Both broke a number of records and eventually went to the Hall of Fame despite only sharing the Rams starting job during those seasons.
FIRST there was Buckets, Bob Waterfield. And then the Dutchman,Norm Van Brocklin.
And finally the two of them, equally sharing the game's most visible position and creating the most explosive offense in the history of the National Football League, one that set records like 735 yards in a game.
In the 1945 NFL Championship Game, Bob Waterfield threw 37- and 44-yard touchdown passes to lead the Cleveland Rams to a 15-14 victory over the Washington Redskins.
That capped a season in which he was a unanimous All-NFL choice, and became the first rookie ever to win the league's Most Valuable Player.
Early in 1946, the Rams moved to Los Angeles. As the Rams quarterback and later splitting time with Norm Van Brocklin.
Waterfield took the team to three straight title games, 1949-1951. The Rams won it all in 1951 with a 24-17 win over the Cleveland Browns in the title game.
As a passer, Waterfield was known for his ability to throw deep. He led the National Football League in passing in 1946 and 1951, finishing with career totals of 814 completions, 11,849 yards gained and 97 touchdown passes.
He was named first- or second-team All-NFL five times. One of the game's most versatile players, he was also an ace defensive back for his first four seasons, a top punter with a 42.4 yard average, and a deadly place kicker.
In eight seasons he totaled 573 points on 13 touchdowns, 315 PATs and 60 field goals.
For the next seven seasons, the Rams were pro football's most feared offensive team and
Waterfield was the brilliant field general and precision passer who put points on the scoreboard.
Always calm against even the greatest odds, he often led his team to come-from-behind victories.
In one 1948 game, the Rams fell behind eventual league champion Philadelphia 28-0. Waterfield rallied his team to a tie on four late touchdown passes.
Waterfield proved to be a determined competitor in the pros. In the 1950 divisional playoff, although he was unable to practice all week because of the flu, he came off the bench and threw three touchdown passes in a 24-14 win over the Chicago Bears.
NORM VAN BROCKLIN
Norm Van Brocklin was a standout quarterback for 12 seasons in the National Football League, the first nine with the Los Angeles Rams.
Then he was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1958 and, within three years, the Dutchman had guided the Eagles to the NFL championship.
Without a doubt it was his finest performance in a brilliant career.
One of the most colorful and competitive individuals that pro football has ever seen, Van Brocklin blazed a sometimes stormy, but always eventful path in his dozen campaigns as an active player.
Norm left the University of Oregon, where he still had a year's eligibility remaining, to join the Rams in 1949.
The only problem, from Van Brocklin's standpoint, was that the Rams already had one future Hall of Fame quarterback in Bob Waterfield.
The net result was that two great quarterbacks had to share passing duties for a few seasons, a situation that any great competitor, which Norm certainly was, couldn't be expected to accept with any enthusiasm.
Still, Van Brocklin won the NFL passing title in both 1950 and 1952, even though he was playing only half of the time on offense. He added a third passing championship in 1954.
His greatest day as a passer came in 1951 when he threw for a record 554 yards against the New York Yanks.
It was also in 1951 that Van Brocklin threw a 73-yard pass to Tom Fears that gave the Rams a 24-17 victory over the Browns and the only NFL title the Rams had won since moving to Los Angeles.
In Philadelphia he was given a free hand at running the offensive show, and behind his leadership the Eagles won the NFL title in 1960. Thus, the Dutchman was the only man to defeat a Lombardi-coached Green Bay team in championship game play.
In a crucial game midway into the 1951 NFL season, the Los Angeles Rams found themselves trailing the Chicago Bears, 14-0, and deep in a hole on their own 9-yard line.
Quarterback Bob Waterfield faked a handoff, stepped back a few paces and threw far downfield.
Elroy Hirsch took off at the snap and was running full-throttle at midfield. Waterfield's pass was over his head but Elroy gathered in the ball on his fingertips and raced for a 91-yard touchdown.
The Rams went on to an important 42-17 victory.
It was a patented "Elroy Hirsch special," a sizzling shocker that was repeated 17 times that year.
Besides his 91-yard bomb, Elroy had numerous other long-yardage touchdowns as he established a new league record at the time of 1,495 yards receiving.
It wasn' t just the number of long-gainers but the way he did the job that set Hirsch apart from all others. "Crazylegs" had a unique running style that made him famous.
When running downfield, his muscular legs seemed to gyrate in six different directions at once. Pro football success did not come easily to Hirsch, even though he was an All-America halfback at both Wisconsin and Michigan before he joined the Chicago Rockets of the new
All-America Football Conference (AAFC) in 1946. Hirsch described his three seasons in Chicago as "frightful."
When his AAFC contract expired, Hirsch happily joined the Rams. After a year spent mostly on the bench in 1949, Elroy was shifted to end. Not familiar with playing end, he initially struggled.
However, hard work eventually paid off and, a year later, he became a primary contributor to the Rams' impressive march to the NFL title. Many observers insisted Crazylegs was the best end ever but Hirsch modestly downgraded his own case.
"I'm just a busted-down, retreaded halfback who happened to get lucky."
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