Many St. Louis Rams fans don’t know much about former quarterback Jim Everett. Since he was traded to the New Orleans Saints a year before the team moved to Missouri, their best memory of Everett might be his altercation with ESPN’s Jim Rome.
However, there is more to his career than the Rome incident. I caught up with the former Rams quarterback recently, and he had a lot to say about the team, his career, and of course, Jim Rome.
Everett was drafted by the Houston Oilers with the third pick of the 1986 NFL Draft. He was later traded to the Los Angeles Rams for guard Kent Hill, defensive end William Fuller and three draft picks, including two first rounders. Despite giving up a considerable amount of talent to the Oilers, the deal paid off quickly for the Rams. Everett led the team to the playoffs in both 1988 and 1989.
From playoff team to bottom-dweller
In 1990, the Rams were expected by both the media and the fans to make a run for the Super Bowl. Instead the team slumped to 5-11. Everett was quick to answer when asked about what happened to the Rams:
“We made major personnel changes in the offseason after the NFC loss,” Everett said. “Major changes in ridding the team of our more experienced players and a lack of confidence, I would say, translated into a 5-11 record the next year and a 3-13 season in 1991. I think we played above our heads a bit in 1989, and I’ll admit that from our talent level.”
Everett also pointed out that he wasn’t as sharp as he needed to be that season. He took responsibility for his performance, even though the team was undergoing a complete rebuild.
Front office moves in the NFL
Everett had much to say about life in the NFL, but he stressed how little separation there is from the top teams in the league to the bottom-dwellers. Everett used the 1988 NFL Draft to make his point. The Rams traded Eric Dickerson to the Indianapolis Colts in 1987. Though the team got solid production out of Greg Bell that year, the team was looking to pick up another running back in the draft.
“We’re in the draft room and [head coach] John Robinson wants a particular back,” Everett said. “The Rams’ upper management wants a different back for different reasons. Let’s call it for marketing and publicity. So now you have an executive team that’s not all on the same page because the coach has a system he wants to run, and management wants a good local guy on the team.”
The Rams had plenty of draft picks at their disposal. According to Everett, Robinson and the coaching staff wanted to package a deal to move up in the first round. Offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese’s favorite receiver, Michael Irvin, was still available, and Robinson wanted to make a move. Then the Rams would have drafted running back Thurman Thomas early in the second round. Team management ignored the coaching staff and selected UCLA product Gaston Green in the first round. If the Rams had selected Irvin and Thomas, the 1990s may have turned out differently for the franchise. It took just one draft to change the future of a team.
The Phantom Sack
One of the plays Everett is known for is “The Phantom Sack.” It took place in the fourth quarter of the Rams’ 30-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the 1989 NFC Championship Game. Everett had taken multiple hits throughout the afternoon, and at this point in the game, he was looking for a place to hide.
“Big John Madden was calling the game, and he was the person who first labeled the play as the phantom sack,” Everett said. “And there’s no doubt, he was right on. I ducked to the ground during the fourth quarter when we were down by 4 touchdowns. Watching the film, it actually looked like a sniper hit me, because there was not a person even close when I went for cover.”
Everett laughs about it now, but he admits that he was very discouraged to end the season with such a disheartening loss.
When the Rams traded Everett to the New Orleans Saints in March 1994, he hoped to make a new beginning. Things hadn’t worked out in Los Angeles, and the Saints represented an exciting opportunity. When ESPN contacted Everett’s agent for an interview, he jumped at the chance to talk about his new team, but that’s not what happened.
“I actually thought I was going to do an ESPN Roy Firestone interview,” Everett said. “All I was told by my agent at the time is ‘ESPN wants you, they’re in L.A., and they want to talk to you about your new job.’ I was stoked. I had no clue except for the last 10 minutes before I walked in, and then they told me it was for Jim Rome, the guy who’s been calling me Chris. I didn’t have time to prepare for this.”
Despite multiple warnings from Everett, Rome proceeded to call him “Chris” one last time. Everett got up from his chair, overturned the table dividing the two men, and went after him. Years later, Everett has a sense of humor about his confrontation with Rome.
“It’s pretty hilarious,” Everett said. “When I look back on it, I wouldn’t change a thing. It was just my reaction. I’ve heard people say it was a fake or a setup, but it wasn’t. I can tell you flat out it was just from the gut.”
A good career
Everett’s career had its rough moment, but he still left the game with fond memories. He lists the 1992 Rams’ 31-27 comeback victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the 1989 overtime victory over the Saints as two of his greatest memories of in the NFL.
There is also one game from that era which many fans still talk about. It was the 1989 NFC Divisional Playoff game against the New York Giants. The Rams pushed the game into overtime, and the Giants moved out of their cover two defense in hopes of pressuring Everett. It didn’t work.
“So when we crossed into their territory and when the game was on the line, the Giants came on a blitz, which we were waiting for,” Everett said. “Anyways, the blitz was on and I threw a deep fade pattern to Flipper Anderson. He caught the ball for the touchdown and just continued running through the tunnel.”
Those are priceless memories for Everett and for many long-time Rams fans. Even though his career ended following the 1997 season, Everett doesn’t have any regrets. When he retired, Everett went back to school and earned his master’s degree at Pepperdine University and later started his own company. His business has flourished over the past decade and is still going strong.
When asked about his life in the NFL, Everett put it simply: “If you have the chance to actually get paid to do what you love, I mean, how cool is that? I’ve been blessed. I thank God every day for the opportunity.”
Derek Ciapala has been a Rams fan since he was a child and the team was in Los Angeles. His favorite Rams moments include Flipper Anderson’s 336-yard receiving night against the Saints in 1989, and their miracle 1999 run to their first Super Bowl victory. You can follow him on Twitter @dciapala.
(Originally published on Yahoo! Sports)