Rams Corridor of Famer Jack Youngblood shares exceptional story of taking part in in Tremendous Bowl, Professional Bowl with damaged leg


After 9 years of climbing, Jack Youngblood had lastly reached the summit {of professional} soccer. With a damaged leg, no much less. 

Youngblood, who put collectively a Corridor of Fame profession as a member of the Los Angeles Rams from 1971-84, performed by means of three playoff video games with a damaged leg that included his lone Tremendous Bowl look. Youngblood did not cease there; he performed within the following week’s Professional Bowl, to the shock of his NFC teammates. 

“Everyone requested me once we obtained to Hawaii, ‘What the heck are you doing right here? You’ve got obtained a damaged tibia,'” Youngblood recalled throughout a current interview with CBS Sports activities. “I stated, ‘Shut up, I am not going to overlook this occasion.'” 

Youngblood led the NFL with 18 sacks in 1979, the yr the Rams lastly broke by means of after years of bitter playoff disappointment. Not many individuals figured the ’79 Rams can be a lot of a pressure, not after a 5-6 begin and dropping beginning quarterback Pat Haden for the yr with an harm. However the Rams, spearheaded by their protection in addition to a deep and gifted speeding assault, went on a four-game profitable streak to win their seventh consecutive division title. 

The NFC playoffs

Within the divisional spherical of the playoffs, the Rams had been in Dallas to face the Cowboys, the identical group that had blanked them, 28-0, within the earlier yr’s NFC Championship Recreation. Regardless of permitting the sport’s first factors on a security, the Rams took a 14-5 halftime lead over the defending two-time convention champions. However within the midst of the Rams’ comeback, Youngblood sustained an harm that in some ways would outline his profession. Youngblood realized the seriousness of his harm upon assembly with group physician Clarence Shields. 

“He stated, ‘Jack, you have obtained a damaged leg,'” Youngblood recalled. “I stated, ‘Tape it up, Clarence. … I can nonetheless run, tape this dadgum factor up. He stated, ‘Jack, I do not know tape.’ My orthopedic physician does not know tape (laughs). I mess with him on a regular basis; love him to demise. I name him on a regular basis and we nonetheless snort about it.” 

Youngblood, along with his damaged left leg taped up, returned to the sector for the second half. He admitted that he wasn’t certain how efficient he can be in main a protection he captained. To his nice shock, Youngblood found that he might nonetheless make an influence, even in his compromised state. With Youngblood on the sector, the Rams held the Cowboys to only two second half scores and simply 19 factors for the sport. Youngblood helped seal the Rams’ 21-19 win with a sack of Staubach (who retired after the sport) within the ultimate moments. 

“It is superb what your physique will do to the ache that is infecting you,” Youngblood stated. “After I was strolling round within the huddle, going again to the road scrimmage after which lining up, it was painful. When the ball was snapped, the ache went away. I wasn’t 100%. I used to be in all probability 90, at greatest, however I knew that I wished to get after Roger Staubach. I do not like quarterbacks, by no means have (laughs). I really like Roger. He is an excellent man. However he was my competitor, proper? And me being the captain, I am the chief of this protection, this soccer group. And that was my job. And I wasn’t about to go sit on the sidelines as a result of I had one thing that I did not assume would would hinder me that a lot. I wasn’t about to go on the market if it was a damaged bone that had penetrated. I would not try this. However I nonetheless had the power to go and attempt to assist my group win the ballgame.” 

Keep in mind, this was the late ’70s/early ’80s, many years earlier than social media existed. Whereas whispers of his harm had been on the market, Youngblood’s standing was largely stored beneath wraps till after the Tremendous Bowl. Among the many first to know of Youngblood’s situation had been his teammates on the line of defense, gamers that included fellow Professional Bowlers Larry Brooks and Jim Youngblood (no relation) together with Mike Fanning and Fred Dryer. 

“I advised them, ‘You guys have gotten to select it up. If I mess up right here, you guys have gotten to assist out,'” Youngblood recalled. “If someone had some type of a lesser capacity, we knew that we wanted to crank up our engine a bit more durable, and canopy his duty.”

With an additional plastic pad defending the damaged a part of his leg, Youngblood confronted the Cinderella Buccaneers within the NFC Championship Recreation. Youngblood and his defensive teammates shut out Tampa, whereas the Rams’ operating sport did sufficient to assist Los Angeles punch its ticket to Tremendous Bowl XIV. 

Going through the Steelers within the Tremendous Bowl

The Rams felt a “massive launch” upon profitable the NFC, Youngblood stated, however they weren’t merely intent to share professional soccer’s largest stage with the Steelers, the defending champions who had gained three of three of the earlier 5 Tremendous Bowls. 

“We had all the arrogance that we will we will play with with Pittsburgh, regardless that they’d been the champions 3 times earlier than,” Youngblood stated. “We firmly believed we might cease the run, get after [Terry] Bradshaw and we might cowl [Lynn] Swann and [John] Stallworth. And to be trustworthy with you, we harm ourselves. They did not harm us. We knocked one another down on two touchdowns. We had double protection, and so they scored 14 factors on these two performs.” 

