LA Rams: Three great quarterbacks from 1960 to 2003

(Photo by Nate Fine/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nate Fine/Getty Images) /
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LA Rams History James Harris
(Photo by Nate Fine/Getty Images) /

James Harris

James Harris was selected in the eighth round of the 1969 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. Of note, Harris would join fellow rookie and eventual Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson in the Bills starting backfield that season.

In 1973, the rookie from Grambling State would sign with the LA Rams after being released by Buffalo the previous season, as the backup to John Hadl. In 1974, the Rams would open the season 3-2, but Hadl struggled under head coach Chuck Knox.

Harris would be named the starting quarterback and debut against the San Francisco 49ers, leading the Rams to a 37-14 win at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Hadl would be dealt to the Green Bay Packers two days after the Niners win, and Harris would end up starting for the remainder of the season.

The Rams would win seven of their last nine games and would lead the team to its second Western Division Title. They would go on to beat the Washington Redskins 19-10 in their first playoff appearance since 1951.

The LA Rams would lose to the Minnesota Vikings 14-10 in the NFC Championship Game. His amazing season would end with a trip to the Pro Bowl, where he would be named game MVP.

James Harris was a groundbreaking player in the AFL and the NFL. He was the first black player to start at quarterback in the history of pro football and was the second black player to start any game at that position in the modern era.

As his career came to a close with the Rams in 1976, Harris’ 89.6 passer rating that year was tied for the highest in the NFC. It was also the first time a black quarterback ever led his conference in that category.