It’s been 13 years, since Feb. 3, 2002, that a St. Louis Rams’ player has been vying for a chance to lift the Lombardi trophy and celebrate as a Super Bowl victor. Sadly [I’ll never forgive you Adam Vinatieri], that’s not how it panned out in Super Bowl XXXVI, as the New England Patriots slipped past the Rams [20-17] with a field goal as time expired.
Since then, the Patriots have been to four Super Bowls, and have won two. Tonight, when they take the field against the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, marks their fifth trip in 13 seasons. And they’ll be taking a few former Rams with them...
Amendola, selected as an UDFA by the Dallas Cowboys in 2008, spent the vast majority of his 7-season career in a Rams’ uniform [2009-2012]. One of the few Rams’ receivers who could hold onto the football, Amendola was a fan-favorite during his tenure in St. Louis.
In his four seasons with the team, Amendola tallied 1,726 receiving yards and 7 TD’s. He played a key role on special teams, returning both kicks and punts. In 2010, he lead the entire NFL in all-purpose yards with 2,364.
Sam Bradford’s "security blanket" struggled to stay healthy though. Of the four seasons played, in only one did he play the full 16-game slate. In total, he played 42 games for the Rams.
On Oct. 6, 2012, in a Thursday Night Football game against the previously undefeated Arizona Cardinals, he suffered a broken clavicle, which could’ve potentially been life-threatening. But Amendola was always known for his toughness. An injury that most thought would sideline him for 6-8 weeks was only able to slow him down for four, and he returned to take on the 49ers a month later; a game that ended in a tie [thanks Brandon Gibson!].
The following offseason, in 2013, just hours after the Patriots released Wes Welker, they reported that they’d signed Amendola to a five year, $28.5mil deal. Amendola didn’t step in and become the next Welker as many might’ve expected, but he’s still a regular part of their offense, and the team’s primary kick returner.
Taken by the Rams with the 132nd pick [5th round] of the 2010 NFL draft, "Illinois Mike" also struggled to stay on the field. In 16 games, over the 2010 and 2011 seasons, he hauled in 20 catches for 229 yards and three scores.
Interestingly enough, the first game in which Hoomanawanui showed flashes of what he was capable of came against the Patriots in a preseason game in 2010. In that game, he hauled in 4 catches for 53 yards and two scores.
Following the 2011 season, the Rams’ fired head coach Steve Spagnuolo, and informed offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels that his services were no longer needed either. McDaniels went to New England, and Illinois Mike was soon to follow.
Sticking with the Patriots might’ve seemed a long shot Hoomanawanui, as he was joining a roster loaded with talent in 2012. Rob Gronkoswki and Aaron Hernandez had just been signed to extensions, and the Patriots had also signed Daniel Fells and Visanthe Shiancoe in free agency. The Pats were forced to place Shiancoe on IR in early September, and the rest was history.
And while Hoomanawanui clearly isn’t taking any of the spotlight from Rob Gronkowski, he plays a vital role as blocker for the Patriots' offense, and was on the field for 41.8% of their offensive snaps in 2014.
Drafted 214th overall [6th round] in the 2014 NFL draft, Gilbert was placed on the Rams' practice squad on September 1st, before ultimately being cut on October 30th.
He was signed to the Patriots practice squad on Dec. 17th...47 days ago. Tonight, he may become a Super Bowl champion.
He wins. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
...the Seahawks don’t currently employ any former Rams. It doesn’t seem to be hindering their chances to play in as many games as possible.