Let me just say this about the rivalry between the Rams and the San Francisco 49ers:
There isn’t one. Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton went at each other harder. Lucy and Ricky Ricardo had better fights. A rivalry? The Rams and the 49ers wouldn’t know a good one if Stanford and Cal stopped by with instructions.
Rivalries are supposed to be vibrant, rumor-filled affairs that grow stronger and more spirited each year. It’s Edison High vs. Fountain Valley . . . UCLA vs. USC . . . Mike Tyson vs. Mrs. Roper--now those are rivalries.
The Rams vs. 49ers? It’s $25 a ticket and a package of No-Doz.
I know they’re in the same division. I know they share the same state. I know they play each other twice a year. Big whoop. We need controversy. We need friction. History isn’t enough with these two.
Think about it. The 49ers have won 10 of the last 15 games with the Rams. Before that, the Rams won 23 of 27. A balanced series, this isn’t. Rams lead the series, 45-29-2.
The Rams never have played an overtime game against the 49ers. As for records, the 49ers haven’t done much to annoy the Rams.
The last person to rush for 100 yards against the Rams was a Dallas Cowboy; the last person to throw for 300 yards was a Washington Redskin; the last to throw for 400 yards was a Miami Dolphin. The fewest yards the Rams ever gained in a game was against the Chicago Bears. The most fumbles they ever had was against the Detroit Lions. Turns out the Rams are equal-opportunity opponents.
About the worst thing the 49ers have done was beat the Rams, 48-0, last year. It was the first shutout the Rams had suffered since, well, all the way back to 1986, when the New Orleans Saints beat them, 6-zip. And before you get all indignant about the 48 points the 49ers scored, remember this:
Quarterback Jim Everett was injured and didn’t play. The five Ram rushers that night were Charles White, since-released Donald Evans, since-released Jon Francis, since-waived Steve Dils and since-retired Ron Brown. By the way, the Rams played defense as if their shoelaces were tied together. And you were expecting a victory from that crew?
So forget the revenge factor. We need more than the memory of a game that the Rams were going to lose anyway. We need verbal back-stabbing. May I offer my services.
Name the last time the 49ers insulted the Rams. Or the Rams took some cheap shots at the 49ers.
Still waiting . . .
That’s the problem with these teams: they’re too polite. They need to learn that the only good rivalry is a juicy rivalry. That means timely, well-placed remarks that wind up on locker room bulletin boards or make the 11 p.m. newscast. Otherwise, we’re looking at Harvard vs. Yale and no one wants that, do they?
That’s where I come in. I’d like to think of myself as the rivalry’s friend, the guy who can spruce up a quote for Ram coaches and players as they ready themselves for Sunday’s game against the 49ers in Anaheim Stadium.
For instance, Coach John Robinson needs some assistance. Read for yourself:
“I think the 49ers . . . it’s a big game,” he said this week. “We got hammered by them twice last year. Both times we were not at our best, but they still hammered us. It was an embarrassment to us. We were not able to play that night.
“You play them twice. It’s a rivalry, yeah.”
Now let’s pump some life into Robinson’s words. A little snip there, a little addition here and voila! , a quote’s quote:
“I think the 49ers . . . it’s a big joke. We got hammered by them twice last year, but I figured it was the least I could do, considering all the times my SC teams beat Bill Walsh when he was at Stanford. Hey, I’d be a genius, too, if someone handed me Jerry Rice. Anyway, we play them twice; that’s all I can stand them.”
Now for defensive back LeRoy Irvin.
“I think it’s the cities that really dislike each other,” he said after Monday’s workout. “When the Giants play the Dodgers, there’s a rivalry going on there. When the Rams play the 49ers, there’s a rivalry. As it gets longer and longer down the road, as both teams keep winning, I think the rivalry will grow stronger and stronger.”
Zzzzzzz. A very disappointing effort for someone with Irvin’s sarcastic skills. How about . . .
“I think it’s the cities that really dislike each other. I know I wouldn’t live in San Francisco for all the rice in roni, if you gave me my own trolley car. And Candlestick Park? I’m surprised the people at Rockwell International don’t use that place for a wind tunnel.”
Next up, offensive tackle Jackie Slater.
“I remember one Monday night, they weren’t supposed to beat us and they dominated us several years ago,” he said Monday. “I remember when we weren’t supposed to beat them, but we kept them out of the playoffs. They needed to win and we beat them. So the rivalry is there. It’s a good wholesome rivalry.
“I have fun playing whenever I play, but I guess I do have a little more fun when I play against those guys.”
How nice. How boring. Try this the next time, Jackie:
“I remember one Monday night, they weren’t supposed to beat us, but they ended up with some of the luckiest plays I can remember. Usually, they couldn’t beat a YMCA team. But that night, they must have been cheating or something.
“I have fun playing whenever I play, but I guess I do have a little more fun when we can send Whiney Walsh back home with a loss.”
There. That should get things started. Keep it up and one day you’ll have a real rivalry, like the Bears and Packers . . . Coke and Pepsi . . . Bond and Goldfinger . . .