God bless the Oakland Raiders for turning an ordinary Friday into a preposterous news grab concerning a possible franchise move to Las Vegas.
Former owner Al Davis, one of the first jump-suit Elvis impersonators, would have been proud.
Never mind this plan has a snowball’s chance at the Bunny Ranch of happening. The NFL is not going to allow Cam Newton to swap show tunes with Wayne Newton. “No, danke schoen,” commissioner Roger Goodell would sing to the Raiders in a high-pitched voice. Read More
Favorite Rams 10-1
10. Fritz Shurmur. This pick involves at least two damn shames. One is that Fritz died too young and the other, at least for Rams’ fans, is that he won a Super Bowl ring with the Green Bay Packers’ coaching staff. Fritz was one of the underrated defensive minds of the 1980s even though his “soft” zone concepts ran counter to the macho “46” Buddy Ryan made famous. Buddy didn’t care much for passive ideas but Fritz got the last laugh when the Rams’ sissy zone stopped the Philadelphia Eagles cold, 21-7, in the 1989 NFC Wild Card game. The Eagles were coached by…Buddy Ryan. The name of Shurmur’s defense, which featured two down linemen and five linebackers? It was called “Eagle.” It remains one of the best game plans ever implemented by a coordinator. Read More
Favorite Rams: 15 – 11
15. John Robinson. His nine-year record of 79-74 was undermined by a 10-24 record his last two seasons as the L.A. franchise started its death spiral. The Robinson I covered, as a back-up and beat man, from 1983 until 1990, averaged almost 10 wins per year and went to NFC title games in 1985 and 1989. Robinson was a beat writer’s dream, filling your time and notebook so you didn’t go snooping for stories he didn’t want reported. We did anyway, yet Robinson was a master CEO coach who surrounded himself with great assistants and then let them do their jobs. You couldn’t have better offensive and defensive coordinators than Ernie Zampese and Fritz Shurmur. Many of us admired Robinson for not sleeping in his office three nights a week, as some NFL coaches did. He enjoyed movies, arts, food and sometimes we’d have to kick him out of the press room so we could get our work done. Read More
Favorite Rams: 20 – 16
20. Tom Mack. In my youth “Right Guard” was always a deodorant and “Left Guard” was always Tom Mack. He was our anchor baby, a Michigan man so bright George Allen played him as NFL infant–and Allen generally hated any player under 35. Mack never missed a game in 184 starts,made 11 Pro Bowls, the Hall of Fame and STILL hasn’t moved on a bogus penalty that cost the Rams the 1974 NFC championship game in Minnesota. Read More
Rankman tried his best to act like he didn’t care when the Rams bolted for St. Louis in 1995. It was the journalist in me, feigning indifference to another money-grubbing owner ripping a local institution from its historical moorings. But of course I was pissed off and could not even stomach watching Georgia Frontiere lift the Lombardi Trophy after winning a Super Bowl for St. Louis. The LOS ANGELES Rams came on to my radar as a boy around 1966, when lip-licking coach George Allen raised my NFL consciousness in leading our heroes to the pinnacle of greatness. It was a period of thrilling highs and gut-wrenching heartbreak and all my memories are in black-and-white. Rankman was lucky to end up covering the Rams, for the L.A. Times, in the period roughly from 1983 until 1990. With the Rams coming home after all these years, I thought it would be fun to roll out my top-25 list of all-time favorite Rams. Your list should be different. Read More
The story you are about to read is true. Nothing but my memory has been altered. This REALLY happened.
“You son of a bitch.”
Jim Everett said some variation of that as he walked across the room to greet Ronnie Lott. It was a few years ago, at a Lott Trophy spring luncheon in Newport Beach. “I still can’t believe you got to that ball.”
Three of us were standing there: Everett, Lott, and me. I was chatting up Lott about something or another when Everett, still looking boyish in his 50s, walked over. A quarter century after the fact, we all knew. We were all at Candlestick Park that mid-January day in 1990. Read More
Rankman’s ridiculously LATE top 10 projections for the 2015 football season:
1: Alabama. The Crimson Tide, just like Florida in 2008, can afford a home loss to Ole Miss and still win the national title. Lane Kiffin completes 12-step career rehabilitation program with a second brilliant year as offensive coordinator. We hope Kiffin doesn’t miss the bus on another head coaching opportunity. Word is cloth-coat conservative Nick Saban is going to loosen his tie a bit and take some chances this year. Hey, how about an onsides kick in the national title game? Yeah, right. That’s a funny one. Read more
GLENDALE, Az.–Alabama won a thrilling national title game Monday night because coach Nick Saban got crazy and called for an on-sides kick, in the fourth quarter, of a tied game.
This was Nick Saban who did this, not Steve Spurrier, or Les Miles, or Charles Barkley from a Las Vegas blackjack table. This was Nick S-A-B-A-N, who built his reputation on safe, solid, traditional, cloth-coat football. Read More
GLENDALE, Az.–Nick Saban doesn’t want to be compared to Bear Bryant so we’ll relieve that burden by picking him to lose a game Bear would have won.
“Well, first of all,” Saban said this week, Bear Bryant has to be the greatest coach ever in college football.”
We here at Rankman agree–Pop Warner, go fly a kite!
Saban, as it concerns Bryant, said he should not “be considered anything like him.”
Like him or not, though, a win tonight over Clemson at University of Phoenix Stadium would vault Saban closer to Bryant’s stratosphere. It would give Saban his fifth national title–four at Alabama to go with his one at Louisiana State. Read More
SCOTTSDALE, Az.–Lane Kiffin deserves another chance. Wow, typing that didn’t hurt as much as I thought.
Once upon a time, admittedly, it would have been like saying “Donald Trump is misunderstood.”
The only thing we do better than bring people down is lift them up. We are a righteous lot. We love people to fall, rise, fail, then rise again.
Kiffin is a human elevator. He didn’t deserve three prime head coaching jobs before the age of 35. Of course, he would not exactly admit that Saturday at Media Day in advance of Monday’s national title game between Alabama and Clemson. Read More