Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Big Red, Rams of Old Still Talk a Good Game

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Big Red, Rams of Old Still Talk a Good Game

Article excerpt

Maybe the St. Louis Rams will broil up as many memories as their twin ancestors did. But it will take decades to brew the blend of fact, fib and fable that define the old St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams.

For two quick hours Sunday at the Regal Riverfront, the old-timers - suddenly related by marriage - lifted the past into the present.

The beneficiaries? Local children's charities and 600 fans who paid $100 a plate to swallow whoppers along with their prime rib.

About 70 National Football League alumni, not all bearing Bidwillian scars, attended.

As the thick gray line was introduced, a general rule of retirement took shape. Small players had grown bigger, big players had grown smaller and Roger Wehrli and Don Coryell never left the time machine. Ex-Rams sackmaster Deacon Jones got the football rolling, wa piously explaining his Hall of Fame drive: "I had this tremendous need for money. Jobs were not plentiful. Quarterbacks were. The only thing I knew how to do was kill quarterbacks."

The old-timers concede nothing to the new and allegedly improved models. "I'd be willing to bet my fortune that they couldn't play under the same conditions we did," Jones said. "We hit every day. Pain can only be measured in one way: Do you get up, or do they take you to the hospital?"

That lurched into a sore subject: Conrad Dobler, Big Red lineman and failed archangel. "Conrad told the biggest lie I ever heard," Jones said. "He said he was not a dirty player. I said, `Look at your nails. They're all broke.' "

The next shift on the interview couch featured ex-Cardinals Dan Dierdorf and Jackie Smith alongside Cliff Harris, a Dallas Cowboys grad.

Dierdorf praised Harris as "the closest I ever saw a player come to being decapitated on a football field. And it was only a little after the whistle. Maybe three or four seconds. Conrad had already run about 10 yards, and he said, `Seeing as how I've already come this far, I may as well go the last 5 yards.' "

Dierdorf poetically noted how Harris' head swiveled, hit the deck and recoiled. …

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