Wednesday, March 09, 2016
NFL Football Returns To Los Angeles
With the start of today's NFL free agency market there was a sighting of nostalgic proportions. An NFL team has Los Angeles preceding it's name across the wires. Not since 1995 has there been a professional football team calling the City of Angels its home. And not since Christmas Eve 1994 has there been an NFL game played there, "The Day the NFL Died in L.A.." The cherry on top is the team now calling it home has a long, rich history with Los Angeles.
The St. Louis Rams are no longer. Beginning this season the Rams belong to Los Angeles once again and will be playing their games in the city they called home from 1946-1994. The franchise was originally founded in Cleveland in 1936 and who knew that they were named after the Bronx, N.Y., Fordham Rams.
I grew up in New York and remember watching the coach Chuck Knox led L.A. Rams go up against the Jets, Giants and Bills. They were a good team with some very good, unforgettable players like Jack Youngblood, Merlin Olsen and Jackie Slater to name a few. The L.A. Rams had one particular running back who I remember as always doing damage. I hardly ever hear his name brought up these days, but back in those ground control frozen tundra days he was the Rams winning edge over most opponents.
He wore #30 and his name was Lawrence McCutcheon.
From 1972-1979 he ran fast and hard in helping the Rams win the NFC West division title seven straight years. The San Francisco 49ers were abysmal during much of that era and the Rams owned the division while Atlanta and New Orleans struggled as most expansion teams do for years.
I don't know all McCutcheon's stats, but he rushed well over 1,000 yards for five straight seasons, all of which he made the Pro Bowl. He wasn't big but had a way of making tacklers miss and punishing them if they took a wrong angle on him.
McCutcheon was also a threat as a receiver and punt returner. He played with some memorable Rams quarterbacks: Jack Hadl, Pat Haden, Joe Namath and James Harris, the first black player to start a professional football game at quarterback.
The 1970's had some great, bruising running backs who could run with power and finesse. McCutcheon was a product of that style of play and could be mentioned right up there with the best of those times.
Earl Campbell, Franco Harris, Marv Hubbard, Walter Payton, O.J. Simpson just to name a few. You'll find his name on most "best of" 1970's running backs lists. I found one list on a site named Shareranks.com, that lists McCutcheon at #5 out of twenty.
It's no surprise that the Raiders, "team of the decades," have two running backs listed; the late great Marv Hubbard and the great Mark van Eeghen. Raiders RB/KR Clarence Davis, given more carries at running back and barring knee injuries, could've easily made the list. Davis is a Raider Legend!
Lawrence McCutcheon joined the Rams front office after retirement and has been a part of the Rams family for 38 years. He'll be returning to Los Angeles with the team to begin a new chapter in the long, rich history of the Rams franchise.
Note: RIP Mack Herron, the littlest big man in 1970's running backs
(July 24, 1948 - December 6, 2015)