When Raider strong safety Ronnie Lott was trying to select a new team after he became a Plan B free agent last February, he met with Ram Coach John Robinson and defensive coordinator Jeff Fisher.
Lott considered signing with the Rams because he played for Robinson at USC, where Fisher was his teammate in the Trojan defensive backfield.
"I've always admired those guys," Lott said. "I think the key for me was I didn't think I wanted to go there because the Raiders gave me a great situation here; and Jeff and I played in the same secondary together, and I didn't know how that would have worked out. It was kind of funny just seeing him there.
"I've admired (Fisher) over the years, but I didn't want to have any conflicts and any players looking at me and saying. . . ."
Although Fisher and Lott are both 32, Fisher said he didn't think he would have had any trouble coaching Lott.
"The first point I made to him was that this is my scheme and my defense, and I don't take any input from players until I think they understand the scheme completely," Fisher said. "It wouldn't have been a problem."
Although the Rams have a reputation for not offering lucrative contracts, Lott maintained money wasn't the issue.
"It had nothing to do with money," Lott said. "I admire John, and I would have given him every opportunity; but I just felt more comfortable coming to the Raiders, and I was intrigued by Mr. Davis." As in Al Davis, the owner.
Lott probably made the Rams wish that they had signed him after he intercepted two Jim Everett passes in the fourth quarter Sunday to set up Nick Bell's tying touchdown and Jeff Jaeger's 34-yard game-winning field goal in a 20-17 victory over the Rams at the Coliseum.
It was the second game in a row that Lott, who has three interceptions in the last two weeks, has helped the Raiders win. Lott's first interception as a Raider set up Jaeger's game-winning field goal in last week's 23-20 overtime win at Seattle.
Although the San Francisco 49ers made Lott a Plan B free agent because they claimed he was too old to be productive, he's proving that he can make big plays to turn games around.
"I don't know if it proves anything," Lott said. "I guess it proves that I've got a four-leaf clover in my pocket. "You always look for big plays. (Raider linebacker) Jerry Robinson came up to me before the game and said, 'You're going to make a play today.' It happened last week, too. I'm just going to stay around Jerry Robinson because every time I talk to him I've been able to come up with a play."
With the Raiders trailing, 17-10, Lott made two big plays.
After driving from their own 38-yard line to the Raider eight, the Rams appeared as if they were going to ice the game with another touchdown, but Lott intercepted an Everett pass in the end zone that was intended for tight end Jim Price with 6:22 left. "You could see that before Everett released the ball that it was like, 'Yes, I got this one, this is a touchdown,' " Lott said. "When he released the ball he kind of floated it because he knew there was nobody there. He didn't account for me. I was able to get over there. It was just one of those things, a lucky break, I guess."
"Ronnie Lott came over and made a great play," Everett said. "I thought it was going to be a touchdown."
Lott, who downed the ball in the end zone, considered returning it, but changed his mind.
"I decided that since I'm an old guy and since I'm on Plan B, I'd better not try to run it out," Lott said. "I couldn't get out of the end zone. I felt that it was the right decision at the time. I wanted to get the ball to our offense. (Ram tackle) Jackie Slater probably would have caught me."
Five plays after Lott's interception, the Raiders tied it, 17-17, on Bell's one-yard touchdown run with 4:08 remaining.
Lott made his second big play on the Rams' next drive when he intercepted a pass that bounced off the helmet of Raider defensive end Howie Long at the Ram 39-yard line with 3:07 left.
"That's using my head," Long said. "It was just a low pass. I think it was a slant-in, and I was coming around in the middle and (Everett) hit me in the head with the ball. I'll take it."
Lott said he was in the right place at the right time.
"It was just another bad throw by Jim," Lott said. "It bounced off Howie Long's head, and the tight end had slid down, so I was surprised that he even threw it. I just wanted to hold onto it because I felt our offense was moving the ball so I didn't want to take a chance."
Eight plays after Lott's second interception, Jaeger won the game with a 34-yard field goal with two seconds left.
What has Lott meant to the Raiders?
"He's meant two wins in the last two weeks," Long said.