Six months after the Rams packed up and left for Southern California, more than 40 former St. Louis Rams players and coaches took to the field Saturday at their former home for a flag football game.
Former wide receiver Isaac Bruce organized the event at the Edward Jones Dome, with proceeds benefiting his foundation, which works to teach St. Louis youth the importance of education and a healthy lifestyle. Bruce brought his former teammates together to thank the fans for their support after owner Stan Kroenke moved the franchise to Los Angeles on Jan. 12 following 21 years in St. Louis.
"It exceeded my expectations, man," Bruce said. "You've got friends, they're still hanging around. It was great. They had a good time."
For many of the players, it was a chance to relive memories of an era known as The Greatest Show on Turf, from 1999-2004, which saw the team make two Super Bowl appearances, winning the NFL championship in 1999.
"You're right back in the locker room," said former defensive tackle D'Marco Farr, who played in St. Louis from 1995-2000. "No matter how long you've been gone, no matter how long you haven't been teammates, once you get together, you're teammates again."
Dick Vermeil, who coached the team in the 1999 Super Bowl, and Mike Martz, who coached the team in the 2002 Super Bowl, returned to lead the squads along with former assistants Al Saunders and Jim Hanifan.
"It was such a classy thing for the St. Louis people to do because it could have been just the opposite," Vermeil said. "In a way, the Rams have given them a reason not to like us anymore, but they came back and really showed class. I think everybody really appreciates it and I think they still appreciate us."
More than 10,000 fans attended the event.
At halftime, former All Pro offensive tackle Orlando Pace was honored for his upcoming enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
"He was the MVP of what we were doing," Bruce said. "So I was honored to honor him here at halftime."
The Rams open training camp next week in Orange County with cautious optimism they can end their 11-year playoff drought in front of their next generation of LA fans. Even late-season contention for a postseason berth would be an enormous boost for a team that did almost nothing to inspire passion over its final dozen years in Missouri.