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The Sports Report: Here's why the Rams have to win the Super Bowl

The Sports Report: Here's why the Rams have to win the Super Bowl
From left, former Rams LeRoy Irvin, Lawrence McCutcheon, Jackie Slater, Nolan Cromwell and Vince Ferragamo participate in the Rich Saul Memorial Golf Classic in 2016. (Steve Virgen / Daily Pilot)

Howdy everyone, and welcome to the Super Bowl Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times daily sports newsletter. My name is Houston Mitchell and I’m your host for the festivities. Subscribe to this newsletter by clicking here.

Let’s get to it.

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Rams

The mission of this newsletter is to recap the day in sports and provide links to our coverage so you can read about things in more detail. I chime in with my opinions when appropriate. Today however, we are doing something a little different. So forgive me if you aren’t a Rams fan, because this newsletter today will be all Rams. And will tell a story about what the Rams in the Super Bowl means to one fan.

But first, you should really be reading all of our tremendous Super Bowl coverage, by clicking here. OK, not all of it is tremendous, but I don’t want any of my colleagues getting their feelings hurt, so let’s say it’s all tremendous just to be safe.

I am a sports fan today because of my parents and older brother. They were all big supporters of our local sports teams. My parents were big Dodgers and Lakers fans. My brother was a big Angels fan (I figure he must be adopted or something). I was a big Dodgers and Lakers fan, but for some reason, when I was little, I became a big Rams fan.

I loved watching the team every Sunday in the 1970s. Lawrence McCutcheon, Jack Youngblood, John Cappelletti, James Harris, Harold Jackson, Cullen Bryant, Wendell Tyler, Billy Waddy, Jackie Slater. The list goes on. I have a Deacon Jones jersey I wear occasionally, even though Deacon was a little before my time. But I know how great he was.

So every Sunday I would watch them. They always seemed to finish 12-4 or 11-5 and would win the West division. Then they would win their first playoff game. Then they would lose to either Dallas or Minnesota (always in a blinding snowstorm) in the NFL title game. It was crushing to me. All that waiting just to get one step away from the big game. All that great play during the season, only to get bad breaks during the playoffs (when you are a kid, your team always loses because of bad breaks, not because the other team was better).

And then exhibition games would begin and the cycle would begin anew. When would my team break through!

Then, in 1979, the team wasn’t as good. Pat Haden started he season at quarterback, but he was ineffective and got hurt. The team turned to Jeff Rutledge, who looked bad in his start. The team was 5-6, and it looked like I didn’t have to worry about getting disappointed in the NFL title game. So they gave the ball to Vince Ferragamo, who played way over his head and led the team to four straight wins. They Rams finished 9-7 and made the playoffs. First-round opponent: The Dallas Cowboys. But hey, at least they made the playoffs.

And then they beat the Cowboys, 21-19, with Ferragamo and Waddy connecting on a 50-yard pass play in the fourth quarter to give the Rams the win. In Dallas. Unbelievable.

Up next was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who had the league’s best defense. The Rams lost to them earlier in the season, 21-6. But in the NFL title game, it was the Rams defense that stood firm in a 9-0 victory.

The Rams were in the Super Bowl! Against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team that had won what seemed like a dozen Super Bowls already..

No one gave the Rams a chance. But I just knew they were going to win. They wouldn’t overcome all the obstacles of the season just to lose now. And they led, 19-17, after three quarters. I try not to think about what happened after that, but they lost, 31-17, in a game that was much, much closer than the final score.

But, even with the loss, I was convinced a title was in the near future. They had a great young quarterback and all the pieces they needed.

They never came that close again.

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So today, they are in the Super Bowl! Against the New England Patriots, a team that has won what seems like a dozen Super Bowls already.

And today I feel 10 years old again. This team was built for this. All the one-year deals and moves they made were designed to win this season. Will they win? I have no idea, but 10-year-old me is really hoping so, because he wants Lawrence McCutcheon, Jack Youngblood, John Cappelletti, James Harris, Harold Jackson, Cullen Bryant, Wendell Tyler, Billy Waddy and Jackie Slater to smile. And he wants to be 10 years old for a little while longer.

When is the Super Bowl?

It’s today at 3:30 p.m. PT on CBS.

Who will win?

We asked, and you voted. With 12,111 votes cast, here is your prediction as to who will win:

Rams, 63.8%

Patriots, 36.2%

This date in sports history

Note: Yesterday in this space it was reported that Pete Maravich became the first NCAA player to score 3,000 points in a season. That of course should be career.

1948: Dick Button becomes the first American to win the world figure skating championship.

1975: Billy Herman, Earl Averill, and Bucky Harris are elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

1977: Martin Dihigo is elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

1979: The Angels send Dave Engle, Paul Hartzell, Brad Havens and Ken Landreaux to the Minnesota Twins for Rod Carew.

1990: Jockey Bill Shoemaker retires.

1993: Major League Baseball suspends Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott for one year because of racist comments.

2002: The New England Patriots defeat the St. Louis Rams, 20-17, to win Super Bowl XXXVI.

2008: The New York Giants defeat the New England Patriots, 17-14, to win Super Bowl XLII and end New England’s bid for a perfect season.

Notable births on this date

1940: NFL quarterback Fran Tarkenton.

1945: NFL quarterback Bob Griese.

1952: Baseball star Fred Lynn.

1968: NBA star Vlade Divac.

And finally

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email me here. If you want to subscribe, click here.

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