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Despite defeat, banged-up Rams are starting to show their character
By Bryan Burwell
Of the Post-Dispatch
Sunday, Dec. 12 2004
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - For better or worse, this is who the St. Louis Rams are right
now as they stagger to the finish line of this season like some punch-drunk
fighter on wobbly legs. They are a stripped-down, decidedly unglamorous, but
surprisingly courageous version of their former championship selves.
Sometimes, character does reveal itself at the most unexpected times. So is it
possible that the true character of the 6-7 Rams just might be courage? Is it
possible that in the wreckage of this season - and in the aftermath of Sunday's
painful 20-7 loss to the Carolina Panthers - this young, struggling team in
transition is discovering a deeper, and more meaningful, character trait called
This defeat was not a pleasant thing to watch. But it was to be expected,
particularly when you consider that the Rams were playing with a 39-year-old
quarterback who hadn't played in a year, a third-string running back whose
heart is much greater than his talent, and a third-string right tackle with
three games of NFL experience facing a Pro Bowl freak of nature at defensive
By any account and most expectations, the reeling Rams were supposed to get
waylaid by the streaking Panthers before 73,306 witnesses at Bank of America
Stadium. When you saw Chris Chandler look like some skittish rookie in throwing
six interceptions and all but gift-wrap this game for the Panthers, you'd have
to figure that the Rams would be destroyed by the Panthers.
But the funny thing is, they didn't get smoked. They lost the game, but they
revealed a competitive heart that maybe none of us realized existed. Maybe some
of them, too.
I can't get upset about the Rams losing to the Panthers when I see Marc Bulger
in street clothes. I can't get upset about them losing when I see Steven
Jackson after the game with his right leg swaddled in athletic tape from his
ankle to his upper thigh. The powerful rookie tailback couldn't play because he
had a bad knee that had 50 cc's of fluid drained from it before the game. I
can't get upset about them losing when I see Marshall Faulk on the sideline
with two knees so tender that Mike Martz doesn't have the heart to put him in
"I feel bad because my team played its heart out," said Martz. "All these
things accumulated (during the game), but they didn't stop playing. They didn't
give up. We played as hard as we could."
Okay, playing hard is not exactly a remarkable thing. That's exactly what
professional athletes are supposed to do. But what this team is enduring now is
remarkable. They are not only playing hard, they are playing with extraordinary
guts and guile, playing with pain, and through injuries that would stop lesser
For example, linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa was one of the last players in that
locker room to get out of his uniform after the game, mainly because he
probably couldn't get undressed by himself. His right shoulder had popped out
of its socket again during the first half, and the team doctors strapped his
upper body in a confining harness that was supposed to prevent the dislocated
shoulder from popping out again.
So there he was an hour after the game, being helped by two team trainers
removing his shoulder pads and the harness. The post-game medical report said
he had a "mild dislocation."
Tinoisamoa laughed at the clinical description. "Is it 'mild'? Hummmpfff, I
don't really know. Mild? Severe? All I know is this damned thing hurts," he
said chuckling and rubbing the shoulder blade. "But I don't make a big deal out
of it because we have guys on this team who don't want to sit down (and not
play because of injuries). We have a bunch of fighters on this team. We have
guys on this team who are hurtin' but they keep on playing."
As Tinoisamoa talked, he motioned with his right arm in a big, slow, sweeping
motion around the room. He swept his arm out to the far right corner of the
room, and started pointing out all the different teammates who were doing the
same thing he was doing, enduring extraordinary pain and finding a way to get
out on the field and play.
"Look around here," said Tinoisamoa. "Travis Fisher over there has a steel
plate in his arm and the screws that are supposed to be holding the plates in
place are popping out of his arm. We have guys with bad shoulders. We have guys
with bad knees, turf toe, whatever, and they're playing. That's what we do.
That's our business."
On the other side of the room, big Steven Jackson was getting dressed and
fretting over the fact that he couldn't play. The powerful and talented rookie
was angry with himself because he wasn't able to do what some of his teammates
were able to do on Sunday. But when a doctor is sticking a long needle in your
knee and draining large amounts of fluid out of your knee, it's just not
practical to think that the Rams could have rolled him out there against the
Yet that didn't stop the kid from imagining what sort of impact he could have
had on the game. "It makes me mad, because I know I could have run on those
guys," he said, shaking his head. "I saw things out there that I know I could
have done. I could have helped us win."
So if there is something positive to be gleaned from this loss, maybe it's
this: There is a toughness growing among the younger players on this team, and
perhaps it is becoming contagious. "I don't care what's wrong with my knee next
week," Jackson said. "Next week against Arizona, I'm playing. Period. How's my
knee? It's fine. Well, at least I can tell you that it's gonna be fine enough
to play next week no matter what."
Re: Despite defeat, banged-up Rams are starting to show their character
I read this .......................
then I read what some of the Ram fans are posting .......................
It makes you sick to read some of the stuff. I just wish some of our fans had as much heart as our Ram players do.
Re: Despite defeat, banged-up Rams are starting to show their charactera third-string right tackle with three games of NFL experience facing a Pro Bowl freak of nature
Originally Posted by Pisa T."Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod
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