By John Turney
|Saul, with his name on the back, wearing #87|
Saul was drafted as a linebacker by the Rams in 1970 (he played that position at Michigan State) and was one of the best-ever special teams players in our view and was an excellent center once he locked down the starting job in 1975 going to six Pro Bowls.
Red arrows indicate Saul—
He also had a nickname of "Supe" which was short for "super-sub" because he filled in at a lot of positions in his early years with the Rams. He converted to center, but also worked out at guard, tackle, tight end and linebacker, though he spent most of that time as a long snapper and backing up Ken Iman, even splitting time in 1973-74.
In 1972, In Week 5 against the Eagles, Saul wore number 87 when he was playing tight end and also weakside offensive guard. Later in the game, he wore his usual 61 when playing weakside guard.
|As L1 on the kickoff team in first half wearing #87|
|As L1 on the kickoff team in 3rd quarter, wearing #61|
The flopping of the guards was unusual, we are not aware of any modern NFL team doing it, other than the 1971-72 Rams. It was something Rams Head Coach Prothro brought with him from college football, where was common at the time.
On this day Mack was nicked and didn't start with Mike LaHood taking his spot at weakside guard and in the course of the game Joe Scibelli was also nicked and then Mike LaHood filled in for Scibelli on the strong side and Saul for Mack on the weak side.
The red arrows point to Saul and his #87.
Here Saul late in the game, playing weak guard wearing number 61.
Why? Backup tight end Pat Curran didn't play in the game and Saul (Supe) was essentially the third tight end. Since he'd be in the game more than usual (being the second tight end rather than the third) it was likely smarter to have an eligible number.
Here is Saul in goal line early in the game as a tight end—
When Scibelli got hurt the Rams had to put Saul in at guard right away so he played guard with #87 and then early in the third quarter he switched jerseys to his usual #61. When he played guard with that number it was late in the game and the Rams had a big lead and if Saul were to go back to tight in short-yardage, he could just signal himself eligible. That is our surmise anyway.
If we find out more (such as if this happened in other games where Curran was out), we will update this post.