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Now that they're back in L.A., Rams should revert to throwback uniforms

LOS ANGELES -- The Rams earned their first win as the Los Angeles Rams since 1994 on Sunday, in their first home game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum since 1979.

They did so wearing the classic blue and yellow uniforms they wore in Los Angeles from 1973 until they left Southern California in 1994 and through 1999 in St. Louis, when the team won the Super Bowl.

It's the uniform that Hall of Famers Jack Youngblood, Merlin Olsen, Tom Mack, Eric Dickerson and Jackie Slater made famous. It's also the uniform the Rams wore in Los Angeles when they made the playoffs in all but three seasons from 1973 through 1989, winning seven straight NFC West titles along the way.

The uniforms are also a part of the Rams' history the team would like to tuck away, along with any logos with the Gateway Arch, as it phases out the past and looks toward the future. After wearing the throwbacks for their first win of 2016, the Rams will wear the uniform just one more time this season.

In an otherwise storybook return to Southern California for the Los Angeles Rams, where season tickets are sold out and 91,046 showed up for the home opener, it is the team's biggest mistake.

While the organization has worked diligently to reconnect with a community it left two decades ago and connect with a generation of fans it lost in the process, the Rams have been tone deaf when it comes to the uniform issue. The vast majority of fans in the Coliseum were either wearing blue and yellow jerseys of Dickerson, Youngblood and Vince Ferragamo, or blue and yellow throwbacks jerseys of Todd Gurley, Aaron Donald and Jared Goff.

The Millennium Blue and New Century Gold uniform the team introduced in St. Louis brings up bad memories for a forgiving fan base trying to forget the past. The organization, for whatever reason, fails to understand this despite the fact that every poll ever conducted screams the fans want the throwbacks back.

When Rams executive vice president of football operations Kevin Demoff is asked about this topic, he brings up an NFL rule which requires teams to submit uniform change requests between January and March of a given year for implementation two years after that. "It's not that easy," he'll often say.

The NFL rule Demoff is citing also includes the important line, "absent specific extenuating circumstances as determined by the Commissioner." A team relocating to another city might qualify.

Team and league sources said the Rams likely would have been allowed to change their uniforms to the throwbacks this season and moving forward if they had pushed for it following relocation. After all, we're talking about a team that was approved for relocation just eight days after filing papers. But the Rams never once requested a uniform change. Not for this season, not for next season and not even the season after that.

Why? Because the team wants to go into its new stadium in Inglewood in 2019 with brand-new uniforms and feared if it had petitioned the league to change its uniforms in 2016, it couldn't again change them again in 2019.

But why would the Rams even want to change their uniforms after going back to their classic blue and yellow? The Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers didn't change their uniforms when they moved into new stadiums. The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears didn't change when their stadiums got face-lifts. Maybe the Rams don't view their classic uniforms in the same light, but they should. And the fact that they don't is the biggest blunder in returning to their previous home of 50 years.

There is history in that uniform and helmet. In 1948, Los Angeles Rams halfback Fred Gehrke, who had studied art at the University of Utah, persuaded owner Dan Reeves and head coach Bob Snyder to allow him to paint the team's headgear dark blue with yellow horns. In their second year in Los Angeles, the Rams became the first team in league history with a graphic or logo on their helmet.

Former Rams who played in Los Angeles have been outspoken about the team's unwillingness to change uniforms upon their return home. Fred Dryer said, "Those Rams horns are known globally and for them to bastardize it like this by putting these two stripes [on the shoulder] is stupid. They should fix those horns because right now, it's bulls---."

Even some current players with no connection to the team's previous stint in Los Angeles say they prefer wearing the old uniforms.

"I love the throwbacks," Rams quarterback Case Keenum said after Sunday's win. "I really do. Everyone in the locker room loves the throwbacks. It's something about that blue and yellow that goes together."

Despite what most of the fans, alumni and players want, however, the Rams seem content to phase out one of the most popular and historical uniforms in sports for a brand-new, shiny uniform with no connection to the team's rich history.

In the meantime, with the exception of two games per season over the next three years, Rams fans in Los Angeles will have to forget -- or at least accept their team wearing the same uniforms it did during its time in St. Louis.