1961 Rams defensive backs
July 20, 1961: “Crazy Legs,” better known as Elroy Hirsch, Los Angeles Rams general manager, dazzles defensive backs with a flash of his oldtime form during camera day at Rams training camp at Redlands University. Trying to tackle the boss are, from left: Lindon Crow, Charlie Britt, Clendon Thomas, Ed Meador and Vernon Valdez.
Larry Sharkey’s photo appeared in the July 21, 1961, Los Angeles Times. Staff writer Mal Florence also reported that day:
REDLANDS-The Rams defensive backfield, once a sick, sick joke in the National Football League, is on the verge of becoming the best specialty group of its kind.
Cornerman Ed Meadow is the lone regular survivor of the 1959 pass patrol which accounted for only seven interceptions, an all-time club low.
The pass defense could only improve in 1960 and improve it did as Ram defenders (including linebackers) picked off 23 enemy passes.
“Off last year’s showing and an expected improvement, the deep secondary should be even better this year,” said coach Bob Waterfield.
Meador, the most underrated defensive back in the NFL, is joined at corner by Lindon Crow, a six-year veteran who should have his best season playing at home.
Safety man Charlie Britt topped the club with five interceptions as a rookie last season.
He’ll team with Clendon Thomas, a part-time defensive operator in other seasons, but a slot back in 1960.
Why Thomas instead of Ollie Matson, the Rams defensive hero in December and now a slot back?
“Matson is a stronger blocker and better runner coming back on reverse. Defensively Matson and Thomas are on par,” Waterfield explained.
Thomas himself believes he’ll do a better job settling down to one position.
There is no job security for this quartet. Others interested in the position are Vernon Valdez, a one-year veteran, and rookies Elbert Kimbrough (All-Star camp), Duane Allen and Alvin Hall.
The Rams will carry only five defensive backs, the odd-man swinging between corner and safety.
The cameramen took over the practice field Thursday.
But Waterfield will run the show today – feeding his troops a steady diet of 2-a-day drills, leading up to the Ram-Redskin Times Charity Game at the Coliseum on Aug. 11.
The 1961 Rams ended with a 4-10 record finishing sixth in the NFL West division. The defense made 23 interceptions in 1961.
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