The Curse started back in 1973. The then Los Angeles Rams had seemingly leveled out under the leadership of 1962 first round draft pick, Roman Gabriel. Even though Gabriel had guided the Rams to three playoff appearances and been selected the 1969 NFL MVP, he didn't fit with new head coach Chuck Knox's punishing ground attack. Knox also saw the older Gabriel, now hobbled by injuries, as a stumbling block to his offense.
Knox successfully lobbied owner Carroll Rosenbloom to trade Gabriel to Philadelphia and go with the more mobile John Hadl while drafting prospect Ron Jaworski in the 1973 draft. Jaworski himself would be traded to Philadelphia where he would go on to take the Eagles to their first Super Bowl in 1980. Jaworski would be the Eagles all-time leading passer until Donovan McNabb arrived.
The Curse continued when the Rams drafted Pat Haden out of USC. The diminutive Haden was Knox's perfect quarterback: mobile and smart. Haden's limited arm strength allowed Knox to almost completely gut the playbook of any semblance of a vertical attack. The only problem with that was James Harris, whom the Rams had acquired from Buffalo in 1972.
Harris too was mobile, and possessed a cannon for a right arm. His only problem was his skin color. Harris was among the first black quarterbacks to challenge the stereotype that they couldn't play the position in the more "cerebral" NFL. When Harris went down to injury and Haden took over, it gave Rosenbloom the excuse he was looking for to get rid of Harris and go with LA icon Pat Haden. When Haden couldn't get past a broken finger, Rosenbloom brought in Joe Namath, who could barely walk at that point in his career, to try to spark the Rams offense.
Vince Ferragamo eventually stepped in for the injured Haden and inexplicably guided the Rams to the franchise's first Super Bowl appearance in 1979, where the Rams served as fodder for Pittsburgh's Steel Curtain. That was just an aberration. Just as quickly, Ferragamo was in the Canadian Football league and the Rams wouldn't be in football's biggest game for another 20 years.
Inexplicably, the Rams didn't draft another quarterback in the first round until Sam Bradford in 2010. In between, they drafted Doug Flutie (1985) who went to Canada, Hugh Millen (1986), and the great TJ Rubley (1992).
The move to St. Louis only made things worse. Somehow the Rams became convinced that the Big 10 was the source for quarterbacks, drafting Tony Banks (1996), Joe Germaine (1999) and Steve Bellisari (2002). I'm as big an Ohio State fan as you'll find, but there's no way Steve Bellisari should have sniffed an NFL roster.
Jeff Smoker rounded out the Big 10 run in 2004 followed by Harvard's Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2005 and Keith Noll from some place called West Texas A&M in 2009. (I'm convinced that one was really part of a movie, not an actual draft pick.)
Yes, the Rams tried to bring in quarterbacks drafted high by other organizations. Jim Everett, Marc Bulger, Trent Green, Mark Rypien, Gus Frerotte and Chris Miller all paraded through Los Angeles/St. Louis. They left either as losers or as casualties.
The Curse got greedy when it went after Trent Green. I'm sure The Curse was laughing hysterically at the thought of the supermarket stock boy taking snaps while Green writhed in pain. The Curse didn't couldn't match Kurt Warner's counter-mojo.
Warner almost succumbed when his own broken finger led to his fumbling problem, which eventually led to his being run out of town in favor of Bulger. He was banished to New York where he languished until eventually descending into the bowels of football hell: Bill Bidwill's Arizona Cardinals. There, Warner proved himself the ultimate curse-breaker, taking them to the Super Bowl.
Sam Bradford was supposed to be the next Curse-breaker, but now he too has been taken down. Who's next? Kellen Clemens? Austin Davis? Brady Quinn? None of these have the wherewithal to break The Curse, now entering it's fifth decade.
So what's the answer? The Rams could go in one of several directions to counteract this mysterious malady:
Cruise the Supermarkets Hey, it worked once, didn't it? Maybe there's some erstwhile Kurt Warner stocking shelves or cleaning toilets at Dierberg's. Les Snead should dispatch his scouts to scour grocery stores across the country.
Draft a running quarterback with really small hands Maybe, to bring the Rams "Lost" generation of quarterbacks full circle, they need to go back to the future. Could Johnny Manziel be the Pat Haden antidote?
Bring a quarterback back from exile in Philadelphia Forcing Gabriel and Jaws to play before those fans in Philly was cruel. To resolve the karmic dissonance, the Rams could trade for an Eagles quarterback and rescue them from that hell. The Eagles probably aren't going to part with Nick Foles and we really don't want Michael Vick…but Matt Barkley…hey a USC quarterback, too! That could be the move that stops the Rams' quarterback island from continually traveling through this dysfunctional warp.
Actually draft a serviceable quarterback more than once in a generation Now I realize this option is probably the most "out there" of all on the table. Les Snead could actually break free of the Bill Polian model and have a serviceable backup QB behind his number one, whether that be Sam Bradford or someone else. That would involve actually drafting a quarterback in an early round, someone who might even be coveted by other NFL teams!
If Snead doesn't like that course of action, he's still got the others that might work, assuming he's not content starting Curtis Painter/Kellen Clemens/Brady Quinn when the starter goes down.
Or he could always have an exorcism.
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