poster by the great fearsome foursome
PASSING THE TORCH
In 1966, Tom Mack joined a veteran Ram offensive line of Ken Iman, Joe Scibelli and Charlie Cowan.
In the early 70's, John Williams joined Mack, Cowan, Scibelli and Iman.
Cowan, Scibelli and Iman (those 3 adds up to 42 years of NFL experience) pass the torch to Rich Saul, Dennis Harrah and Doug France.
When Kent Hill and Jackie Slater joined these three there was NONE BETTER EVER.
In THE 80's Tom Newberry, Irv Pankey and Doug Smith.
Just remember that Dickerson has the sinsle season record in rushing yards and it is because of the Rams offensive line.
The Ram offensive line was so great that when Dickerson was traded to the Colts a has been running back named Charles White RUSHING KING for the next season.
HERE IS MY ALL-TIME RAM OFFENSIVE LINE
JACKIE SLATER, TOM MACK, RICH SAUL, DENNIS HARRAH AND CHARLIE COWAN. Between these 5 over 35 pro bowls.
The 6-4, 277-pound tackle went on to become the mainstay of the Rams' offensive line. Slater was a first- or second-team all-pro selection following five different seasons and a first- or second-team All-NFC choice seven times. A popular player known for his work ethic and leadership skills, Slater earned seven Pro Bowl berths. His first selection followed the 1983 season, and then in consecutive years from 1985 through 1990.
Twenty-four different quarterbacks and 37 different running backs played behind Slater during his long career. A powerful drive blocker, Slater blocked for seven different 1,000-yard rushers, including Lawrence McCutcheon, Wendell Tyler, Eric Dickerson, Charles White, Greg Bell, Cleveland Gary, and Jerome Bettis. He also blocked in 107 games in which a runner gained 100 yards or more.
Slater was also a quality pass blocker. Twenty-seven times Rams quarterbacks threw for 300 yards or more in a game with Jackie in the lineup. In 1983, he and the Rams offensive line demonstrated their versatility when they allowed a league-low 23 sacks while also paving the way for Dickerson's rookie rushing record of 1,808 yards.
A veteran of 18 playoff games, including Super Bowl XIV, Slater was a model of consistent superlative play and was widely regarded as one of the game's premier linemen. Three times USA Today named him Lineman of the Year. And, as late as 1992, his seventeenth year in the league, Slater was named the Rams' Most Valuable Player, an honor traditionally bestowed upon a younger "skill position" player.
The 6-3, 250-pound Mack earned the first of 11 Pro Bowl invitations after his second season in 1967. From that year through his final 1978 campaign, Tom missed earning a Pro Bowl spot only following the 1976 season. At the time of his retirement, his 11 Pro Bowl games ranked him in a third-place tie with Bob Lilly and Ken Houston among those with the most appearances in the post-season classic. Olsen ranked first with 14 Pro Bowl appearances and is followed by Jim Otto with 12. Mack was also all-pro or All-NFC nine times in a ten-year span from 1969 through 1978. As was the case with the Pro Bowl invitation, he missed All-NFC acclaim only in 1976.
An All-America at Michigan in 1965, Mack was the No. 1 pick of the Rams in the 1966 NFL draft. Tom, who was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on November 1, 1943, was one of only two rookies to survive the entire season on George Allen's veteran-dominated squad. Tom got a starting chance in the fifth game when starter Don Chuy was injured. Mack moved into the lineup the next three games, then relinquished the role briefly to Ted Karras before grabbing the starter's job again. He remained the Rams' starting left guard for the next 12 years.
Rich also remembers the "iron-man" NFL. He started out playing on special teams and wherever the coaches put him. Like Ron, Rich was dedicated to succeeding as a team player. Like his brother, he always thrived on tough, hard-hitting, aggressive football.
In college football," Rich explained, "you have to work on your grades, and you have to take your God-given talent and excel. I still feel a responsibility to MSU, and I still love to see those guys we played with at State."
But instead of talking about his football achievements, Rich preferred to reflect on the important values involved:
"You have to feel dedication, determination, self-sacrifice, and pride. You have to love to compete daily, you have to want to rise to the occasion, and you have to do your best in the fourth quarter. You run the last 110 yards faster than the first 110, even though you're dying.
"Why? Because ever since you're a kid, you love that total release, that feeling of wanting to win. Those kinds of feelings have to be part of you.
"You look back on your years in football, and you remember that you sweat, you bled, you laughed, you cried, you did it all. Every week you were going into battle, counting on the next guy. It's something which you just have to experience."
Rich talked briefly about his surgery at MSU in 1968. But he remembers having his knee hurt a week earlier in the Notre Dame game, a 21-17 victory. Then against Ohio State, he was clipped after a play ended. They carried him off, Doctor Johnson performed his complex surgery, and Rich was determined to play the `69 season and graduate with his class. He did both, and he´s still grateful to Johnson.
Projected earlier as a first-round pick, Rich was chosen in the eighth round, due to his 1969 operation.
"NFL football wasn't so specialized then. We had 40-man rosters, and George Allen didn't keep many rookies. He didn't like `rookie mistakes,´ which cost you wins.
"George's system was complicated, but I was a Scholastic All-American, and I studied it and learned it. I was a `crazy guy´ that first year. Our assistant coach, Marv Levy, charted the special teams, and I made 51 tackles in 14 games on kicks.
"Later, I became the regular center, but I still played on special teams. Then I began making the Pro Bowl, and I played in the Pro Bowl my last six seasons, 1976 through 1981."
The six-time All-Pro also observed, "In the Seventies, 90% of the revenue came from the fans. Today, less than 30% of revenue comes from the fans. It's television. I liked it better when you had to play for the fans, when the players were more involved with the fans.
"But I enjoyed our `iron-man´ football. I played with a lot of great guys such as Merlin Olsen. Today it´s more specialized. Maybe a Dick Butkus or a Joe Schmidt wouldn´t play as much today."
HAVING EVERY RAM PLAYOFF GAME ON VHS FROM 1975 TO 1979 (9 GAMES PLUS SB XIV) RICH SAUL GREATNESS STANDS OUT. THE MAN IS GREAT.
Quietly, off to the side, Charlie told Mack, "Hey, kid, you can be good. We need you on the team. Take the heat of being a rookie. Just keep your mouth shut and work hard."
When John Williams went to the Rams from Baltimore, he was moved from guard to tackle, and Charlie took him under his wing. They would sit next to one another in film sessions, with Charlie offering pointers. "He was like a tutor," says Williams.
Even after Charlie retired, he helped Williams. Charlie lived in Fullerton, Calif., which is where the club had its training camp, and after some practices Williams would visit Charlie to receive tips about the Rams' previous preseason game that Charlie had watched. "He was still teaching, still critiquing," says Williams.
Rich Saul played on defense in college. When he joined the Rams, he was moved to offensive line, something he'd never played in his life. Saul had absolutely no idea how to block. All he had going for him was a lot of effort. Charlie saw this and said, "Come on, kid, I'll take you out each day after practice with me. Why don't we stay out after practice, after the coaches are all done and they're off the field, and I'll show you some techniques and stuff."
They did this a couple of days a week in the weeks before the season began and even into the regular season. In addition to doing his own work in practice, Charlie would keep an eye on Saul and tell him afterward what he'd noticed.
"Charlie was a real teacher," says Saul, who went on to play in six Pro Bowls.
It got to the point where a couple of Ram OL coaches over the years would tell struggling rookies to go to Charlie to find out how to correct what they were doing wrong.
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