5) Steven Jackson, RB, 2004-2012. The Rams’ all-time leading rusher amassed 10,135 yards, many of those with sub-par teams that didn’t come close to making the playoffs. Jackson was drafted in the first round by the Rams in 2004 and became the starting running back in 2005, replacing Marshall Faulk. While those were big shoes to fill, Jackson carried the load admirably – toting the football a record 2,395 times, or 870 more carries than Eric Dickerson had as a Ram. Jackson was a physical, punishing runner who could turn on the jets in open space. He’s one of those players that will be appreciated more with time, certainly after his playing career is over.
4) Orlando Pace, OT, 1997-2008. The Greatest Show On Turf doesn’t function without great offensive linemen – and no one did it better during his era than “Big O,” who flattened would-be tacklers and protected Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger for years as the Rams’ left tackle. All you really need to know is that Pace blocked for three straight NFL MVP’s from 1999-2001: Warner (’99, ‘01) and Marshall Faulk (’00). I recall attending Faulk’s Hall of Fame enshrinement and seeing the pride on Pace’s face as No. 28 was honored. Mark it down: the Ohio native will join Faulk in Canton soon.
3) Isaac Bruce, WR, 1994-2007. Before his electrifying, game-winning touchdown catch in Super Bowl XXXIV, before his amazing trio of TD’s in the first quarter (four total in the game) against the 49ers in the ’99 season, even before offensive coordinator Mike Martz turned him loose with Torry Holt…there was Bruce’s record season that may never be broken. In 1995, the franchise’s first year in St. Louis, Bruce caught 119 passes for 1,781 yards and 13 touchdowns. One of the great route runners of all time, Bruce was seemingly always open, thanks to a strong work ethic and over-preparation. An underrated part of his game: Bruce was an outstanding blocker, never giving up on a play. He is the Rams’ all-time leader in receptions (942) and receiving yards (14,109).
2) Kurt Warner, QB, 1998-2003. The legendary story, which will someday soon be made into a movie, is known throughout sports. Warner, who stocked shelves at an Iowa grocery store, beat all odds by emerging from the Arena League to eventually move up the depth chart with the Rams as a backup quarterback. When Trent Green suffered a season-ending knee injury in the 1999 preseason, coach Dick Vermeil cried: “We will rally around Kurt Warner…and we will play good football.” For the next three seasons, Warner did that and then some. He led arguably the most potent offense in NFL history, recording three straight 500-point seasons, going to two Super Bowls and winning two NFL MVP’s. In the Rams’ championship season in 1999, Warner threw for 4,353 yards and an astonishing 41 touchdowns. His second MVP season in 2001 is another one of the all-timers: 4,830 yards, 36 touchdowns and a 68.7 completion percentage.
1) Marshall Faulk, RB, 1999-2006. As good as Warner was at quarterback, Faulk was truly the player that made the Greatest Show go. The 1999 trade from the Colts to the Rams is one of the greatest swaps in NFL history, with the Rams giving up only a 2nd and 5th-rounder to get one of the best all-purpose backs of all-time. They won a championship that season, with Faulk setting an NFL record with 2,429 yards from scrimmage. Possessing speed, agility and tremendous vision, Faulk was a defensive coordinator’s nightmare. On the ground that season, he piled up 1,381 yards; through the air it was 1,048. Faulk’s MVP year was in 2000, when he set an NFL record with 26 touchdowns. But of all of his flash and dash, blitz pick-ups and general leadership, there is one game that stands out from the 2001 season. With the clock ticking down in the NFC Championship game against the Eagles, it was Faulk who carried the ball – again and again – to out-muscle Philadelphia’s defense and secure another Super Bowl berth for the Rams. For his stellar career, Faulk was the first from the Greatest Show to make it to Canton.
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)