Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Duke of Del Rey

Don Klosterman served as General Manager for the Los Angeles Rams from 1972 through the early '80's. Before that he worked for the Oilers, Chargers, Chiefs, and Colts. Those facts, and the sum total of everything else I know about the late Mr. Klosterman, including the fact that his nickname was "The Duke of Del Rey", are to be found at this nice tribute page to the man.

I bring up Mr. Klosterman because in the course of doing the research for my previous post I discovered something interesting about him: the guy was some kind of super football genius! The series of trades he pulled off between 1973 and 1976 have to rank as some of the greatest in NFL history. It's really incredible once you take a close look at his moves.

In 1973, Klosterman traded away DL Coy Bacon and RB Bob Thomas to the Chargers for our boy: QB John Hadl. Now the Rams already had a QB, Roman Gabriel, "The World's Biggest Filipino", and he was none too happy about losing his job. So the Rams traded the now-expendable Gabriel to the Eagles for WR Harold Jackson, RB Tony Baker, two 1st-round picks, and a 3rd-rounder. Jackpot. With the three draft picks, Klosterman took RB John "Something for Joey" Cappeletti, OT Dennis Harrah, and TE Dan Nugent. Baker and Nugent were pretty much busts and Cappeletti was a solid, but disappointing, contributor for 5 seasons. But Harrah made 6 Pro Bowls and Jackson was one of the best receivers of the '70's. I think when he retired he was second on the all-time receiving yards list. Now Gabriel played great for the Eagles in 1973, winning comeback player of the year honors. But who cared when Hadl has his best season ever, won the NFC Player of the Year award, and led the Rams to a 12-2 record and their first division title in 4 years? As we know from my brilliant "Worst Trade Ever" post, Hadl hit the wall after that last hurrah so the Rams wisely jettisoned his ass to the frozen tundra of Green Bay in '74. Klosterman managed to sucker the Pack out of two 1st round picks, two 2nd round picks, and a 3rd round pick for a guy the Rams benched. And Klosterman made the most of those picks, drafting DT Mike Fanning (solid 10-year vet), DB Monte Jackson (two-time Pro Bowler), DB Pat Thomas (two-time All Pro) and C Geoff Reece. In 1976, the Rams they traded Reece, a bust, for a 2d round pick they used to take for DB Nolan Cromwell (four-time Pro Bowler), and they traded away their other 1st-rounder for WR Ron Jessie (one-time Pro Bowler).

What did the Rams really lose in getting all these Pro Bowl players? Hadl made Rams fans forget Gabriel in 1973 and both guys were done after that. Bob Thomas never did anything after his trade either. Coy Bacon played 9 more seasons and earned Pro Bowl honors twice in that span so the Rams did lose one good player.

The final tally:

Lost: Coy Bacon
Acquired: Harold Jackson, Dennis Harrah, Monte Jackson, Pat Thomas, Nolan Cromwell, Ron Jessie and Mike Fanning.

Don Klosterman gave up one good player to get seven good players. Like I said, a super football genius!


Mike said...

This site rules!!

JB said...

The Pack got used that year by the Rams. They gave up that much for a 34-year old QB? I wouldn't give up that much for Peyton Manning. Speaking of the Mannings, I heard that GB almost traded for Archie instead, but Bobby Scott, his backup and replacement, got hurt.