The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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Rams draft Rafer Johnson, January 22, 1959


The Rams picked a real winner in the NFL annual draft.

Rafer Johnson would become world famous in 1960 by winning the gold medal in the decathlon at the Rome Olympics. He already held the world record in the event and when not competing in track was playing basketball at UCLA.

Cal Whorton's story didn't mention the round in which Johnson was drafted, but the website listed Johnson as the Rams' 28th round selection that year.

The Rams had gambled on multi-sport athletes before. The Celtics' K.C. Jones might have made the 1958 team but decided to concentrate on basketball.

Johnson never played for the Rams, but he made history at the Coliseum in 1984 when he took the Olympic torch up the stadium steps during the opening ceremonies.

--Keith Thursby

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