The performs Youngblood referred to had been the distinction between a Rams upset and the Steelers’ fourth Tremendous Bowl win. Forward 13-10 at halftime, the Rams fell behind after Bradshaw began the second half with a 47-yard landing strike to Swann, who caught the ball between two Rams defenders. The Rams shortly regained the lead and seemed to be on their approach to victory after Swann left the sport with a concussion. Los Angeles intercepted Bradshaw twice within the third quarter and had all however shut down Pittsburgh’s vaunted operating sport. 

At the beginning of the fourth quarter, going through a third-and-8 on his personal 27, Bradshaw known as a play he struggled to execute in observe. With Youngblood and Dryer bearing down on him, Bradshaw fired a deep cross to Stallworth, who pulled in Bradshaw’s cross in stride earlier than finishing the go-ahead rating. The Rams would threaten to re-gain the lead, however an interception by Jack Lambert gave the ball again to Pittsburgh, who put the sport away following one other lengthy completion from Bradshaw to Stallworth. 

These performs nonetheless hang-out Youngblood, however one explicit play, with the Rams main 19-17 with 9 minutes remaining within the third quarter, is particularly painful. Going through a first-and-10 from his personal 44, Bradshaw threw throughout the sector to Swann close to midfield. Nolan Cromwell, the Rams’ security, learn the play and stepped in entrance of Swann. For an ever-so-brief second, it regarded as if Cromwell had picked off Bradshaw and was sprinting to the top zone for a back-breaking rating. However Cromwell was unable to safe the ball, inflicting a close-by teammate to take off his helmet in exasperation.   

“I see it in my sleep typically,” Youngblood says of the play. 

Youngblood performed valiantly regardless of his damaged leg, which he remembers failing him on two separate events in the course of the sport. The Rams’ gritty efficiency that day led many to declare Tremendous Bowl XIV the very best Tremendous Bowl to that time. After the sport, a number of Steelers, exhausted after being pushed to the restrict for 60 minutes, went out of their approach to congratulate the Rams on a sport properly performed. 

“We knew in our hearts once we obtained again to the locker room that we had given all we had,” Youngblood stated. “We performed with the very best soccer group within the league at that time. We weren’t ashamed of that. Want we had made a few totally different performs, however we weren’t ashamed of our effort. That was for certain.” 

Following Tremendous Bowl XIV, one would assume that the very last thing Youngblood would need to do is play within the Professional Bowl, an occasion that’s presently in jeopardy of being discontinued. However for Youngblood, an opportunity to hang around along with his friends in Hawaii was precisely the place he wished to be. 

“Like I stated, it is a occasion,” Youngblood stated of the Professional Bowl. “I imply, we went by means of the season, and now it is time to let your hair down a bit bit. We do must exit and compete a bit bit. But it surely wasn’t practically as intense. It was a present. Let me put that away.” 

Profession after the harm

Youngblood’s leg ultimately healed, and he would go on to play 5 extra seasons with the Rams. Youngblood continued to play at a excessive stage, however the Rams by no means made it again to the large sport throughout his ultimate years with the group. Regardless of not capturing that elusive title, Youngblood relishes his years with the Rams. As a rookie, Youngblood discovered the ropes from Merlin Olsen and Deacon Jones, two of the very best defensive linemen in league annals. He spent most of his profession taking part in with the identical core of teammates, a rarity in in the present day’s NFL. 

“We had been like a bunch of brothers,” Youngblood stated of his Rams groups. “After I was there, we had 38 guys on this one little room. Our locker room was was nothing however laughter more often than not. We revered one another and appreciated one another’s skills. Like Jackie Slater and myself, we’d keep out after observe and we’d work collectively. I might ask him to simulate the sort out I’ll face, and he advised me what his defensive finish goes to do, and we labored for an additional 30, 40 minutes, each week. No matter their smartest thing was, we wished to take it away from them.” 

Youngblood possessed an inside fireplace throughout his taking part in days that mimicked what tens of millions of viewers noticed throughout ESPN’s 10-part documentary on Michael Jordan. Like Jordan, Youngblood performed with a mentality that willed him to do issues that mere mortals solely dream of. Within the 1979 NFL playoffs, that mentality helped him compete for a world championship, damaged leg be dammed. 

“When you do not need to be on that subject for each snap, there’s one thing about that that simply doesn’t sit properly with me,” Youngblood stated. “Should you’re the starter, in case you’re the very best protection finish, or the very best quarterback otherwise you’re the very best operating again, you need to be on the sector for each snap, not taking a number of performs off on the sidelines. You may’t do a lot on sidelines. 

“Typically, that is due to the coaches and doubtless among the trainers; they’re making an attempt to assist. The harm situation is an enormous deal. Let me simply put it that manner. It is a massive deal. And I used to be lucky sufficient to not miss one ballgame in 14 years. I used to be very, very lucky that the nice Lord blessed me with the power to make use of my capacity that he created in me another way that most individuals do not perceive.”



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