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As the Rams Turned

After a Soap Opera That Eventually Carried Him and L.A. Out of the NFL, Steve Rosenbloom Has New Bridges to Coss

January 11, 2000|LARRY STEWART | TIMES STAFF WRITER

COVINGTON, La. — There's not much excitement in this town of 7,700, across Lake Pontchartrain about 45 minutes north of New Orleans. There might occasionally be a rowdy party in the ballroom at the Holiday Inn on a Saturday night, but otherwise things are quiet.

There are no big corporations with boardrooms filled with people obsessed by profit margins, and that suits Steve Rosenbloom fine.

Rosenbloom, 55, and his wife, Shelly, who have two young children, have lived in Covington since 1991. It is linked to New Orleans by the 24-mile Causeway, the world's longest single-span bridge.

It seems an appropriate place for the son of former Los Angeles Ram owner Carroll Rosenbloom. For Steve Rosenbloom, a lot of water has gone under the bridge.

Oil is the primary business here, and Rosenbloom owns a small company, Bulk Tank Industries (BTI), which supplies containers used for storing and distributing chemicals used by oil drillers.

He likes what he does, and he likes his life.

Besides running BTI, he's involved with three partners in a new venture, Sea-Therm, which has developed what Rosenbloom says is a revolutionary insulation for drilling equipment.

"If this goes, it's going to be big, really big," he said.

Like winning the Super Bowl?

"Yeah, like winning the Super Bowl, only more fun."

The anger and bitterness over what happened more than two decades ago, when he lost his father, then lost the Rams, have long disappeared.

The Rams, some people say, should have been his team. If they were, he said, he would never have moved them away from Southern California--to St. Louis or anywhere else.

"Why would you?" he asked. "My dad made the deal for the Rams to get to a bigger market. So why would you go to a smaller market?"

Carroll Rosenbloom, a former University of Pennsylvania running back whose family had made millions in textiles, bought the Baltimore Colts in 1953. Steve, the younger of two sons, showed interest in football and by the time he was 12 was working for the Colts. He started in the locker room.

"My job was basically picking up jocks' jocks," he said.

It was part of a long grooming process. The assumption was that someday Steve would take over. He got a degree in business administration from Georgetown in 1967.

In 1972, Carroll Rosenbloom swapped the Colts for the Rams in a deal with Robert Irsay, who had bought the Rams from the estate of Dan Reeves. Reeves had died the previous year.

Irsay moved the Colts to Indianapolis in 1984.

The Rams moved to St. Louis in 1995.

Now, as the usually downtrodden Rams and Colts prepare for Super Bowl runs, Rosenbloom represents a bridge between the teams.

"I guess I'm the last living connection," he said.

There are other connections too. Rosenbloom's oldest son, J.C., was a high school teammate of Peyton Manning, the Colt quarterback. And Manning's father, Archie, was the Saint quarterback in 1980, the one year Rosenbloom was the Saint general manager. That job brought Rosenbloom to the New Orleans area.

Rosenbloom felt he had to get out of Los Angeles.

"I got run over by a semi a few times" is how he describes his life after his father mysteriously drowned while swimming off the Florida coast north of Miami on April 2, 1979. Carroll Rosenbloom's will left 70% of the Rams to his wife, Georgia, Steve's stepmother, and the remaining 30% to his five children--6% for each.

Instead of inheriting a team that today is worth about half a billion dollars, Steve Rosenbloom, after much turmoil, got about $2 million for his 6%.

The will called for Steve to run the team, but Georgia, who in 1980 remarried to become Georgia Frontiere, fired him two weeks into the 1979 exhibition season.

Steve, along with Dick Steinberg, Ram director of player personnel, moved on to the Saints, where, after a 1-15 season, they resigned.

These days, Rosenbloom doesn't even watch much football.

"I have found other things to do with my Sundays," he said.

Asked if he was rooting for the Rams, he said, "I root for cities, and since I lived in Baltimore and Los Angeles, those are the cities I root for."

*

Carroll Rosenbloom had three children with his first wife, Velma, now 92 and living in Margate, N.J. He had two children with Georgia, Lucia Rodriguez, 38, and Dale, 35. Lucia and her family--she has four children--live in Brentwood. Dale, a filmmaker and writer, lives with his wife and two children in West Los Angeles.

Steve's brother Dan, 15 months older than Steve, lives in Florida and is in investment banking. Steve's younger sister, Suzanne Irwin, died six years ago in Palm Springs at 45 after battling a crippling form of arthritis most of her life.

"She was the toughest, most courageous person I have ever known," Rosenbloom said. "She came down with what is called juvenile arthritis when she was 10. She had 32 operations. Most people would have been in a wheelchair. She not only walked on her own, she water-skied, took part in other athletic endeavors, and danced, all against her doctors' advice."

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