The 1990s were a strange decade for the Rams franchise. The team played in two different cities, had one of the worst stretches in the history of professional football, and ended it by winning the Super Bowl in their only playoff appearance of the decade. The Rams struggled during the 90’s, but there were a few bright spots talent-wise. Here are the five best Rams of the decade:
10. LB Kevin Greene – Kevin Greene’s impact with the Rams began with the 1985 season and extended into the early 90’s. Greene started all but one game from 1990 to 1992 and recorded 26 sacks during that stretch. He wrapped up his Hall of Fame career with a successful run in Pittsburgh and Carolina and finished third all time in sacks. Greene didn’t have the best stretch of the 90’s, but it would be hard to leave such a memorable Ram off this list given how barren the decade was for the team.
9. S Keith Lyle – Keith Lyle was a staple of the Rams defense in the 1990’s. Along with Todd Lyght, he was a leader in the Rams’ secondary from 1994 until 2000 and served as the team’s starting free safety for the majority of this stretch. He recorded 27 interceptions during the 90’s.
8. LB Roman Phifer – Roman Phifer never achieved many personal accolades during his time with the Rams, but he was one of the longest tenured Rams during the 90’s and was a staple on their defense. He started at ROLB for the Rams from 1991 until 1998 and finished his career as the team’s all-time leader in tackles. Phifer held the title for over 10 years until he was surpassed by James Laurinaitis. He was an important part of the Rams during the decade and unfortunately moved on from the team a year before their Super Bowl victory.
7. Jerome Bettis – Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis had a brief but memorable career with the Rams. If Bruce was the first star in St. Louis, Bettis was the last star of the original Los Angeles Rams. Bettis produced a dominant rookie season in 1993, rushing for 1,429 yards and seven touchdowns. He was second in the league in rushing and was selected as a first team All-Pro.
Bettis followed up his rookie season with another stellar 1,000 yard season and a second straight Pro Bowl selection. The Rams switched to a more pass oriented offense for the 1995 season, resulting in Bruce’s rise and Bettis’s fall with the Rams. Bettis was traded to the Steelers following the 1995 season, and that’s where he found most of his success. However, his two-year stretch in L.A. was one of the most memorable of the decade.
6/5. QB Kurt Warner/ RB Marshall Faulk – Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk each only spent a year starting on the Rams during the 1990’s, but it would be impossible to make this list without them. The Rams’ fortunes immediately changed when they acquired Faulk and Warner stepped in at quarterback. Warner won the 1999 NFL Most Valuable Player Award, Faulk was the AP Offensive Player of the Year, and the the Rams won their first Super Bowl. Without Faulk and Warner, Rams fans would only remember the dark times when they think of the 90’s. Now they think of a championship.
4. LT Orlando Pace – The Rams traded up in the 1997 NFL Draft to select Orlando Pace, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions they’ve ever made. Pace started nine games his rookie year before taking over the job for the next 12 years on the Rams. During his short three years in the 90’s, he was selected as a Pro Bowl alternate in 1998 before being named an All-Pro during a breakout season in 1999. Pace was the unsung hero of the Greatest Show on Turf, anchoring the offensive line of one of the best offenses in NFL history.
3. CB Todd Lyght – The Rams selected Todd Lyght with the fifth pick of the 1991 NFL Draft, and he would remain as a starter for the entirety of the decade. Lyght was a staple in the secondary and recorded 29 interceptions at cornerback during his time with the team. Lyght’s career year came during the 1999 Super Bowl run, when he had six interceptions and was named to his first Pro Bowl as well as being selected a second team All-Pro.
2. DE Kevin Carter – Kevin Carter spent half the decade with the Rams and produced a successful stretch with the team. Carter was the sixth overall pick in the 1995 NFL Draft and started every single game for the Rams for the rest of the 90’s. Carter recorded 35 sacks between 1995-1998. He ended the decade with a massive season as the anchor of the Rams defense, recording 17 sacks and being selected as a first team All-Pro.
1. WR Isaac Bruce – Isaac Bruce was the first true star of the St. Louis Rams. After a lackluster rookie year in Los Angeles, Bruce’s career took off following the Rams move to St. Louis. Bruce tallied 203 receptions for 3,119 and 20 touchdowns during his first two years in St. Louis, despite playing with average quarterback play. Bruce suffered two injury riddled seasons before bouncing back with the Greatest Show on Turf in 1999, and helping the team win a Super Bowl as their leading receiver. Bruce would find much more success in the 2000’s, but there’s no denying how much of a force he was in the 90’s. Bruce’s No. 80 jersey was retired in 2010.
Steve Rebeiro is a staff writer for Rams Talk and an undergraduate student at Marquette University. For more of his opinions, follow him on Twitter here.