The Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams are well represented among the 25 finalists for the 2014 class for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The list announced Wednesday includes former Los Angeles Rams, LB Kevin Greene and RB Jerome Bettis, as well as CB Aeneas Williams, who finished his career in St. Louis.
Kevin Greene was the Los Angeles Rams' fifth round draft pick in 1985 out of Auburn. Greene emerged as a pass rush specialist in his second year before moving into a full time role at outside linebacker in 1988. He recorded nearly half of his 160 career sacks while a member of the Rams.
Greene moved on to Pittsburgh in 1993 and helped guide the Steelers to the Super Bowl in 1995. He finished his career with the Carolina Panthers, helping mentor a young defense that made it to the NFC Championship Game in only its second year of existence. Greene is third all-time on the NFL's career sack list and second in Rams' franchise history behind only Leonard Little.
Jerome Bettis will better be remembered as "The Bus" who drove the Pittsburgh Steelers to two Super Bowl titles, but his career started with the Rams when they chose him 10th overall in the first round of the 1993 draft out of Notre Dame. Bettis rushed for over 1000 yards in two of his three seasons with the Rams. His last season with the Rams was the franchise's first in St. Louis.
Bettis was much more of a pass catcher out of the backfield for the Rams, setting his career highs for receptions and receiving yardage while with the Rams. The Rams traded Bettis to Pittsburgh after his third season when then head coach Rich Brooks thought Bettis would be a better fit as a fullback in his offense. He became Bill Cowher's bell cow in Pittsburgh, becoming known as "The Closer" for his ability to move the chains in the fourth quarter to salt away leads. Bettis is currently the sixth all-time leading rusher in NFL history.
Aeneas Williams got his start with the Bidwill family in Arizona where he became one of the NFL's best cover corners. Williams came to St. Louis in a 2001 draft day trade. He played mostly safety while with the Rams and was a key component of the team's Super Bowl run in 2001. Williams had three interceptions in the 2001 post season, including two pick-sixes against Brett Favre and the Packers. His interception of Donovan McNabb in the NFC Championship game sent the Rams to Super Bowl XXXVI. Williams would enjoy only one other full season with the Rams, and injuries finally ended his career in 2005.
The late Don Coryell is also among the finalists. Coryell coached the St. Louis Cardinals from 1973 to 1977 accumulating a record of 42-27-1 and taking them to the playoffs twice. He's best remembered as the architect of the "Air Coryell" offense in San Diego with Dan Fouts and Kellen Winslow.
The five members of the Hall of Fame Class of 2014 will be announced on February 1.
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