Dec. 13, 1959: Sid Gillman is regarded as a football genius, a Hall of Fame coach with a bow tie whose disciples spread his offensive theories throughout the NFL. Back in 1959, however, he was just another unemployed coach.
The Rams parted company with Gillman after a disappointing 2-10 season. Gillman didn't exactly resign but agreed to go once it became clear the owners wanted to make a change.
"None of us are blaming him alone for the Rams' poor record this year but we felt that all the hue and cry would put too much pressure on him if he returned next year," said owner Dan Reeves, who said coaching the Rams was one of the toughest jobs in football.
"The rest of the league looks upon us as a bunch of Hollywood characters and they give ... a little extra when they play us. I know they do."
Gillman didn't exactly set the world on fire with the Rams, going 28-31-1 in four seasons. And his critics included some famous names.
Former Ram great Tom Fears told the Associated Press a couple days earlier that Gillman was "tearing down a dynasty which had been carefully erected and he's doing it at a time when the Los Angeles Dodgers are moving in on the entertainment dollar." And Tom Harmon, a Heisman Trophy winning running back who became a Los Angeles broadcaster, called the team "gutless."
Bob Waterfield, a former Ram quarterback, was already rumored to be Gillman's successor. He did get the job and his record from 1960 to 1962 was downright dreadful.
As for Gillman, he would land with the Los Angeles Chargers of the American Football League, moving with them to San Diego after a season in the Coliseum. Until then, like many a Hollywood celebrity before him, he turned to television. On Dec. 31, The Times published the news that Gillman would appear in an episode of "The Rifleman."
"I can't ride, I can't shoot, I can't act and I'm not very pretty," Gillman said, "so the scriptwriter really faces a problem when it comes to figuring out my role."