1973-1979 - Title Contenders

Dennis Harrah proved the importance of guards

The offensive guard position was one of the most undervalued positions on any football team for many years. Now their paychecks have skyrocketed to ridiculous proportions, and they are being drafted more often in the first round. Not a whole lot of them are celebrated throughout NFL history, but exceptions are made with players like former Los Angeles Rams guard Dennis Harrah.

Miami Hurricanes (1972-1974): Dennis Harrah could possibly be the University of Miami’s best offensive lineman in school history. His size alone was intimidating. Hannah stood at 6’5″ and weighed about 259 pounds while playing for the Hurricanes, which while common today was huge for that age. Harrah used his huge frame to his advantage and was celebrated for it during his senior season when he was named an All-American.

Interestingly enough, he probably would have been an NFL Combine icon considering he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds and bench pressed 500 pounds. Of course, this earned the attention of NFL scouts, and he was eventually selected in the first round (11th overall) in the 1975 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. Harrah was later inducted in the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame in 1989.

Los Angeles Rams (1975-1987): Harrah sat in the shadow of veteran guard Joe Scibelli during his rookie year, mainly contributing on special teams. The following season (1976) he was named the starting right guard and played alongside fellow Rams legends left guard Tom Mack and center Rich Saul. That season, the Rams were fifth in league in total yards with 4,869.

Harrah was selected to his first Pro Bowl in 1978. In fact, the majority of the Rams’ offensive line was selected to the Pro Bowl, including Saul, Mack and left tackle Doug France. The high praise of the offensive line was  due to the offense falling within the top 10 of nearly every category on offense, despite not having any major playmakers to work with that year.

The 1979 season will always be known as “the one that got away.” The Rams battled it out the entire season only to lose 31-19 to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XIV. The team made it to the promised land because of the ground game and the efforts of the offensive line. The Rams finished seventh in the league in rushing yards with 2,460, and leading the way was running back Wendell Tyler, who rushed for 1,109 of those yards. A big thank you is owed to Harrah for making a way for the running backs.

One of the best statistical seasons Harrah had came in 1980. Of course, it didn’t hurt that offensive tackle Jackie Slater came into the picture, left guard Kent Hill played an excellent season, and Saul and Harrah continued their dominance. The Rams were second in the league in total yards with a staggering 6,006. They led the NFL in rushing yards with 2,799.

Harrah ended his final two seasons on a high note. He entered the 1986 season at 33 years old, and yet he still earned himself a spot Pro Bowl roster. Harrah was also named first team All-Pro. He earned all of these accolades by contributing to running back Eric Dickerson’s 1,821-yard season. Harrah also made the Pro Bowl his final season in 1987 for the sixth time in his career. Harrah retired after helping the Rams win six NFC West titles and one NFC Conference championship.

Hall of Fame?: Harrah is one of the most overlooked players during the Hall of Fame selection process. Partially because tackles are generally looked at more than before guards, but Harrah in particular has just been neglected over the years. He is in good company, because Saul suffers from the same neglect because centers are often overlooked as well. No doubt that Harrah and Saul are deserving and should be inducted at some point. Either way, Harrah will always be a huge part of the Rams’ history.

Source:  Pro-sports-reference.com, UMsporthalloffame.com

You can follow Johnny Gomez on Twitter @Johnny5not6. Be sure to follow Rams Talk on Twitter @TalkRams.

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