Talk of Fame Network
For an all-too-brief and shining moment, the St. Louis Rams were one of the elite teams in the NFL.
They went to two Super Bowls in three years and boasted so many stars on offense that they were named "The Greatest Show on Turf," with two players (running back Marshall Faulk and tackle Orlando Pace) in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and three others (quarterback Kurt Warner and wide receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce) among the 26 semifinalists for the Class of 2017.
But their shelf life was short. After 2001 they never went to another Super Bowl, and after 2003 they never won another division title.
So what happened? Good question. Why no more league championships? Better question. And it's one we posed to Holt when he appeared on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast.
"I say the same thing now," he said when asked. "I think back on that second Super Bowl that we lost to the Patriots. We had an opportunity to win two. I thought with the talent that we had and the coaching staff that we had we should’ve played in at least four Super Bowls.
"But things happen. Free agency, egos, all kinds of things started to happen within our organization that got us divided. Guys started to go other ways, and coaches started to go other ways. And then we had some draft picks that we were counting on to come in and play more at a high level that didn’t do that. I think that sets you back.
"You have first-round draft picks that don’t pan out that sets any team back, and that’s what happened to us. And then, over time, guys just started to get older. I got older. Isaac got older. Marshall got older. He ended up retiring. Kurt moved on to New York and Arizona. (Former linebacker) London Fletcher, who was a big part of what we did there in St. Louis, moved on to other teams. So guys just moved on. And I think that hurt the dynamic of our football team.
"It was very frustrating because of the type of talent that we had on that roster and the good intention that they had in order to play the game and the unselfishness that we had on that squad. We should have gotten to the Super Bowl at least four times and had an opportunity to win three out of the four … if not all four.
"That’s how good I thought we were as a ballclub. That’s how good our coaching staff was. and that’s how well we prepared ourselves to go out on Sundays and win. Just, unfortunately, we were not able to do that."
Don’t blame Holt. He was one of the NFL's top receivers for years, so good that he was named to the 2000's all-decade team after becoming the first player in league history to string together six seasons of 1,300 yards or more receiving.
He finished an 11-year career with an astounding 920 receptions, including eight consecutive years with at least 81, and ranks 20th on the career receiving list. But while he's been a Hall-of-Fame semifinalist his first three years of eligibility he has yet to crack the top 15.
So what are voters missing? Holt told us.
"For me," he said, "what stands out is the level of consistency with which I played the game from the time I was drafted by the St. Louis Rams to the time I ended my career with the Jacksonville Jaguars. I was still averaging 14.8 to 15 yards a catch when I, quote-unquote, I didn’t have any juice left. But I was still able to show a level of consistency throughout my career.
"Also, I was able to play on teams that won conference championships. I was also able to play on teams that went to two Super Bowls. We won one and lost one. I was part of a group of guys that was able to bring a championship to the city of St. Louis, along with consistency in playing the game.
"And then you look at the numbers that I put up in just an 11-year span ... you look at some of these guys, and they are playing 15 or 16 years, and it's taken them that long to do what I did in nine or 10 years. So very productive for what some would say was a short period of time."
(Torry Holt photos courtesy L.A. Rams)