In Cynical Times, These Rams Deserve Support
By Barry Waller
The Rams, who have drawn so much criticism from their fans this season, are a group of men that any city should be proud to have represent them. They are certainly not perfect, and it’s tougher for an NFL player to hide his skeletons than it is their fans, or even their owners, but as a whole they are superior to most pro teams, with no prima donnas, and no truly bad apples.
Head coach Mike Martz has talked about how this team is special, even compared to the stellar teams of the past few years, about how these young men have really grown and pulled together to elevate a team looking to be on the decline in early December. In interviewing the players, it becomes apparent how different this group is to so many others. The “Rams way” is written on a sign in the Rams locker room, and they really seem to live by it, according to Martz.
“You've seen the sign up in our locker room, 'Give yourself completely, ask nothing in return, excellence will be yours.' It's all about unselfishness. With young kids that come in here, they have to learn that unselfishness. Until they do that completely, that team, that connection that you have is going to diminish, or not be where it should be. I think that part has come together now. We have guys that are playing for each other, and that's the goal for all of us, is to create that team environment. We work very hard at it, we have an unselfish attitude, and we play for each other. That's what we talk about every day," said Martz Wednesday.
Torry Holt speaks not about Pro Bowl snubs or his record setting season, but about how Mike Furrey, inactive for nearly two months, returned to duty last week with an inspiring effort on special teams. Furrey received a game ball from his teammates for his effort. Holt spoke about how good his quarterback is, about how much help Isaac Bruce was to him, and how he tries to pass on that tradition now that he is a superstar.
Rams rookie Tony Hargrove spoke about Holt’s calming influence earlier this year, nothing complicated, just advice to “calm down, relax, and play,” according to Hargrove, now a starter on the Rams defensive line. Just knowing that one of the biggest stars in the NFL was behind him can have a big impact on a 21-year old athlete’s development, something lost in many locker rooms.
Bulger is as nice, and as humble a person as anyone could meet, and he has no plans to change with his newfound riches and celebrity. He symbolizes the Rams continued personality as a group it is very easy to root for, and care about.
Now that the Rams have won a playoff game, and seem to definitely be headed in the right direction for next season and beyond, maybe fans can put aside all the negatives kept aflame by the media, and enjoy watching their team perform for them and for one another. Chances are it won’t happen universally, but I plan to do just that, win or lose from here on in. This young team has earned that from its fans, whether they think so or not.
Many who were around back in 1979 talk of the similarities of that team to the 2004 addition, struggling with injuries and youngsters most of the season, but growing together throughout, learning from veterans like Hall-of Famer Jack Youngblood, playing in the playoffs with a broken leg, as they kept a miracle dream alive all the way until the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, when two bombs thrown by the Steelers Terry Bradshaw floated millimeters from the fingertips of Rams defenders, and became the nails in their final coffin.
Of all the great Rams teams, many fans look back on that 9-7 team with the most affection of any, and this 2004 squad could very well find the same kind of place in the hearts of its faithful.
Re: In Cynical Times, These Rams Deserve Support
This Ram team is definitely doing something special. I think they're surprising everyone and becoming the squad nobody wants to face. Let's hope they continue to build on what they have done the last few weeks and make their mark. I'm really looking forward to experiencing the ride.