The Los Angeles Rams have had the fortune of fielding some of the greatest players to play the game throughout the years. This list will focus on the 1980s, which saw many elite players don the franchise’s uniform. Here are the top 10 Rams’ players during that era:
10. Wendell Tyler, RB
Although his tenure with the Rams was brief, he made the most of it posting one of his two 1,000-yard seasons with the team in 1981. More than anything, Tyler was a viable starting running back before the team franchise found a Hall of Famer to replace him in the 1983 NFL Draft.
9. Mike Lansford, K
8. LeRoy Irvin, CB
Irvin played 10 seasons as a cornerback for the Rams, where he also received playing time as a punt returner. During his career with the team, he amassed 34 interceptions while earning a pair of Pro Bowl selections in 1985 and 1986. Irvin was a productive and reliable player that played a huge part in the Rams’ defense.
7. Willie “Flipper” Anderson, WR
Although he played just two seasons in the 1980s after being selected with the 46th overall pick in the 1988 draft, Anderson was an explosive big-play wideout. He posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 1989 and 1990 while making a combined 91 catches and averaging at least 21.0 yards per reception over that span. Anderson also broke the NFL record for receiving yards in a game (336) against the New Orleans Saints on November 26, 1989. The UCLA product was a playmaker during his brief career with the Rams, which easily puts him on this list.
6. Jim Everett, QB
The Houston Oilers selected Everett with the third overall pick in the 1986 NFL Draft and then traded his rights to the Rams for multiple drafts. Fortunately, Everett proved that he was worth the risk when he took over the reigns as the full-time starter late in his first season. He had his most productive campaigns in 1988 and 1989, where he lead the NFL in passing touchdowns earning him selections to the Second-Team All-NFC (1988) and Second-Team All-NFL (1989) while earning his lone Pro Bowl selection in 1990. These strong seasons also coincided with two of the three playoff appearances that he had with the franchise. Everett is still the Rams all-time leader in passing yards (23,758) and second in touchdown passes (142) behind Roman Gabriel.
5. Jack Youngblood, DE
While a bulk of his impressive career was played in the 1970s, the Hall of Fame defensive end played his last five years in impressive fashion. In 1980, he was selected as a Second-Team All-Pro and First-Team All-NFC while leading the Rams with 11½ sacks. He followed it up the next season by leading the team with 12½ sacks. In his final two seasons, he had 10.5 sacks in 1983 and 9.5 sacks in 1984. Youngblood may have not played the entire decade, but he certainly was one of the team’s best players during that time.
4. Kevin Greene, LB/DE
The Los Angeles Rams selected Greene in the fifth round of the 1985 NFL Draft. Greene had his breakout season in 1988, when he recorded 16.5 sacks, including 4.5 on Joe Montana in the regular-season finale that helped propel the Rams into the playoffs. He surprisingly didn’t earn a Pro Bowl selection that season, but the following year, he got his first nod after notching 16.5 sacks again. In fact, Greene was a highly productive player in each season that he was with the team finishing with double-digit sacks four times, including three straight from 1988-90.
3. Nolan Cromwell, CB/FS
Cromwell suited up in a Rams’ uniform for 11 seasons and is regarded as arguably the best defensive back in franchise history. During his tenure, he was selected to the Pro Bowl four times while earning three nods as a First-Team All-Pro. His best campaign came in 1980, when he earned his only NFC Defensive Player of the Year award by recording a career-high eight interceptions.
2. Henry Ellard, WR
Before the likes of Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, Ellard was the standard at wide receiver for the Rams. During the 1980s, he earned three Pro Bowl selections (1984, 1988, 1989) and two AP First-Team All-Pro nods (1984, 1988). Ellard had his most productive campaigns at the tail end of the decade recording three straight 1,000-receiving yard seasons. Following his retirement, Ellard was the franchise leader in career receptions (593), receiving yards (9,761), 100-yard games (26), punt return average (11.3), and total offense (11,663).
1. Eric Dickerson, RB
The Hall of Fame running back was without a doubt the top player for the Rams in the 1980s, when he was an unstoppable force in his brief five-year career with the team. Dickerson was an elite tailback from the get-go, setting NFL rookie record with 1,808 rushing yards and 20 total touchdowns that still stands today. His stellar played earned him NFL/NFC Rookie of the Year, NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, and he was also named NFL MVP by the Sporting News.
He followed it up by setting the NFL single-season rushing record (2,105 yards) that has also yet to be broken. During that season, he surpassed the century mark 12 times and broke the record of 100-yard games in a season held by O. J. Simpson. While with the Rams, he earned a Pro Bowl selection four times, an NFL Offensive Player of the Year award (1986), three NFL Offensive Player of the Year awards (1983,1984, 1986), and four AP First-Team All-Pro selections (1983, 1984, 1986, 1987). He also rushed for 1,000 yards in each season with Los Angeles before he was traded to the Indianapolis Colts during the 1987 season.
Dickerson broke numerous NFL records during his illustrious 10-year career that saw him retire as the second-leading rusher of all-time behind fellow Hall of Famer Walter Payton. At the time of his retirement, he was the Rams all-time leader in rushing yards (7,245) and rushing touchdowns (56). Dickerson also owns the team’s three highest single-season rushing yards totals. In that same breath, he’s also still regarded as one of the greatest running backs in league history.
Source: NFL.com, ESPN.com
Bob Garcia IV is a sports journalist from Southern California. He is also the Los Angeles Lakers beat writer for Sportsoutwest.com and About.com. He was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @Bgarcia90.