For 20 years, the Rams were in St. Louis. It was where “The Greatest Show on Turf” was born and where they brought home the franchise’s only Super Bowl title.
But this past January, team owner Stan Kroenke (along with 29 other league owners), voted to move the team to Los Angeles (where they played for most of the 20th century). A city was left betrayed, heartbroken, and speechless.
On top of all of the above, there was never a true final farewell for St. Louis.
That is, until Isaac Bruce worked in conjunction with his foundation (http://www.isaacbruce.org/) to create an exhibition game featuring players from “The Greatest Show on Turf” as well as other Rams players from the early 2ooo’s to not only have all the proceeds from the event go to a great charity/foundation, but to give the Rams fans in St. Louis one final game full of memories, laughs, and even tears.
As each player and coach made their entrance, the applause got louder and louder. Players like Sean Landeta, Rich Coady, and Keith Lyle received warm receptions. But when the more well-known players and coaches such as Dick Vermeil, Torry Holt and Mike Jones started entering, the cheers got louder.
Enter Kurt Warner.
I personally stood right by the entrance, and felt the electricity brought just by the mere presence of Warner. The same can be said for the last player to enter the field: the man who organized it all… Bruce.
For some fans, this was a nice get together of legends. For others, like longtime Rams fans Jen and Rob Harper, this was much more.
“It’s good to see them back,” Jen said. “Them [the Rams] leaving left this city down, but it’s good to see all of these guys back”. “These are our memories, our players, and our city”.
“If I had to sum it all up in one word, it’d be this: nostalgia,” Rob said. “It’s also exciting to see the bob-and-weave back”.
Yes, the NFL could not penalize anything from this game. No Roger Goodell. No Kevin Demoff. And most importantly, no Stan Kroenke.
And yes, “Kroenke sucks!” chants were rampant during parts of the game.
During halftime, there was a ceremony to honor Rams legend and newly inducted Hall of Famer Orlando Pace. He rode around in a cart waving to the fans, then was interviewed on the sideline. It was clear how humbled the former tackle was, and how much the city means to him.
Vermeil’s White squad (with Marc Bulger at quarterback) defeated Mike Martz’s Blue team (with Warner) 56-49. There was hardly any defense, one of the best runners in the game was kicker Jeff Wilkins (yes, you read that right), and there were no special teams.
Despite all of that, it was an absolutely special time.
The crowd of 10,600 was smaller than anticipated by the Isaac Bruce Foundation, but the event was still deemed a success.
“Knowing the St. Louis fan, it shouldn’t have surprised me,” Vermeil said. “But I was a little concerned. I actually mentioned it to Isaac months ago, that you might get a negative reaction. You might not get what you want. It cost a lot of money (to organize). So for the fans to come and do what they did today shows you what class they have as a city.”
There were TDs on 15 of the day’s 17 total possessions. It was essentially the best offense fans in The Dome have seen in years.
“This shows how unimportant coaching is,” Vermeil said. “You see those quarterbacks throw the ball. It’s amazing.”
Warner and Bulger looked just as great on Saturday as they did in their primes.
The game was such a throwback that The Dome was referred to the “Trans World Dome” during the afternoon.
“It felt great”, Bruce said after the game. “There was no begging involved getting these guys together for such a wonderful event”.
While the plan was for the “Legends of the Dome” game to be a one-time event, both Bruce and NFL Hall of Famer Aeneas Williams both stated that it could be an annual event.
“I don’t see why not,” Bruce added. “It would definitely be a lot easier to organize.”
Editor’s note: I personally want to send my sincere thanks to the Isaac Bruce Foundation, Bruce himself, as well as all of the Rams players and coaches that came out to the game and gave a true farewell to St. Louis football. It means so much to so many people. We’ll always have the memories, both the good and bad, and “The Greatest Show on Turf” will forever be a part of St. Louis.