Former Rams great Rich Saul passed away on Sunday after a lengthy nine-year battle with leukemia. He was 64.
Originally an eighth-round pick by the Rams in the 1970 NFL Draft out of Michigan State, Saul would become one of the anchors of the team’s offensive line for the next dozen years.
Saul would go on to become one of the league’s best centers, earning Pro Bowl berths in each of his final six seasons, from 1975-1981. He also earned a reputation as a bit of an Iron Man, playing in more than 200 games, including 105 consecutive starts to close it out.
Along the way, Saul became a favorite of quarterbacks Vince Ferragamo and Roman Gabriel and was the focal point of the offensive line that helped the Rams reach Super Bowl XIV.
Known for his big picture perspective, Saul told the “Coffin Corner” publication in 1997 that football gave him a different outlook on the rest of his life.
“You have to feel dedication, determination, self-sacrifice, and pride,” Saul told the Coffin Corner. “You have to love to compete daily, you have to want to rise to the occasion, and you have to do your best in the fourth quarter. You run the last 110 yards faster than the first 110, even though you’re dying.
“Why? Because ever since you’re a kid, you love that total release, that feeling of wanting to win. Those kinds of feelings have to be part of you.
“You look back on your years in football, and you remember that you sweat, you bled, you laughed, you cried, you did it all. Every week you were going into battle, counting on the next guy. It’s something which you just have to experience.”
Saul’s twin brother Ron also played 12 years in the league, splitting time between Houston and Washington.
Upon his retirement, Saul worked in banking and real estate with Fidelity National Title for more than 25 years near his home in Newport Beach, Calif. and even spent time as a player personnel director in the Arena Football League.
When he wasn’t working in those areas, Rich and his brother spent their time out in the community working to make a difference on a daily basis. Rich and his wife were active in working with abused children as well as making regular hospital visits to kids dealing with cancer.
“Life is about giving back,” Rich said to the Coffin Corner. “There are four quarters in life. In the first quarter, you grow up and learn from your parents and coaches. In the second, you break away from your parents and work on your career. In the third, you concentrate on your family and your friends. Finally, in the fourth quarter, you go into your twilight years and you say, ‘What have I accomplished?’ Your success in each quarter depends on how well you played the previous quarter.”
Saul was originally diagnosed with cancer in 1999 and has been through three bouts with it including colon cancer, lymphoma and leukemia. The disease reached his brain a couple weeks ago and he returned home on April 2 to live out his final days with his family under hospice care according to the Orange County Register.
Saul is survived by wife Eileen, son Josh, daughter Jaime and grandchildren.