They say speed kills.
If that's true, then St. Louis went on a serial Rampage in 1999.
Given the rather fitting moniker "The Greatest Show on Turf," those Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams revolutionized the modern offensive attack, snatching up both points and victories along the way. Taking a bullet train ride directly to the top of the NFL, they moved the ball with video game-like precision.
After putting the pedal firmly to the floor, the Rams zoomed to a 13-3 record and went on to win one of the most dramatic Super Bowls of all-time. While the key word of their season was GO, the biggest play of the year was a STOP by Mike Jones to clinch the Lombardi Trophy.
The lore of the team is well documented, from a former grocery bagger-turned-MVP quarterback, Kurt Warner, to a blue chip offensive lineman, Orlando Pace. Receivers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt confounded cornerbacks, while Marshall Faulk re-wrote the history books in terms of backfield versatility.
They were definitely hooked on the high octane offense, but their defense can't be overlooked, either. The guys on the other side of the equation, like Grant Wistrom and D'Marco Farr, played championship caliber football, as well. Often leading late in games, the Rams' rush defenders could pin their ears back and target the quarterback. Sometimes it was Kevin Carter registering one of the team's 76 sacks, or maybe a run stuffing tackle by London Fletcher that sealed a St.Louis win.
A modern day Cinderella story, the Rams had gone a miserable 5-11 and 4-12 the previous two seasons, respectively. They came together in 1999 to forge one of the greatest seasons in history. And even though they've now gone their separate ways, The Greatest Show on Turf still hasn't slowed down. Here's what some key names on the team are up to today:
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15 D'Marco Farr
The bombastic D'Marco Farr was a contrast in style to some of the more low-key players on the Rams roster. A self-professed lover of pro wrestling and a hilarious trash talker, it was only natural that he would make the transition to television and entertainment.
In his NFL career, Farr collected 36.5 sacks, three interceptions, and one Pro Bowl appearance. After retiring from the league in 2001, he became one of the hosts of the wildly successful Fox Sports vehicle, "The Best Damn Sports Show Ever."
After leaving that television talk fest, Farr delved into sports radio. He co-hosted an afternoon show on the ESPN affiliate in St. Louis and served as the color commentator on Rams broadcasts.
With the Rams 2016 relocation back to Los Angeles, Farr returned to his native California roots to serve on their broadcast team. He occasionally makes special appearances as an analyst on national broadcasts, as well.
14 Ernie Conwell
Often lost in the conversation of the skill players is the Rams' unassuming tight end. A second round draft pick in 1996, the University of Washington product almost didn't have the chance to earn his championship ring. A near career-ending injury cost him part of the 1998 and '99 seasons. He returned in mid-season and found himself right in the thick of a Super Bowl run.
Usually given the leftovers on offense, Ernie Conwell was a capable third down receiver on a loaded team. A former three-sport star in high school, his versatility as a blocker and the intangibles he brought as a locker room leader made him a quiet piece of the championship puzzle.
Conwell would have his only championship success in St. Louis, before quietly ending his career in New Orleans. After his retirement, Conwell coached high school football in Tennessee for two years before taking a position as a player advocate in the NFL Players Association. In his duties, he works with player representatives on initiatives to make the game safer.
13 Jeff Wilkins
Jeff Wilkins' leg got a whole lot of work in 1999. As the guy kicking the extra points on all those touchdowns, he knew that he could be rushing onto the field at any moment after a quick Rams' score. Add in the fact that he went 20-28 on field goals (71.4%) to go along with those league-leading 64 XPs, and you can see that Wilkins had a busy year.
Wilkins originally made his name as the starting kicker for the NFC West rival San Francisco 49ers before jumping ship and signing with the Rams in 1997. Wilkins would spend 11 of his 14 NFL seasons in St. Louis, winning his only Super Bowl there. He would retire after the 2007 season with an 81.9% kicking rate and 1,416 points. He holds the franchise record in scoring, and also set a team record with six field goals in one game, against the Broncos on the opening weekend of 2006.
Currently, Jeff Wilkins and his wife, Tina, live in Canfield, Ohio, with their three daughters, although they still visit St. Louis annually. Wilkins enjoys deer hunting on the family's 85-acre property, and continues to be involved in the community.
12 Kevin Carter
Kevin Carter, the physical phenom from the University of Florida, was the sixth overall pick in the 1995 draft by the Rams. He realized his full potential during the Super Bowl season when he registered 19 sacks at the the defensive end position, including one in the title game against the Titans.
Carter would finish with 104.5 total sacks in a 14-year career with the Rams, Tennesse, Miami, and Tampa Bay. He was inducted into The University of Florida Hall of Fame in 2004. Carter also established an student endowment program at his alma mater after his entrance to the pros.
