In recent history, the Rams drafted Aaron Donald with the 13th overall pick in the draft but as you all know, he wasn’t the team’s first pick that year. That distinction belonged to Greg Robinson and now they’ll forever be linked, including when Donald is inducted into the Hall of Fame one day and Robinson is only remembered as “What could have been the greatest first round in Rams history.”
But imagine if instead of Robinson, the Rams had instead selected Khalil Mack. We could be talking about two Hall of Famers in the same round, by the same team, in the same year.
Well, that’s very close to what we saw in 1971 when the Rams chose Isiah Robertson with the 10th overall pick and Jack Youngblood with the 20th, pairing them together for the better part of a decade and building one of the greatest defenses in history under Chuck Knox. Robertson, a linebacker out of Southern (I love when I get to go far back enough in time that players aren’t just coming out of schools, they’re coming out of whole regions), had been hailed as the most aggressive linebacker in the nation and was compared to Dick Butkus.
To make the deal, the Rams traded six players to Washington, including linebacker Jack Pardee and defensive tackle Diron Talbert, and in 1973, the team-that-had-a-name-back-then made it to the Super Bowl. It was one of those trades that NFL fans simply can’t compute anymore because of the salary cap and considerations for age and injury. But in hindsight, the deal worked out okay for both teams.
Robertson made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, recording four interceptions in the 14-game season. He didn’t repeat his Pro Bowl honor in 1972, but Robertson did make it in every campaign between 1973 and 1977, plus was twice named to the all-pro team. Robertson was benched in 1978, then traded to the Bills in 1979, where he played four more seasons prior to retirement.
He is not in the Hall of Fame, but he has the type of resume that gets him quite close, and that’s how LA nearly drafted two Canton legends within 10 picks of each other.
Selected out of the University of Florida, where he’s been called one of the top-five players in program history, Youngblood backed up future Hall of Famer Deacon Jones in 1971, and his presence allowed the team to trade Jones to the San Diego Chargers in 1972. Youngblood didn’t make a dramatic impact in year two, but then he made the Pro Bowl in every season from 1973 to 1979, as well as five first team all-pro honors. There are no official sack numbers from the NFL back then, but his total has been said to be in the 15+ per year category.
When sacks did become official, Youngblood was credited with 10.5 in 1983 and 9.5 in 1984, his final two seasons. Not bad for a guy approaching his mid-thirties.
Youngblood retired after the ‘84 season and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001, meaning he got to celebrate his success in the seventies by watching his team make the Super Bowl for the second time in three years.
And now you can apparently own a piece of Rams history ... by owning Jack Youngblood’s Hall of Fame induction ring.
In searching for the most expensive Rams-related item on Ebay this morning, I came across Youngblood’s “2001 NFL FOOTBALL HOF CHAMPION CHAMPIONSHIP RING JACK YOUNGBLOOD LA RAMS BALFOUR”. Now, interpret that was you will, but there’s no doubt about what the item is: Jack Youngblood’s Hall of Fame ring (I didn’t even know you got a ring for the Hall of Fame, but sports sure do like accessories.)
The cost: $25,000.
Here’s the description from the seller, which indicates that the ring is authentic and that Youngblood himself will call you on the phone to congratulate you if you make the purchase:
2001 NFL HALL OF FAME JACK YOUNGBLOOD CHAMPIONSHIP RING !
ONLY PLAYER IN THE HISTORY OF THE NFL FOOTBALL TO PLAY IN CONSECUTIVE GAMES
FINAL GAME OF SEASON - FOLLOWING PLAYOFF GAME - THEN SUPER BOWL WITH A BROKEN LEG
14K GOLD !
MADE BY JOSTENS !
COMES WITH FULL LETTER FROM JACK YOUNGBLOOD !
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HAVE JACK YOUNGBLOOD CALL TO CONGRATULATE YOU
ON THE RING PURCHASE WE CAN ARRANGE THAT TOO !
ONE OF THE BEST DEFENSIVE ENDS OF ALL TIME !
I looked up some other Ebay items listed as “HOF RING” and found that Youngblood’s was the fourth-most expensive after: Hall of Fame NBA player Bill Sharman ($95,000), Packers safety Willie Wood ($59,000), and former NBA player and coach Lenny Wilkens ($50,000). Of course, this is Ebay, so prices are negotiable.
The second-most expensive Rams item was a signed football (used in the ‘99 Super Bowl) from Isaac Bruce listed at $7,000, followed by a vintage Eric Dickerson jersey listed at $2,549.99.