The following game was played with a homebrewed version of the 1958 season created by David Gray (available for FREE download at David’s website: BackToMinnesota.com)
LOS ANGELES – Nearly 70,000 spectators were on hand at the LA Coliseum to watch Tommy Wilson of the LA Rams receive the opening kick of the 1958 NFL season. Wilson caught the kick at the 1 yard line and returned the ball 92 yards before being dragged down at the Browns’ 8. Less than one minute later the Rams led 7-0 and never looked back.
Rams Halfback Jon Arnett was the brightest star on the gridiron today, gaining 50 yards on the ground and adding 57 receiving yards, 3 touchdowns and 90 yards on returns.
The Browns were hamstrung early in the second quarter when their halfback, last year’s Rookie of the Year and arguably the best player in the NFL, Jim Brown suffered a leg injury that sidelined him for the rest of the game. At the time of his injury (11:45 to go in the 2nd), Brown already had 9 attempts for 49 yards on the ground. Brown’s replacement, Bobby Mitchell, tallied 11 attempts for 70 yards rushing on the day.
The loss of the Cleveland star may not have been the cause of the result, however. The Rams may have had this game in their pocket all along. Though he didn’t lose either of them, Jim Brown had already fumbled twice before he left the game and the Browns finished with five turnovers (four interceptions and a lost fumble) to the Rams one (an interception). This was the disparity that ultimately proved the difference.
The 1958 NFL season was a great turning point for the league. Recently departed Frank Gifford’s book The Glory Game: How the 1958 NFL Championship Changed Football Forever is the definitive text on the season, and is a book that no one with an interest in the history of the league should miss reading.