Colts and Rams, Biggest Trade in NFL History?
While not officially a player for player swap, the Baltimore Colts and Los Angeles Rams participated in one of the most unusual, if not largest, trades in NFL history. In 1972, Baltimore Colts owner Carroll Rosenbloom traded the entire franchise (players, administration, equipment, everything) to Robert Irsay the then-owner of the Los Angeles Rams for his entire franchise. No people or equipment changed cities, one day Rosenbloom and Irsay owned the Colts and Rams respectively, and the next day they’d switched places as owners of those teams.
In a strange coincidence, both teams would eventually leave their respective cities and relocate to play football in the Midwest. The Colts left Baltimore in 1984 and have since played as the Indianapolis Colts, while the Rams left Los Angeles in 1995 and became the St. Louis Rams.
An interesting note regarding Super Bowl trophies: The Baltimore Colts won Super Bowl V and were presented of course with the Super Bowl trophy. In 1972, when he traded franchises with Irsay, Rosenbloom kept the Super Bowl Trophy and took it west with him to Los Angeles. The Colts petitioned the NFL, and the NFL gave the Colts a replacement Super Bowl Trophy. In the legal maneuvers surrounding the Colts leaving Baltimore for Indianapolis, they were forced to leave the replacement trophy in Baltimore as part of the settlement. So, until the Colts won Super Bowl XLI following the 2006 season they did not have a Super Bowl Trophy, even though the organization had also won Super Bowl V.
Another connected story to this trading of franchises is centered on the legal help that the two owners received during the transaction. The entire deal was supervised by attorney Hugh Culverhouse. Culverhouse would later join these two as equals when he purchased the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers a few years later, he would go on to own them for a significant amount of time.