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Today in Sports History: July 26th

7/26/1972 - Rams and Colts swap owners

In a truly unprecedented move, Robert Irsay, the owner of the Baltimore Colts and Carroll Rosenbloom, the owner of the Los Angeles Rams, trade ownership of their NFL teams.

Rosenbloom wanted to retain ownership of a team while living in a more profitable city, one that would satisfy his wife's ambition to live on the west coast and his ambition to escape the D.C. press. Meanwhile, former Colts assistant Joe Thomas was itching to become the general manager of a franchise, but there weren't any offers. Then, when Rams owner Dan Reeves passed away, Thomas convinced his good friend Irsay to buy the Rams for $19 million -- in exchange, Irsay would immediately become the owner of the Colts, then Rosenbloom the Rams'. Irsay, who was looking to become an NFL owner anyway, also received an additional $3 million in the transaction, while Thomas was rewarded with the G.M. position of the Baltimore Colts.

Today, a swap like this would be impossible to pull off. Not only are even the lowliest of sports teams worth hundreds of millions of dollars, many of the teams are now owned by corporations and a group of people, rather than just one wealthy individual.

In the end, football fans in both Baltimore and Los Angeles wound up getting screwed. The Colts failed to win a single playoff game under Irsay and eventually moved to Indianapolis. L.A. fans were initially on the much better end of the spectrum, as the Rams made the postseason in every year that Rosenbloom was their owner. But in 1979, Carroll mysteriously drowned to death while swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, and control of the team was handed over to his wife, Georgia Frontiere. Georgia then moved the team to Anaheim, married her seventh husband, and in the mid-90's, she moved the Rams out of California altogether and to St. Louis, Missouri.