My fellow TST staff refer to me as “The Professor” primarily due to my age and historical knowledge of the Los Angeles Rams football team from the dark ages of Cleveland to Los Angeles to St. Louis and then back gain to L.A.
I like the professorial moniker. it suits me well.
As a diehard Rams fan for decades, it was important me in my youth to learn the history of the Rams, the NFL, the players, coaches and moments which make professional football the most popular sport in America. Football is more then just a game to diehards like me—Rams football its a way of life. with its ups and downs, battles, rivalries and moments which validate my fanaticism.
In my house, everything revolves around Rams football. While the offseason once offered a brief hibernation, the new NFL has given birth to a 365-day, yearlong obsession now because of free agency, the draft, OTAs and everything that develops in anticipation of the coming season and the excitement around the Super Bowl season you dream about.
Naturally, much to my wife’s chagrin and angst, most of my bad habits have rubbed off on my son. He’s become a superfan since the Rams returned to Los Angeles. He won’t miss a game, no matter what. He screams at the TV, pouts when the Rams lose and jumps for joy every time the Rams make a great play, score a touchdown, create a turnover and of course the biggest celebration we have, when they WIN!
The mottos in our house are “Winning isn’t everything, its the only thing.” and “Just win, baby.” It’s how we approach every game, whether its a preseason game, regular season or playoffs.
Now being as old as I am—closer to 60 then I am to 55, I’ve seen a lot of football. You’ll have to trust me on this. When you remember seeing players like Jim Brown running up and down the field or Gale Sayers playing against the Rams, you’re pretty old.
While I take pride in telling my wife that I’ve mellowed over the years, she wonders what that means I was like, in my youth.
Well now, it’s time for a new generation to begin to take the mantle.
I’m not into rap. I don’t care about swagger and have no idea how analytics work.
The only thing that matters to me is whether the Rams win on Sundays.
Thus I don’t care about the lack of experience if the Rams have a young team, what the player looked like in college or what a free agent did on some other team before coming to the Rams.
To me Facebook, Twitter and Instragram (Editor’s note: I’m leaving this typo in because the idea of the Prof calling it “Instragram” is beyond hilarious) are apps which are designed as a way to socialize with others who share something in common with you but without having to go through the trouble of ever learning how to actually interact face-to-face in one-on-one real interaction. On the other hand, the new school fans are all over the place with the social media. The Rams have their own apps, Facebook, Twitter and Instragram (Editor’s note: I’m dying) accounts and instantly communicate to the Rams Nation the important news of the day offering the fans an opportunity to feel more connected to the team. In today’s techno world when the Rams do anything you don’t like, the new school Rams fan posts or tweets his own opinion.
An old school guy does something different: writing a letter. You know, the thing you pay 43 cents to mail.
With letters, you actually have to think about what you say before you say it rather then ranting and raving in a social media app caught among the thousands of others doing the same thing.
How Being A Rams Fan Has Changed
Today, there are mock drafts, search engines and books providing both new school and old school football fans an enormous wealth and amount of information. It’s too much and there’s no way a Rams fan can get up with all this—that’s why sites like TST are so important which gather instantly every scrap and every rumor hovering over our beloved Rams.
The only thing criteria I use for free agency, trades or the draft isn’t any books or search engines. I judge an acquisition by the Rams on the basis on whether it will make the team better in my opinion. If so, its worth the price. If not, it stinks.
As a father, you wind up enabling and encouraging the new generation of Rams fans to buy the draft books, read the mock drafts, check out Youtube videos on players, gather the analytics and check out TST regularly in order to keep focused on the most important thing in our lives—the Rams.
Of course, this could cost you a pretty a penny. As most parents of college students know, you’re the one footing the bill. So I did the fatherly thing and gave my son the money so he could become his own Rams General Manager. Now he can post and communicate with other diehards during the off season while keeping his interest in the Rams up until the real season starts.
Of course, he also interrupts me while I’m watching basketball, hockey or baseball, and this year the Winter Olympics on his latest discovery of valuable information, rumors or innuendo. Invariably, my reponse: “If it makes the Rams better, I’m for it. Was it posted on TST? Now let me go back to watching the game.”
As the draft approaches, my son is now an expert Rams scout. He knows what the Rams need, the college systems prospects are coming from, and the prospects themselves. He is gleeful with anticipation to see how his homework will play out in the actual draft and ready for all the surprises.
While I have encouraged this through my monetary efforts, I keep reminding the new school guy a lot can happen between now and the draft and that the draft is really a crap shoot. You never really know what your going to get until they play in the NFL.
My old school “wait and see” approach to the draft is primarily based on having gone through so many of them and experiencing the Rams busts like RB Cleveland Gary, RB Lawrence Phillips and RT/LT Greg Robinson.
My son never experienced CB Tye Hill.
How It All Comes Together
Having spent a bundle on draft books, when I learned from TST that the Rams had traded for WR Brandin Cooks I went ballistic. Not that I wasn’t happy with the trade, but all that money I spent on these draft books for my son was a waste!
Now that the Rams don’t have a pick until the third round, there’s no way an old school guy like me is going to sit and watch with his son. Three hours of empty draft television coverage not involving the Rams? No thanks.
But it’s not just the draft that’s killing me.
Les Snead, the Rams general manager, has made trade and moves in free agency that are have raised the expectations bar to the highest heights, especially on defense. CB Aqib Talib, CB Marcus Peters, DT Ndamukong Suh, tagging S Lamarcus Joyner, losing CB Trumaine Johnson in the process and trading away OLB/DE Robert Quinn and MLB Alec Ogletree...My old school approach to this crazy and zany off season is that as long as these moves make our Rams better, it’s worth it.
The new school approach is to hype the stats and the analytics. The new school pounds my dinner table with statements “There’s no way the Rams don’t make the Super Bowl with this team!”
Having a healthy relationship with your son is important, but I’m also known to speak my mind, so in a professorial tone I remind the new school kid of the following. “With the way you talk, the Rams defense shouldn’t give up a yard or a touchdown the whole year. The Rams are destined to break the NFL record for sacks and turnover acquisitions, and the Rams offense, well they’ll score a 100 points per game. At least that’s what your research stats and analytics on paper says!” I end my remarks by stating that the only paper I truly wanted to see this offseason was the signature page of Aaron Donald on a long-term extension contract with the Rams.
I know as an old-school diehard that if the Rams’ 2018 season doesn’t culminate in a Super Bowl victory, that the information my son presented as precise factual evidence predicting the future wasn’t worth paper its printed on.
How I Really Feel
I’m going to miss watching the draft, but who knows what Les Snead will do given his track record over the last three months—maybe another trade?
But to say I’m not excited about this upcoming season is an understatement. I share the enthusiasm the team has generated with my son, the new school guys and among my fellow old school Ram diehards. With the moves made, the Rams are better on defense then they were last year going into the 2017 season. The Rams still need to figure out the linebacker situation, but my confidence in Wade Phillips is unwavering.
Taking into consideration all of this, who wouldn’t be smiling from ear to ear going into training camp.
My only regret is I wish the Les would’ve given me a heads up on his plans. He cost me a lot of money for worthless draft books I bought for the new school kid. Nor, does it make my wife very happy that when chores around the house need to be done, the new school die hard is too busy dissecting player profile, made even worse because its me winding up having to do his stuff instead.
But it will all be worth it in the end, if the Rams do win the Super Bowl.
Thinking about football season being just around the corner, the Rams diehards are ready, old school or new school. We’re ready for the bandwagon. Jump on board.
This is going to be a fun team to watch. Old school and new school alike.