In 2002, he and his wife, Shima, established the Kevin Carter Foundation. The focus of the organization is on youth and character development. Every year, Carter hosts the "Waiting for Wishes" celebrity dinner, an event to raise funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
11 Mike Martz
The sick genius behind the Rams' electric offense, Mad Mike would succeed Dick Vermeil as the head coach not long after the confetti fell for their Super Bowl parade. There were rumors that the organization pressured the old ball coach to step aside, for fear that they would lose their up-and-coming coordinator to another franchise.
Martz went 53-32 in his bizarre tenure as the captain of the Rams' ship. Plagued by infighting and health problems, Martz was fired in 2006. Despite a few stops as an offensive coordinator, he has never been hired for another head coaching position. His career coaching highlight was leading the Rams to a 14-2 record in 2001, before running into The Emergence of Tom Brady in Super Bowl XXXVI .
Martz, now 65, is living in California and is a FOX Sports commentator. He is still interested in coaching again, although his name has not been mentioned recently for any vacancies. With a career winning percentage of .624 and a reputation for excitement, there may be some team, some day, that gives this mad scientist another shot.
10 Grant Wistrom
A Missouri native and Nebraska alum, Grant Wistrom fit right in when he arrived to the gateway city in 1998. Selected by the Rams as the sixth overall pick of the draft, he was the Rams defensive Rookie of the Year.
In the Rams title season, he improved further with 33 tackles, 6.5 sacks, and a fumble recovery. His pairing with sack leader Kevin Carter proved to be one of the most effective combinations in the league.
Wistrom would go on to play in three Super Bowls, two with the Rams and one in 2005 with Seattle. But, 1999 would be his only victory in the title game. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009. Upon retirement, he was briefly an assistant coach for a high school in Springfield, MO.
He formed The Grant Wistrom Foundation in 2002. The organization says that its goal is to allow pediatric cancer patients to have the same opportunities that healthy kids do. Now 40, he is also heavily involved in the Seattle Seahawks Community Outreach Program.
9 Dre Bly
During his collegiate career at North Carolina, Dre Bly was known for his big play ability. As a redshirt freshman, he grabbed 11 interceptions for the Tarheels, and went on to become a two time All-American. As a rookie second round pick in 1999, he showed flashes of that same brilliance, as he eased into the starting lineup.
One of the few players on defense who could match his offensive teammates in the speed department, Bly had three interceptions in that '99 season, including one for a score. Bly would play three more seasons with the Rams, emerging as one of their best defensive players before signing as a free agent with Detroit in 2003.
Now an ACC Hall of Famer, Bly has settled into retirement in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he is a youth coach and trainer. He has four sons and a daughter.
8 Trent Green
When Trent Green, St. Louis' prized free agent quarterback, went down with a pre-season knee injury at the hands of New England's Rodney Harrison, Rams fans had to feel snakebitten. After an offseason filled with anticipation, Green would be sidelined and the keys to the team would be in the hands of some guy wearing a name tag... Literally.
The rest is history. It was a year that was supposed to be a homecoming for the St. Louis native. Instead, he watched as the season ended up becoming Kurt Warner's coming out party.
Undaunted, Green accepted a backup role upon his return, before shuffling off to Kansas City. There, he reunited with Vermeil and passed for over 4,000 yards in 2003. Mimicking much of the Rams strategy, the Chiefs scored early and often, with Green making the Pro Bowl in 2003 and 2005.
Following a stopover in Miami, he eventually returned to the Rams for a season and retired in 2009.
After doing work as an analyst for FOX and Westwood One, Green was hired as a studio analyst by CBS in 2014.
7 Orlando Pace
This big man drafted number one overall by the Rams couldn't have come to the franchise at a better time. The Ohio State behemoth had amazingly just finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy balloting as an offensive lineman. The Big O clearly graded out as one the best blocking prospects ever, and he didn't disappoint when he put on the Blue and Gold.
In a Hall of Fame career that spanned seasons, the 6'7" 335 lb. Orlando Pace was at or near the top of the rankings as one of the best pass protectors in the league. He starred for the Rams from 1997-2008 before one last season in Chicago in 2009.
After retiring, Pace invested in several business opportunities, including a St. Louis radio station, TITLE Boxing, a handful of rental properties and a bar called "Big O's LTD." in his hometown of Sandusky, Ohio. Pace has mentioned in the past that he's considered coaching, but has yet to seek a position with an NFL team.
6 Torry Holt
Torry Holt was the prize pick of the Rams 1999 draft.
The first-round choice out of North Carolina State was the perfect tag team partner for veteran Isaac Bruce. His 788 yards and six touchdowns in his rookie campaign were a sign of things to come for the man that would earn the nickname "Big Game." The speedy pair caused matchup problems with their lightning speed and laser-like route running during the '99 season.
After emerging as a force in his own right, Holt began establishing himself in the team's record book. He finished his 11-years as a Ram with 12,660 yards and 74 TDs before retiring after one season with the Carolina Panthers.
