NFC West: Tom Fears

What key event significantly changed the fortunes of the Rams -- for better or worse? Give us your take and we’ll give you our definitive moment on May 19.

Long before Kurt Warner was directing the Greatest Show on Turf, Bob Waterfield and Norm Van Brocklin were connecting with Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch and Tom Fears for the Los Angeles Rams of the 1950s. They won a championship, too.

The Rams' 1951 title team sustained an 11-year stretch without a losing season. The Rams would remain successful for years under Sid Gillman, George Allen, Chuck Knox and Ray Malavasi, but none of those teams would win a championship.

The biggest trade in franchise history also earned a spot on the ballot. This swap involved owners, not players. The Rams and Colts traded ownership in 1972. Carroll Rosenbloom's death in 1979 left the Rams to his wife, Georgia Frontiere, who would later move the franchise to her native St. Louis. Her passing in 2008 precipitated the team's latest ownership change.

The Rams' 16 seasons in St. Louis have been eventful. Hiring Dick Vermeil, drafting Orlando Pace, acquiring Marshall Faulk and turning to Warner could all earn spots on the ballot. These were among the defining moments as the Rams brought a championship to St. Louis.

The drama associated with quarterback Trent Green's 1999 preseason injury and Mike Jones' Super Bowl tackle conferred special status to those two events. Green's injury was supposed to doom the Rams' season, but Warner intervened. And when Jones brought down Tennessee Titans receiver Kevin Dyson at the 1-yard line on the final play of Super Bowl XXXIV, the Rams were champions again.

If you vote Other, give us your suggestion in the comments area below.
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says words from Isaac Bruce moved the Rams' current players and leadership. Bruce: "We came to this organization that was bottom of the barrel. And at that moment, I knew this was where I was supposed to be. I chose to continue to walk by faith. I chose to speak life to what seemed like a lifeless situation. The moment I got here, I claimed ownership to this organization. I will never be too big not to clean up around this place, pick up a piece of trash, or I would never be too big or small to do anything else needed by this organization. I've always thought it was the greatest organization in the league, and I would never do anything or say anything to tear down my own house with my words or with my hands." Miklasz shares a story about the time Bruce knocked down 16 Saints players during a game while throwing blocks for Marshall Faulk.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch had this to say during a Rams chat: "I liked the trade for Bobby Carpenter. I think he was a fish out of water in the Dallas 3-4. He might turn out to be a pretty good 4-3 LB. I think the Rams have been shrewd in their dealings with Oshiomogho Atogwe. I expect him to re-sign here eventually. I really liked picking Sam Bradford No. 1 overall. This team desperately needed an infusion of energy, and a good, young QB should provide that. He could be the face of the franchise for the next decade."

Alvin Reid of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says Bruce tipped his cap to Tom Fears and Henry Ellard during his retirement news conference.

Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat wonders, among other things, whether the 49ers will be able to raise money through selling naming rights to a new stadium. Cohn: "The Giants and Jets co-own that new football palace in that marshland in New Jersey. The Giants are a big deal and being located in the New York area -- I wouldn't deign to call the Meadowlands New York for real -- well, being in the vicinity of New York is worth a lot. So how much have the Giants/Jets been able to sell naming rights for? Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch. This is greater New York we're talking about. OK, that's an aberration. How about Dallas, Big D, America's team? Surely, the Cowboys scored big with naming rights on their new pleasure dome. How much did Jerry Jones sell naming rights for? Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch. The Chiefs wanted to sell naming rights for Arrowhead stadium but couldn't."

Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers' grass-roots approach, led by team president Jed York, paid off at the polls. Purdy: "He and his father, John York, literally went block to block and sold the stadium idea in a series of neighborhood meetings at which they took on all questions and worked for votes on the retail level. One campaign consultant estimated that the Yorks made as many as 70 visits to homes all over Santa Clara. It must have been a humbling experience for both men -- but they realized in a smaller city, getting to know people individually would pay off."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee takes a look at the site where the 49ers might build their new stadium.

Also from Barrows: a visit with former Stanford offensive lineman Matt Kopa, now with the 49ers.

Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat offers comments from Jed York regarding the team's stadium plans. York: "We're able to drop our upper deck by 30 to 40 feet and bring it closer to the field, and that's just the geometry of building a football stadium. When you look at what are some of the amenities for the non-suite fans, you've got much bigger concourses where you don't have to worry about walking ... where you can't get into a suite corridor. You've got open concourses, you've got open views and beer gardens and those types of things. But for the suite patrons, it's a lot easier to get them food, get them service, because all of your suites are centralized in one area. ... If all that is comprised in about one-third of your building, you're able to get a much more sustainable building, but you're also able to make sure that you service your patrons, so you don't have to build two or three or four kitchens. You can build one kitchen and get food directly to those patrons."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com rounds up the team's latest roster moves while checking in with newly signed defensive end Will Tukuafu. Farnsworth: "Tukuafu is just happy to be part of the figure-it-out process. After not being selected in the draft, he attended minicamps with the San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins on a tryout basis without getting a contract. That changed Tuesday. Tukuafu, along with (Barrett) Moen, was signed after working out for the Seahawks. He then took part in the offseason conditioning program Wednesday morning, before putting in some extra work with line coach Dan Quinn to get him ready for Thursday’s OTA practice."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic expects Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt to call off the final day of organized team activities, as usual. Whisenhunt on predictions suggesting the Cardinals will not win another division title this year: "That's not different; that's the way it's been ever since I've been here. I'm fine with that."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com reports from a road trip with Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson, who is in North Carolina for a ceremony retiring his high school jersey. Urban: "It’s a huge deal to A-Dub, who has always felt legacy -- in the NFL, and even from his high school days -- is so important. Wilson wants to make his mark in this world -- 'a good mark' as he told me -- and this is part of that."

Also from Urban: Whisenhunt likes what he's seen so far this offseason, summing it up this way: "We've gotten a lot more accomplished this offseason than I think any of us thought back on the first day of free agency or even when Kurt [Warner] retired. Where we go as a team will be determined in training camp. But I am pleased with the effort, attention to detail and the consistent attendance our players have given us. I am excited to see where we go as a team."

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