A blind squirrel finds a nut; a broken clock is right twice a day; and the St. Louis Rams won a Super Bowl. Some things happen inexplicably and vanish understandably.
Now quick: name the St. Louis Rams’ head coach. You can be reasonably sure it isn’t Dick Vermeil and nearly as sure it isn’t “Mad” Mike Martz. But this is where it gets somewhat sticky. What poor sap, chasing his dream of coaching greatness, set his career back with a stint in St. Louis?
Rod Marinelli, yes, suffered a setback equivalent to a Wall Street banker drunk off easy money and ever-rising real estate prices. But it wasn’t him. Nor was it Mike Nolan. Romeo Crennel? Wrong again.
The man for whom we should feel sympathy is Scott Linehan. Remember him, the former (and current) impressive and up and coming offensive coordinator, who led the team to an 8-8 record his first season.
Well, from that point, the Rams were 3-17 and Linehan was fired four games into the 2008 season (his services are currently being utilized as the offensive coordinator of the Lions under first-year head coach and former defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz).
And now Steve Spagnuolo—another first-year head coach and former Giants’ defensive coordinator—has been cast as Lee Iacocca.
But the Rams’ story is not about redemption or hope brought about by a new coach or Chris Long’s development or Jason Smith’s transition to the NFL. It is (sadly) a much more pessimistic one.
This is what the team formerly known as “The Greatest Show on Turf” has returned to, its rightful place: Siberia in the minds of NFL fans outside of the St. Louis metro area.
Now, this isn’t totally fair to the franchise, or maybe fair at all for that matter. The franchise had multiple playoff appearances in the 1970s and 1980s (including Jack Youngblood’s one-legged performance in Superbowl XIV).
But, with all its history and the success of the Vermeil/Martz era, the Rams have always felt like a bit of an interloper.
With reflection, Rams fans probably look at those years from 1999 to 2001 as a dream—because they were.
With Kurt Warner still forgetting that he’s Kurt Warner in Arizona, Marshall Faulk doing whatever it is he does on the NFL Network, Dick Vermeil retired, Torry Holt in Jacksonville, Isaac Bruce in San Francisco, and Mike Martz having failed to get J.T. O’Sullivan and Shaun Hill to forget that they’re J.T. O’Sullivan and Shaun Hill that chapter is officially closed.
But this is a new year and, as it is said, everyone is undefeated right now. St. Louis, “the pride is back.”