August 28, 1999, Chargers safety Rodney Harrison smashes into the back of Trent Green's knees on a blitz in a preseason game. The blow ends Green's season and nearly his career.
Fast forward to this year's preseason contest, Rams coach Mike Martz took note of the number of times San Diego blitzed, pointing out that the Rams chose to sit there and take it rather than expose pass-blocking schemes to a team he would meet again in the regular season.
Harrison's suggested that he helped the Rams win the Super Bowl back in 1999, because Green's injury brought unknown Kurt Warner to the starting role and prominence throughout the league.
With Martz coaching the Rams, and Harrison the perennial safety for the Bolts, there will always be some emotion in this game. Martz normally sidesteps questions about rivalries and trash talk prior to games.
"There may be a little emotion involved with it," Martz said. "But there always is with San Diego since the Trent Green affair. I think that's been carried through the years and probably will be for a while."
Not a lot of sidestepping there.
Back to preseason this year. Chargers defenders were riding high after shutting down the St offense. The same Charger team who came off a 5-11 season needed something to cheer about. It could have been premature since the Bolts would face the Rams in the regular season.
"They kind of treated it almost like a regular-season game," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "Which is what a lot of teams do when they play us, regardless of whether it's the preseason. But this will be the one that counts. Hopefully, they won't be doing that after this game."
"I think they think they have our number because they've beaten us the past couple years in the preseason," cornerback Dre' Bly said. "They're having a great year. We have our work cut out for us."
Back in '99 the Rams first 18 offensive plays in that regular-season game were pass plays. Was it possibly a way of getting back at the Chargers?
"There's always been a little animosity, I think, between the two teams," Warner said.
Even the preseason meetings of 2001 and 2002 didn't pass without incident. In San Diego in 2001, offensive tackle Orlando Pace went after Chargers linebacker Junior Seau when Seau roughed up Marshall Faulk several feet out of bounds.
The Chargers won that August 22 preseason contest 31-10, and won the '01 preseason matchup 13-10, in overtime. The Bolts are hoping for the same luck during the season and not the 57-31 drubbing they received back in the '99 regular season.
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