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Headline News: ‘Arrivederci Aroma’

December 30th, 2019 · No Comments · Back in the Day, Football, Italy, Journalism, Los Angeles Rams, NFL, Rome

A clever headline tells a story … with a twist.

I prefer to think everyone likes a clever headline, but I fear only people in the publishing business really appreciate a good “hed”.

Like this one, from the Los Angeles Times 40 years ago.

“Arrivederci Aroma: Rams Stink Up the Coliseum”

To make sure everyone appreciates that headline, — one of the most memorable I saw in my sports journalism career — let’s bring in some background.

The Rams in 1979 had announced they would be leaving the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to play in Anaheim in 1980.

So, when they got to the final game of the ’79 season (a year when I covered every game the team played), well, that was it for the Rams and the Coliseum. At the time.

The headline writer is giving us a lot with a little.

–The original Coliseum stood in Rome, or “Roma”, the capital of Italy.

–“Arrivederci” is one of several ways of saying “goodbye” or “farewell” in Italian. Buongiorno and ciao are others.

–“Arrivederci Roma” was the name of a popular song released in the U.S. in 1957. About how sad it was to leave Rome. And, this is key: A song nearly forgotten in 2019 was probably familiar to nearly all Times readers, back in 1979.

–That day, December 16, 1979, was not a good one for the Rams. They had been favored to win by a touchdown, but two interceptions thrown by Rams quarterback Vince Ferragamo, a safety conceded and four (!) lost fumbles doomed the Rams to a 29-14 spanking by the Saints.

So, let’s put it all together.

“Arrivederci Aroma: Rams Stink Up Coliseum” uses an Italian word for “farewell”, a word that recalls a popular song (once an “a” is placed in front of “Roma”) and the harsh word “stink” to describe the “aroma” in the Rams’ farewell at the Coliseum.

Daring. Funny. Brilliant.

(Note: Some online sources say the Times headline used “smell” instead of “stink”. One is less harsh on the home team but the other better represents how bad the Rams were that day. Also, we are not sure of the identity of the headline writer. Two veteran Timesmen said today they did not know but one suggested that veteran editor George Kiseda, who died in 2007, might have been involved.)

As bad as the Rams were that day, they still won the NFC West, with a 9-7 record, to advance to the playoffs, where they defeated the Dallas Cowboys 21-19 and then the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9-0 to win the NFC and advance to the Super Bowl for the first time.

However, they were unable to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl 14.

The Rams led three times before losing 31-19 in Pasadena’s Rose Bowl — where their gutty effort left behind an aroma that brought to mind gardenias, lilacs, lilies and, yes, roses.


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