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Chris Dufresne

Puzzling Ram Career of Dieter Brock: Bizarre From Beginning to Abrupt End

December 21, 1986|Chris Dufresne

The most lasting memory in the short and rocky Ram career of Dieter Brock will in time be more difficult to forget than the quarterback himself.

It was the sight of Brock walking through Rams Park on a day last September. Brock's face was a chalky white, having just returned from his brother Bill's funeral in Alabama.

No one had expected to see Brock at Rams Park that day. He wasn't required to be there, but he was.

It seemed a cruel irony that Brock would show up on the very day the Rams acquired the rights to quarterback Jim Everett from the Houston Oilers.

It was bad enough losing his brother. But so, too, on that day had Brock lost his job.

No one had the nerve or the heart to get Brock's reaction. Then again, you really didn't need one.

The business of sports sometimes requires you to fill in your own blanks. The head coach would not on that day stand up and yell, "Ladies and gentlemen, we've got Everett now, we don't need Brock anymore."

The coach would continue to call Dieter a "tough guy" as Brock and his ailing back failed to fight their way off an injured-reserve list.

But it's safe to say that Brock's strange Ram career had ended on that day, Sept. 18.

And so did it effectively capture Brock's sense of timing, which should be classified as rotten.

It keenly reflected what will be regarded as perhaps the most bizarre chapter in Ram quarterback history.

Brock's career officially ended last week, when the Rams released him on waivers. The conclusion was almost as puzzling as his signing in the first place.

His career began at a press conference with lights and cameras and the team's owner squeezing his bicep muscle.

It ended not with a handshake but with a phone call, not from the head coach.

Brock was out of town, in Alabama, when the news came a week ago last Friday. He could not be reached for comment. The Rams told reporters that he had been released the previous Monday.

When Brock returned to clean out his locker, he unleashed on the media for botching the whole story, claiming that he had been informed only a day before his official release.

Brock said he was not allowed to slip quietly out of town, as this knuckle-headed writer chose to assume.

Brock was so upset that he refused to comment on how he would be remembered in Ram history, as if he needed to set the record straight.

Dieter Brock played just 15 regular-season games for the Rams, but never has one man been more maligned by so many.

Trust that no one will remember that Brock set a Ram record in 1985 by completing 59.7% of his passes.

Rest assured that we all will remember a cold day in Chicago when Brock was thrown to the Bears and completed just 10 of 31 passes for 66 yards in a title game.

It would be a cold day in Los Angeles before a nice word would be spoken about him again.

But it's hard not to consider that Brock may have been doomed from the beginning, in March of 1985, when the Rams uncovered him from the frozen tundra of the Canadian Football League, where Brock had been a star for 11 seasons.

In the States, he was a curious unknown with a mythical name and quality about him.

He was also a 34-year-old rookie with, as it turned out, a chronic back problem. He certainly was an oddity and definitely not what Ram fans had in mind for their quarterback.

Brock was polite and reserved. He would never get a bit part in Hollywood. He would never model underwear. He was pale-skinned and long-haired. He played football in Canada, for goodness' sakes.

The novelty of Brock quickly eroded.

He never quite fit in. To his credit he took an abundance of abuse with grace and answered every reporter's question until, well almost, the very end.

No one is or should feel sorry for Dieter Brock. He made more money this year ($250,000) for not playing than the average man does in 10.

With the coming of Everett, Brock has been quickly forgotten. That's the way it works in sports, with its respective heroes and goats.

But you are left to wonder what Brock was ever doing here in the first place. You might wonder how much happier he'd have been had he remained a star in the CFL.

You can think about the hate mail he would have never received and the passes in Chicago he would have never thrown.

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