5,110 days. 728 weeks. 168 months. Yes, it has been 14 years since the Rams last winning season, a benchmark the 2017 squad achieved with last Sunday’s victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Rams Nation: exhale. With four games left, the best is yet to come.
For many, the quick turnaround under Sean McVay feels eerily similar to the about-face turn the 1999 Rams took on their way to a championship season. Fans had endured a disastrous decade, tied with Cincinnati for the losingest team of the 90s until the GSOT sprang seemingly from out of nowhere. For an entirely new generation of fans, this is foreign territory. When I found myself rooting for the Eagles against the Seahawks the other night, I was reminded via Twitter by this generation that I should set my sights higher: let’s shoot for more than NFC West champs and gun for the #2 seed. Call it PTSD, or a certain dazed disbelief, but yeah, 14 years is a long time – it’s hard to restore a man’s faith in just 12 games.
From 2003-2016, the Rams went 68-139-1, with just one playoff appearance in 2004, notably, a road game victory against the Seattle Seahawks. I was in attendance at that game, and little did my Dad and I know that Bulger to Cleeland in the waning moments would be our last taste of glory for an NFL eternity. When the final whistle blew (Bobby Engram drops a Hasselbeck pass, Rams win) we took off our Rams gear and put it in the backpack I’d brought along so that we might escape incognito and avoid the more “rowdy” 12th Men on our way out of the stadium. In retrospect, we should have savored that moment, braved the drunkards, and let the memory sink in.
Nine wins in the here and now are not enough to cause fans to forget. It is impossible to forgive Chuck Knox, Rich Brooks, Scott Linehan, Steve Spagnuolo or, least of all, Jeff Fisher. No, fans can’t even forgive Joe Vitt or Jim Haslett, and Mike Martz barely gets a pass for his sustained, but flawed success. Current success can’t undo the pain of 208 mostly forgettable Sundays with one remarkable bounce-back season.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past, if you are anxious you are living in the future, if you are at peace you are living in the present.”
― Lao Tzu
So let’s enjoy this, in the present, right? Yes, I’m anxious as hell for the Eagles game this Sunday. And yeah, I’ll once again be at the Seattle game with some rowdy regional Rams fans – and though Dad will be watching this one from the couch, I’ll be sure to live in the now and savor the moment, win or lose (although if the latter occurs, it’s likely we’ll be the ones to avoid leaving the stadium, not the other way around). A winning season is just the tip of the iceberg for this team, but right here, right now: it’s perfect just the way it is.