With their long and storied history in the NFL, the Los Angeles Rams have made it a point to honor standout players by retiring their jersey number when said player calls it a career. The Rams have retired eight players spanning the Cleveland/Los Angeles/Anaheim/St. Louis eras.
There are no hard and fast criteria for retiring jerseys and each team sets its own standards. On the high end, the Chicago Bears have retired 14, New York Giants closed 13 and the San Francisco 49ers mothballed 12. At the other extreme, five teams, the Dallas Cowboys, Las Vegas Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans, and Baltimore Ravens do not honor past players by retiring their jersey. The Buffalo Bills also did not, but have reversed their stand with a recent ownership change.
Let’s get something out in the air. Honoring players is just as much about marketing as it is patting a long-time employee on the back. The Arizona Cardinals recently “un-retired” #99 for J.J. Watt, The Denver Broncos let Peyton Manning wear retired #18, when Jerry Rice joined the Seattle Seahawks he wore retired #80 and there are many other examples. With as much money at stake as there is in the NFL, honoring past commitments can be a murky undertaking.
What are the Rams retired numbers and who wore them?
#7) Quarterback Bob Waterfield- Starred at quarterback, placekicker, and punter between eight years in Cleveland and Los Angeles. Five-time All-Pro, two-time Pro Bowler, and NFL All-Decade Team (1940’s). Married 1950’s pinup queen, Jane Russell.
#28) Running back Marshall Faulk- Tremendous all-around player. Over seven season’s with the Rams, he averaged just under 2000 total yards each year. He was the NFL Offensive Player of the Year for three straight years and named both All-Pro and Pro Bowl three straight years as well.
#29) Running back Eric Dickerson- Only spent five+ years in L.A., but produced 125 yards per game. Four-time All-Pro and Pro Bowler, along with two Offensive Player of the Year Awards. Glad to see him back in the fold and taking part in Rams activities.
#74) Defensive Tackle Merlin Olsen- 14 Pro Bowls in 15 L.A. seasons, 10-time All-Pro, NFL All-Decade for both the 1960’s and 70’s, NFL 75th Anniversary team and NFL 100th Anniversary team. Nuff’ said.
#75) Defensive end Deacon Jones- Reportedly coined the term “sack” and the use of the now banned head slap. 11 years as a Ram, he totaled eight each All-Pro and Pro Bowl berths. Named !960’s NFL All-Decade, NFL 75th Anniversary, and NFL 100th Anniversary teams.
#78) Offensive tackle Jackie Slater- Played all 20 years in SoCal. Four-time All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowler.
#80) Wide receiver Issac Bruce- Can you believe that Bruce was only voted All-Pro one time and selected for four Pro Bowl’s? He only averaged 80 catches and 1000 yards over 14 Rams seasons. He finished his career with the dreaded 49ers, wearing the “retired” #80 of Jerry Rice.
#85) Defensive end Jack Youngblood- Considered the consumate “tough guy” over his 14 Rams seasons. Lived up up to it by playing the 1979 playoffs and Super Bowl with a fractured fibula. Eight-time All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowl participant. Also named to 1970’s NFL All Decade Team.
The easy ones
All these candidates spent the lion’s share of their careers with the Rams and earned Hall of Fame inductions. Well, except for Torry Holt, and it’s a blot on the HOF escutcheon that he’s not.
QB Norm Van Brocklin #25 - Played in a rotation with Bob Waterfield in four of nine Rams seasons, but was still voted to the Pro Bowl six straight years in the early/mid 1950’s.
QB Kurt Warner #13 - Only spent six years with the Rams, but was deuces wild in trips to the Super Bowl, NFL MVP awards, All-Pro teams, and Pro Bowls.
WR Torry Holt #81 - Two-time All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowler in 11 seasons. In the Top 25 all-time in receptions (22nd), yards (17th), and receiving yards per game (8th).
T Orlando Pace #76 - 12 years in St. Louis. Had a string of seven years where he earned his four All-Pro honors and seven Pro Bowls.
OLB Kevin Greene #91 - Eight of 15 years in SoCal. He only garnered one All-pro and Pro Bowl award, but had the two best seasons of his career as a Ram.
G Tom Mack #65 - A franchise great. In 13 seasons, named All-Pro twice and 11 times to the Pro Bowl. After his rookie year, he started 166 of 170 game regular season games.
WR Elroy Hirsch #40 - Two-time All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler who averaged 18.4 yards per catch over nine seasons.
From back in the day
No HOF buzz with this group, but you could argue that during their terms of service, they were as important to the Rams as their more lauded brethren.
RB Steven Jackson #39 - Eight years as a Ram. Was two-time All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler. Deserves consideration because even when every one in the stadium knew the ball was coming to him he still cranked out eight straight 1000 yard seasons.
FS Nolan Cromwell #21 - Four-time All-Pro and Pro Bowl member, 1980 Defensive Player of the year, NFL All-Decade Team (80’s) in 11 years as a Ram.
FS Eddie Meador #21 - 12 years with L.A., four-time All-Pro, six Pro Bowl berths and NFL All-Decade Team (60’s). Leads Rams in career pass interceptions
T Charlie Cowan #73 - 15 years with L.A. thrice-member of both All-Pro and Pro Bowl teams.
ILB/K/C Les Richter #48 - Rams traded 11 players to acquire him and he never missed a game in nine L.A. seasons. Named All-Pro seven times and Pro Bowl eight. Played middle linebacker and place kicker before moving to center for his final NFL season.
ILB Don Paul #57 - Only played seven seasons in the NFL, all with Los Angeles, but was three-time All-Pro and Pro Bowl member. Just an interesting tidbit: In a 1955 informal poll, he was named the NFL’s dirtiest player.
If the vote was up to me
First off, there have been no reports about the Rams retiring any jerseys. If and when it happens, the Rams marketing will likely make a big show of it. Personally, the new stadium is still the magic, although another rough season and some empty seats would hasten the decision.
Torry Holt, Tom Mack and Les Richter should be next three in line. They were stellar players over all their time with the Rams. Many of the others had a string of stellar seasons, but broke down later in their tenure or moved on to other teams. Just an aside: if the Rams wanted a twofer, they could retire #21, most fans wouldn’t complain about Eddie Meador and Nolan Cromwell both being honored.
Steven Jackson should probably get some consideration, it’s a damn shame he played during such a Rams downturn. He could tote the rock. There is just no telling how high his career numbers would have been if the Rams had any real semblance of a passing offense.
Am I way off in my thinking? Who else deserves more consideration? Or is eight jersey’s enough for now and L.A. should wait on Aaron Donald to retire?