It still seems like such a significant period in my life, but it really was just so short.
Five seasons. Five seasons between the moment, at an exhibition victory over Dallas at the Coliseum in August 1975, when I fell suddenly and deeply in love with the Rams (and sports in general), and their departure from the Coliseum for Anaheim following the 1979-80 campaign. Five seasons that I was a Los Angeles Rams fan hard and true.
I still have the Lawrence McCutcheon T-shirt to prove it.
Almost immediately after moving from Chicago to Los Angeles in 1950, my dad's family had obtained season tickets to the Rams. He held them through '80, giving the long Woodland Hills-to-Anaheim commute a short try before deciding enough was enough. We got season tickets to the Dodgers the next year.
The Rams were serious Super Bowl contenders every one of those five years – something that not even the True Blue Dodgers of that era could say – and every one of those five years ended in disappointment. Bitter and bitterly cold in Minnesota. Rain-slogged against the Vikings in Los Angeles. Twin 37-7 and 28-0 pastings by the Cowboys, each in front of the Coliseum crowd. And of course, the so-close-and-yet-so-far lone Super Bowl appearance, with perhaps the weakest Rams team of them all taking a lead into the fourth quarter against might Pittsburgh, Jack Youngblood making Kirk Gibson look like small potatoes, only to let it slip away.
With their move to Anaheim, the Rams took my passion with them. I had dalliances with the Los Angeles Raiders and with the Bill Walsh-infused 49ers, dalliances that spackled the void but never meant nearly as much. The St. Louis Rams weren't even an eyebrow-raiser. And so I realize now that Friday marked 32 years since I last really cared about who won an NFL championship.
The Rams gave birth to me becoming a sports fan, but like an absentee father, they long since left me to fend for myself.
Say what you will about the Dodgers' downs and further-downs since 1988, but the passion (as much as I would almost want it to) has never fled. In some ways, it's kind of a miracle.