Today, he is the Vice President of Holt Brothers Construction with his brother and former NFL player, Terrence. The company is based in Raleigh, NC. The brothers also have a charitable foundation that supports children who have parents with cancer. Torry Holt has discussed an interest in potentially pursuing music and broadcasting, as well.
5 London Fletcher
The firecracker middle linebacker will go down in history as one of the most durable players in the history of league. Playing in 15 seasons, he racked up 1796 tackles. On top of that, he was indestructible. London Fletcher set the NFL record for most consecutive starts at the linebacker position (215). Some observers argue that those numbers warrant a mention for a possible spot in Canton.
Since being the watchdog of the Rams defense, Fletcher made stops in Buffalo and Washington before retiring in 2013. The diminutive tackler (listed at 5'10") was recognized by his teammates as a fierce competitor and loyal leader. He had 39 career sacks and was voted two four pro bowls.
Fletcher is currently an analyst for the CBS Sports Network. He and his wife, Charne, have three children.
4 Dick Vermeil
Pour the wine.
A fine lover of the grapes, Dick Vermeil mixed up the right formula in vindicating his return to the NFL. As the poster boy for coaching burnout, Vermeil had disappeared to the broadcast booth for 14 years, before being chosen out of nowhere to lead the team. After two awful seasons, Vermeil's Rams gave him the title that barely eluded him during his tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Vermeil announced he was stepping down shortly after the victory, only to return later with the Kansas City Chiefs. Once again, he coached with the usual passion, and the Chiefs offense put up similar high scores.
A favorite of his players and a bona fide legend in all three cities in which he's coached, Vermeil has been involved in the wine making business for years. His 'garage cabernet' was an instant hit in Napa Valley, and he says that he is as passionate about wine as he is about football.
Dick Vermeil recently turned 80 years old and continues to do public speaking and appearances. He and his family split time between their homes in Kansas City and Philadelphia.
3 Isaac Bruce
For several years, this cerebral speedster was quietly one of the best players in the NFL. His ridiculous sophomore effort saw him hang over 1700 yards receiving on the stat board, while the Rams played some of the league's worst football. It seemed that the organization might waste the best years of the Reverend Ike's career until 1999 came calling. No player benefited more from the arrival of Holt and Faulk, as well as the emergence of Warner.
Isaac Bruce went on to catch 15,208 yards and 91 TDs in his career and cemented his legacy as one of the Rams' all-time elite. An interview snafu during the week of Super Bowl press conferences may have put a damper on his 1999 christening, but he emerged unscathed to eventually grab what proved to be the game-winning touchdown from Warner.
Today, he's involved with his own charity, the Isaac Bruce Foundation, which focuses on educational opportunities and promoting fitness and healthy lifestyles. Bruce has also said that he would be interested in pursuing part ownership of an NFL franchise in the future.
2 Kurt Warner
If Disney could create a football player, it would be Kurt Warner. From supermarket to Super Bowl, there has probably never been a long shot quite like him.
Now that the story of his improbable career has been told, the two-time league MVP will now sit back and wonder if his body of work is Hall of Fame worthy. After putting together three of the finest seasons ever under center, he suffered a thumb injury. Giving way to Marc Bulger, Warner was deemed expendable by the Rams when his hand problems became chronic. His exit from St. Louis was mired in controversy, with even his wife, Brenda, getting entangled in the mess.
After helping groom Eli Manning for two years in New York, Warner re-emerged in the desert. He led the Arizona Cardinals to Super Bowl XLIII, his third appearance, ultimately falling to the Steelers, 27-23.
Known for his laid-back persona, Warner is considered one the 'nice guys' around the NFL. His extensive charity work includes his First Things First Foundation, which he says is rooted in his devout Christian faith. Since 2010, Warner has worked for the NFL Network as a studio analyst.
1 Marshall Faulk
Marshall, Marshall, Marshall.
Say his name three times and he just might show up to run, catch or maybe even throw. After establishing himself as an elite running back in Indianapolis, the Colts gift-wrapped the NFL's greatest weapon in a trade to St. Louis for a second and fifth round pick. What came next was one of the most remarkable statistical seasons in history.
1999 was a year that saw Marshall Faulk eclipse the 1000 yard mark in both rushing and receiving, a feat that had only been accomplished by Roger Craig in 1986. He not only went on to become the catalyst for The Greatest Show on Turf, but also be recognized as one of the smartest players in the game.
The former San Diego State star may have quit playing, but he has never stepped away from the game. Faulk slid into the broadcast booth almost as effortlessly as he slid between defenders. He is currently an analyst for the NFL Network, and was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2011.
17 years after winning the Super Bowl on January 30th, 2000, the fastest team in the history of the NFL still hasn't slowed down. It will be interesting to see what the members of The Greatest Show On Turf will have in store for us in the years to come.
After all, life after football is a marathon... not a sprint.
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