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Winning Around This Town Has Become Catchy

Since the Los Angeles Lakers won the professional basketball championship, and since the Los Angeles Dodgers won the professional baseball championship, I guess that means when the Los Angeles Rams win the professional football championship, none of us will know which souvenir T-shirt to wear. A Laker shirt with a Dodger cap and a Ram jacket, I suppose.

“City of champions, huh?” quarterback Jim Everett asked Sunday after the Rams beat Seattle, 31-10. “I like the way that sounds. Didn’t Philadelphia do that once?”

Do what?

“Win 3 in a row,” Everett said. “The 76ers, the Flyers and . . . somebody. The Eagles, maybe?”

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Nah. Not the Eagles.

“The Phillies, then,” Everett said.

Wherever and whomever it was, he likes the general idea. And the Rams really do have a shot at attending and winning Super Bowl XXIII, not just because of Jim Everett’s precision passing, but because the Rams’ offensive line is one of the few such units in the National Football League that has not yet permitted its quarterback to get flattened like Sylvester the cat by a cartoon steamroller. Irv Pankey, Tom Newberry, Doug Smith, Duval Love, Jackie Slater, Damone Johnson, take a bow.

Everett felt especially super after Sunday’s game because he had neither an ache nor a pain. No Seahawk came anywhere near him all afternoon. Brian Bosworth needn’t have bothered spraying any Right Guard on his armpits. Everett never got so much as a whiff of him.

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“When you only get touched once or twice all day, it’s heaven,” Everett said.

Somebody wondered how Everett usually feels after a football game.

“Ever been in a car accident?” he asked.

NFL quarterbacks have been spilling like tenpins, but Everett endures. The Rams have kept him safe and sound. For some dumb reason, they still had him in the (cough) contest Sunday with a 21-point advantage and 2 1/2 minutes to play, but this is Coach John Robinson’s headache, not mine. All I know is that Everett has hurled 9 touchdown passes in 3 weeks, so UCLA and USC must remain content to have the second and third hottest quarterbacks in greater Los Angeles.

As pitchers go, Everett is presently doing an Orel Hershiser number. He puts the ball pretty much wherever he wants it.

“I don’t know what a pitcher’s groove is like because I don’t know beans about baseball,” Everett said.

Yes, but nevertheless, somebody persisted, perhaps you can relate to what Hershiser was doing out there in the World Series.

“No way,” Everett said, with a grin as innocent and boyish as Orel’s. “He doesn’t have any 300-pounders chasing him when he throws the ball, trying to hurt his body.”

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Speaking for myself, it will not surprise me one bit when the Rams take the Super Bowl in January. I even got thrown for a minute Sunday by Robinson’s response when he was asked how he liked the direction Jim Everett had his team heading.

“Where he’s headed, really, is to New Orleans,” Robinson said.

For a fast second there, I thought the coach meant his Rams were heading straight for the Super Bowl in the Superdome. Then I remembered that the next championship will be settled in Miami, Fla., not New Orleans. No, what Robinson meant was that the Rams will hit the road in a few days for a division showdown against the Saints.

Funny, but Robinson has come to accept his quarterback’s fine performances almost matter-of-factly. After seeing his 20 of 27, 311-yard, 3-touchdown effort against Seattle, the coach spoke of Everett’s consistency, his continuity, his steady progress, until finally he caught himself in the act.

Hey, Robinson said, “I sound like I’m used to the quarterback doing well.”

What a bonus this has become for Ram coaches, players and fans. They actually expect good things from the quarterback. They are used to touchdown passes, to pinpoint throws under pressure. They are willing to accept a goofy little gamble now and then, because their passer has built up a certain trust in the time he has been here.

Everett is not oblivious to this change in attitude.

“How many times have you seen the Rams on 4th-and-inches throw the ball?” he pointed out, after having done precisely that for Sunday’s third touchdown.

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Robinson, known for his run-oriented squads over the years, is reluctant to get carried away with all this. “Passing is just a part of football. It’s not the most important part,” he said. “It never has been and it never will be. It’s how hard you play, how you tackle, how you block, how you don’t turn the ball over.”

Sure, but ain’t passing fun?

I get the point, though. The Rams are so well-balanced, they have the NFL’s defending rushing champion and he can’t make the starting lineup. Charlie White is second string now to Greg Bell, who came to the Rams in one of the greatest trades since the invention of trades, the Eric Dickerson trade.

Thanks to that whopper, the Rams not only have Bell, who is more than adequate, to go along with White, but they made five picks in the first couple of rounds of the NFL draft and came up with rookies such as wide receivers Aaron Cox and Willie (Flipper) Anderson, both of whom made big catches against the Seahawks. Would the Rams be where they are right now if Gaston Green and Anthony Newman were all they had to show for the first two rounds?

Cox, after catching his fourth touchdown pass of the season, said: “Basically, I’m just having fun. But it wouldn’t matter to me if we were grinding the ball down the field, running it 50 times a game. Long as we win.”

Basically, winners do have fun. These are brand new Rams we are seeing out there, though, to the point that Everett now seems like an old, salty, Billy Kilmer-ish veteran. Bell is new in town. He scored Sunday. Cox is a rookie, and so is Robert Delpino. Both of them scored Sunday. And Everett even flipped a couple of balls to Flipper Anderson, a rookie who had been waiting to get a piece of the action.

“Someone in the stands said, ‘Throw Willie the ball more,’ so I did,” Everett joked.

You can win a championship with rookies, you know.

Remember Tim Belcher.


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