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On This Date in Sports July 14, 1972: Swapping Teams

In collaboration with the Sportsescyclopedia.com

In an unusual move, the owners of the Baltimore Colts and Los Angeles Rams swap franchises. The move has no effect on players or coaches, and the teams continue to operate as they had previously; only the owners and front office had changed. Robert Irsay had recently purchased the Rams for $19 million from the estate of Dan Reeves. He took over the Colts after, Carroll Rosenbloom after years of squabbling with the City, decided he wanted out of Baltimore. The move was made in a way that neither owner would owe any taxes. 

Dale Carroll Rosenbloom was born in Baltimore on March 5, 1907. The son of a successful clothier from Poland, Rosenbloom played football at Penn for Bert Bell, who later became the Commissioner of the NFL. After initially working for his father, Rosenbloom saved several companies during the depression and found his own success. In 1953, at the urging of Bell, Carroll Rosenbloom became the owner of a new NFL team in Baltimore, named the Colts, after an initial team that had played in the AAFC. Under Rosebloom's leadership, the Colts became one of the NFL's most successful franchises with two World Championships, and victory in Super Bowl V, coming after their historic loss in Super Bowl III. 

The Los Angeles Rams were in a state of flux in 1971, after Dan Reeves had owned the team since it moved from Cleveland in 1946. The Rams were put up for sale and purchased by Robert Irsay for $19 million, who had outbid Hugh Culverhouse by $2 million. Culverhouse later received an expansion team named the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976. Irsay was born on March 5, 1923, in Chicago. He had run a successful heating and ventilation business in the midwest for years. 

Don Klosterman accompanied Rosenbloom to Los Angeles, becoming General Manager of the Rams. The Rams continued the success of the Colts, winning seven consecutive division titles to close out the 1970s. The Colts, meanwhile, fell into disrepair. They would make three playoff appearances but soon became one of the worst teams in the NFL. Irsay would often berate his players after bad games and had a reputation for making impulsive decisions. 

Carroll Rosenbloom would make a deal to move the Rams from Los Angeles to Anaheim, with the expansion of Anaheim Stadium set for 1980. He would not live to see the deal come to fruition, as he died in a growing accident in 1979. His wife, Georgia Frontiere, took over and would move the Rams to St. Louis in 1995. Robert Irsay meanwhile had a tempestuous relationship with the City of Baltimore. As the Colts struggled off the field, Irsay demanding a new stadium followed through on a threat to move the team and snuck the Colts out of Baltimore and on to Indianapolis in 1984. The Rams would return to Los Angeles in 2016, while the Colts did not find success again until Robert Irsay had passed away, with the team moving on to his son Jim. The NFL would return to Baltimore when the Ravens were formed out of a deal with the Cleveland Browns.