Tuesday, May 31, 2011
When the Rams traded an all-time great
By Mike Sando
Your favorite NFL team would never trade one of its best players to satisfy the player's desire to join a team closer to home.
Unless, that is, your favorite team was the 1956 Los Angeles Rams.
Defensive end Andy Robustelli, who passed away recently at age 85, had won two championships in five seasons with the Rams when he asked the team to trade him, citing family reasons. The Rams complied.
The Associated Press story from July 29, 1956 put it this way:
"Coach Jim Lee Howell said Robustelli became available to the Giants because of the athlete's 'increasing reluctance to leave his Stamford, Conn., home and play on the West Coast.' Robustelli is the father of four."
The Rams netted a 1957 first-round draft choice from the Giants for Robustelli, a World War II veteran who was 30 years old at the time. They used the choice for receiver Del Shofner, who went to five Pro Bowls and earned a spot on the 1960s All-Decade team.
Robustelli's instinctive, heady play meshed perfectly with the defenses Tom Landry was running as the Giants' top defensive assistant at the time. The Giants won a championship in their first season with Robustelli. The Rams went 4-8 that year.
Robustelli played in six more NFL title games with the Giants on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And, thanks to the Rams, he didn't have to venture very far for training camp.