Initial thoughts on Rich Saul's passing

Three NFL players earned Pro Bowl honors every season from 1976 through 1981.

Hall of Famer Jack Lambert was one. Robert Brazile, who might also be deserving, was another.

The third: Rich Saul, who played 176 regular-season and 12 playoff games for the Los Angeles Rams from 1970-1981.

Saul, who died Sunday at age 64 following a 13-year fight with cancer, made a profound impact on and off the field. That comes through in the testimonials left for Saul on a Caring Bridge website, and in conversations with his former teammates.

"I can't express what Richie meant to us," Jack Youngblood said Monday.

Saul, Youngblood and Phil Olsen remained close friends from their playing days with the Rams to the present. I'm looking forward to passing along more of their thoughts and remembrances in an upcoming piece.

Saul spent years as an elite special-teams player before finishing his career as one of its best centers -- despite never playing the position in college.

"The most remarkable thing about Rich was not who he was as a player, but who he was as a person," Olsen said.

More to come.