White-Out Doesn’t Figure to Hurt Rams Today
After last year’s off-the-field miseries, damage control became a central issue in the Rams’ 1988 campaign.
And they pretty much sailed through the summer without a glitch. Papers were shuffled, helmets rolled and interest rates soared--bad for a country but great for a football team. Prosperity seemed just around the corner.
Then, the lab tests came back. Once again, Charles White became a headline. For two days, no one asked the Rams about today’s opponent, the Detroit Lions. That’s not good. Players would much rather talk about opponents.
Instead, attentions turned. Camera crews camped in front of Coach John Robinson’s Fullerton home. This wouldn’t be distracting, would it?
The good news kept coming: The Rams crushed the Packers in last week’s opener. The Rams’ new Eagle defense did not lay eggs. And Jim Everett emerged from it all leading the conference in passing with a 106.9 rating.
Then, of course, it was time to solve the world’s problems.
So what does the coach think about alcohol in sports? What about our children and their heroes? Who’s to blame for Charles White? What about the starving children of Ethiopia?
Also, does Charles White become a distraction even when players spend all their free time swearing he isn’t?
“I have a game to play Sunday,” Everett said Thursday. “That’s where I want my attention to be. That’s the way I’m perceiving it. The NFL did its action. It’s done.”
And really, what is a distraction? Will the Rams not block as well with this on their minds? Will players miss tackles.
“I don’t know,” Robinson said. “I’d have to say no. Charlie’s gone. If Charlie would have hurt a knee and been out four weeks, would that be different?”
OK, finally, the game: The Rams beat up on the Lions last year, winning, 37-16, at the Silverdome, although Detroit held the lead at halftime, 13-10. It was Everett’s finest moment as a pro. He completed 20 of 26 passes for 324 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Detroit Coach Darryl Rogers seems to remember the performance. “When a quarterback gets hot, there’s nothing you can do about it unless you have King Kong standing over there,” Rogers said. “He had a great day, especially in the the second half.”
And you know that Everett and Lion quarterback Chuck Long are long-time college rivals from the Big Ten--Everett from Purdue and Long from Iowa.
Anything controversial to say about Long?
“No,” Everett said.
The Lions, after a 0-4 exhibition season, won their opener against Atlanta, 31-17. Long, who missed three weeks during the summer with tendinitis in his throwing elbow, says the arm is fine now. He tossed for two touchdowns last week.
Everett said that picking apart the Lions’ secondary won’t be as easy now with No. 1 pick Bennie Blades firmly entrenched. The strong safety from Miami had 12 solo tackles in his debut last Sunday.
The Rams also insist that the loss of White won’t affect the offense much. The tailback position has pretty much been shared all summer by White, Greg Bell and Gaston Green. Today, just move White out of the lineup and Bell to starter, with Green coming off the bench.
Bell, who statistically was the best back in camp anyway, is taking the game in stride.
“I’ve been preparing to play,” he said. “I’ve done all the things I’ve wanted to accomplish. I’ll try to keep this team going and move the ball down the field.”
And though one man’s misfortune in this case turns out to be another’s opportunity, Bell can’t help but feel for White, the man he’s replacing.
“We were starting to get camaraderie,” Bell said. “We were all starting to feel good about the offense. You hate to see it, because not only is he affected, but his family is affected. It’s got to be hard for them.”
Wide receiver Henry Ellard is still hobbled with a bad ankle. He will start today, but this won’t be the game for him to start returning punts. . . . The tough times continue for Lion defensive end Reggie Rogers, the team’s first-round pick a year ago. Rogers is listed behind right end Keith Ferguson on the depth chart. . . . Chris Spielman, the former Ohio State star, starts at inside linebacker for Detroit. . . . Ram quarterback Jim Everett wasn’t impressed by his performance last week against Green Bay, though it was good enough make him the NFC’s leading passer after one week. Everett completed 19 of 28 passes for 184 yards and 2 touchdowns. “My game was efficient. But I wasn’t as accurate as I could have been.” . . . Ram nose tackle Greg Meisner (knee) will be on the inactive list again today.