since 1994. After playing at Connie Mack Stadium in the early years, they moved to Franklin Field in 1958, where they became the first NFL stadium to use artificial turf. They called Veterans Stadium home beginning in 1971 until Lincoln Financial Field opened in 2003.

On the field, the Eagles were dominant in the mid- to late-1940s, winning NFL championships in 1948 and 1949 with shutout victories over the Chicago Cardinals, 7-0, and the Los Angeles Rams, 14-0. Their most historic NFL championship came with Norm Van Brocklin as quarterback in 1960 when they beat the Green Bay Packers, 17-13. In more recent years, they captured the 1980 NFC championship under head coach Dick Vermeil and quarterback Ron Jaworski but were not able to overcome the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl 15, losing 27-10. It was not until 2004, with head coach Andy Reid and QB Donovan McNabb leading the way, that they returned to the ultimate game in Super Bowl 39, but were defeated again, this time by the New England Patriots, 24-21. Chip Kelly, formerly at the University of Oregon, took over the head coaching duties going into the 2013 season and led the Eagles to the playoffs.

Steve Van Buren (running back), who was part of the great Eagles teams of the 1940s, is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as is Van Brocklin, Chuck Bednarik (linebacker), and Reggie White (defensive end).

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

History of the Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh organization has been bonded together with the Rooney family since the team was founded by Art Rooney in 1933. The Steelers, initially named the Pirates until 1940, continue to be run by Art Rooney’s son, owner Dan Rooney, and his grandson, Art Rooney II, who is now the team president. After playing at Forbes Field and later Pitt Stadium in the early years, they built Three Rivers Stadium to call home in 1970 before eventually moving into Heinz Field in 2001.

On the field, the hiring of head coach Chuck Noll in 1969 was the start of what is one of the most extreme turnarounds in professional sports history. Winning was not a familiar experience for the franchise starting with the 23-2 loss in their inaugural game. By drafting 9 eventual Hall of Famers all between 1969 and 1974, the Steelers were able to trigger a dynasty in which they won Super Bowls 9, 10, 13, and 14. Noll’s successor Bill Cowher took over the reins in 1992 and continued the winning tradition but the next ring did not come until they knocked out the Seattle Seahawks, 21-10, in Super Bowl 40. After Mike Tomlin became the current head coach in 2007, the team continued to enjoy success with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger leading them a thrilling 27-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl 43.

Rod Woodson (defensive back) and Dermontti Dawson (center) join the 9 referred to above, Joe Greene (defensive tackle), Terry Bradshaw (quarterback), Mel Blount (cornerback), Jack Ham (linebacker), Franco Harris (running back), Lynn Swann (wide receiver), Jack Lambert (linebacker), John Stallworth (wide receiver), and Mike Webster (center), in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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