Friday, March 5, 2010

1995 NFL Mail Bag: The Los Angeles Rams

One of the things that makes you feel old is when you sift through your old mail to find indicators of the past. This can take many forms: friends you no longer talk to, relatives who are no longer living, middle school teachers you no longer see for 7th period social studies or, in some peculiar cases, sports franchises that no longer exist.

This brings us to the next team on my 1995 Mail Bag list: The Los Angeles Rams.

The fact that I even have mail from the Los Angeles Rams is pretty remarkable considering when I did this project. The postmark on the envelope is May 8, 1995, which must have been before the Rams pulled up stakes for St. Louis after a protracted legal battle with the NFL, but the Rams did indeed spend that fall in the Gateway City, where they still reside. I'm not sure how I managed to get this lucky, obscure pieces of NFL history are always fun to uncover, and in fact, I had entirely forgotten that the Rams were still in L.A. when I wrote all these letters.

Given that they were moving to St. Louis shortly after, something that made Tania Ganguli and the four other remaining Rams fans in southern California cry, my guess is they were doing their best to get rid of all the remaining stationary. As per wikipedia, the Rams had waned in importance on the L.A. sports scene and were seeking a way to bring value back to the franchise as they were unable to compete in their current home stadium of Anaheim. Interestingly, the Rams' move was blocked by several owners who chalked up their struggles to incompetent management rather than a bad market.

Somehow, I don't buy Frontiere's argument.

After all, it's Los Angeles. There are people there.

The Rams had flourished for nearly 50 years in the City of Angels, but late Rams owner Georgia Frontiere had developed something of a reputation for greed, and she wanted the money. Interestingly, the Rams nearly moved to Baltimore before Frontiere settled on her home city of St. Louis, which agreed to publicly fund a new Stadium. Of course there was a bizarre period before the TWA (now Edward Jones) Dome was built in which the Rams actually played at Busch Stadium, home of the Cardinals.

In any event, the greed of Frontiere doesn't seem all that crazy since the Rams didn't send me very much. Most teams didn't, but the Rams must have been in full conservation mode because all I got was a letter thanking me for my support which informed me that the opposite side had the 1995 Los Angeles Rams Price List, informing me of the great low prices that awaited for that year's merchandise.

To be fair, this may simply be the onslaught of inflation causing me to look retrospectively, but the prices really were pretty cheap. A gameday program was just $5. A team picture? $4. A totally sweet Rams pennant? That's just $3. At this point I would love to have that simply for kitsch value. Not enough that I'm going to go on eBay and buy one, but still, you get the point. There was some pretty fun stuff available, including the 1994 Cheerleader Poster which could be had for just $6. There is a whole treasure trove of 1995 L.A. Rams merchandise that was just waiting for my purchase, though they do note that the 1995 L.A. Rams Yearbook won't be available until October.

Of course, another way to say that is "it won't ever be available because the team will no longer exist".

The only thing missing from this list that I could really have wanted, would be a VHS Copy of the classic 1986 innuendo-filled pop song "Ram It", one of many outrageously bad music videos released by professional football teams in the mid-1980s.

Do you know how to Ram it?

Yes, I know what you're thinking. "Dave, that can't possibly be real. It's just too ridiculous." Well if you doubt its authenticity, don't worry. There's also a making of video.

Really, that is the only thing missing from this list. I know it was nine years earlier, but they must have had some copies of it buried somewhere in the team's Anaheim offices. Unfortunately, though, I instead would have had to settle for one of the $1 Rams decals. The only thing that seems overpriced really is the annual subscription to official L.A. Rams press releases, which runs a hefty $40. I'm not entirely sure why someone who wasn't already working for a major news organization would have wanted this, but considering that I now pay $20 a year for Time Magazine and $35 a year for Newsweek 15 years later, well, $40 seems a bit high, no? Perhaps more alarming is that anything I ordered, according to the list, would require 4-6 weeks for delivery.

Strangely enough, I think it would take considerably longer than that now.

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