LA Rams greats line up to cheer their team on the West Coast
OXNARD, Calif. (AP) The Rams’ defensive line gathered around Rosey Grier on the practice field on a gorgeous California day. Robert Quinn, Aaron Donald and Chris Long listened intently to the last surviving member of the Fearsome Foursome as he made a few points about teamwork and togetherness.
”Don’t forget to take care of each other, but also have fun!” the 83-year-old Grier said.
The Rams’ West Coast trip was a fine opportunity for stars from their Los Angeles past to check out the current team while it ponders the future of the franchise. With roaring fans providing a welcome soundtrack, Grier was joined by Eric Dickerson, Wendell Tyler, Jim Everett and others who became stars in royal blue and California gold during the Rams’ 49 seasons in Southern California.
”It’s so good to see them out there,” Grier said. ”I’d love to have the Rams back, absolutely.”
The Rams’ two days of practices against the Dallas Cowboys ended with an ugly brawl Tuesday, but it couldn’t diminish the affection from thousands of local fans hoping owner Stan Kroenke is able to return his team to Los Angeles next year. Tuesday’s crowd was a bit smaller than the gathering for Monday’s opener, but the fans still turned out with flags, signs and raucous chants of ”L.A. Rams!”
”They would be great here,” said Dickerson, who set the NFL record with 2,105 yards rushing for the Rams in 1984. ”They’re great in St. Louis. They’re still in St. Louis, but we’ll support them wherever they are. It’s just good to see football back in L.A., even if it’s for a short time.”
Although Oxnard is an hour west of Los Angeles, the Rams’ two-day return to visit the Cowboys’ regular training camp home became an event for thousands of locals with a sentimental tie to the franchise. Former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda and actor Jamie Foxx even turned up Tuesday, although they both appeared more interested in the Cowboys.
Grier’s appearance in camp was fortuitous. He became a Hollywood actor after playing with Merlin Olsen, Deacon Jones and Lamar Lundy on the Fearsome Foursome defensive line in the 1960s, and if the Rams return to Los Angeles, Grier’s latter-day descendants on the Rams’ outstanding defensive line could become bigger stars as well.
Quinn and Donald are on their way to becoming two of the NFL’s best players at any position, while the Santa Monica-born Long might have the personality to follow in the footsteps of his father, Howie, a television commentator and occasional actor after his career with the Los Angeles Raiders.
”We’re appreciative of our fans, no matter where they are,” Long said. ”Obviously, they did a great job of coming to support us. We have great fans in St. Louis, too. We’re not here to choose sides. We’re here to play football.”
The Rams scrapped their plans for a solo practice Wednesday before their flight back to Missouri, instead choosing to visit the Naval Air Station at nearby Point Mugu.
The Rams hope the incessant discussions of their future will settle down when they return to St. Louis, but plenty could happen even before the pivotal owners’ meetings in October, when St. Louis and San Diego are expected to make stadium pitches to the league.
The NFL has discussed moving forward the deadline for relocation applications, conceivably allowing any of the three teams to apply during the current season. It all adds up to several months of uncertainty for St. Louis, Los Angeles and the players caught in the middle.
At least they got a quick trip to California before getting back to the grind.
”We got some really good work, and it was very competitive,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. ”I’d love to come back and practice against the Cowboys again.”
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