The Rams Proved What it Means to Keep Pushing

The Rams are one of the NFL’s most storied franchises.

The Rams won their first NFL Championship in 1945 as the Cleveland Rams. The Rams called Cleveland, Ohio home from 1936-1945.

The Rams would then move to Los Angeles, California where they called home from 1946-1994.

In 1951, the Rams would win their second league championship, the NFL Championship again. This was their first and only league championship in LA prior to Sunday night, and was won with a Tom Fears touchdown! Tom Fears was the quintessential Angeleno, having come from UCLA via Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.

The Rams would continue playing in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum winning the NFL Western Conference in 1955, the NFC Coastal Division in 1967 and 1969, the NFC West Division in 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, and 1979, and the NFC in 1979.

The Rams would move to Anahiem, California in neighboring Orange County, still within the LA Metro Area in 1980. Their Anaheim stadium was built for baseball and was not the best football stadium, but early on, that did not matter much as the Rams kept winning. The LA Rams continued their successes with a 1985 NFC West Division title and 7 playoff appearances, but nothing after 1989. The late Anaheim years brought about a destruction to the LA franchise, and their owner moved them away to St. Louis, Missouri for 1995.

The St. Louis Rams became dominant within 5 years. The St. Louis Rams would miss the playoffs early on, and then would win the NFC West, NFC, and their first Super Bowl and third league Championship in 1999!

The Rams would follow up this incredible season with trips to the 2000, 2001, 2003, and 2004 playoffs, with NFC West titles in 2001 and 2003, and a NFC Championsip and Super Bowl appearance in 2001.

However, the St. Louis Rams would not make the playoffs again after 2004.

The St. Louis Rams would quickly fall out of favor with St. Louis. Their 20 year old stadium would become ranked toward the bottom of the NFL and players would complain about the turf, setup, and injuries. The attendance became one of the lowest, and St. Louis itself kept experiencing more and more bad press as murder rates went higher and crime soared. For the former #2 city of the USA, St. Louis soon fell out of favor with the Missouri born Rams owner, Stan Kroenke, who basically demanded a very unrealistic stadium. When this was not met, and really, any proposal was probably not good enough, Stan Kroenke decided to move the Rams back to Los Angeles, the current #2 city of the USA.

The Rams left to come back to LA in 2016, where they moved into the LA Memorial Coliseum again! The Rams would go 3-13 their first season back, but 2017 was a great season where the Rams would win the NFC West, and then in 2018, the Rams won the NFC and made another Super Bowl appearance, followed by a 2019 season without playoffs.

The Rams would move to Inglewood, California in Los Angeles County and the LA Metro Area to play at their current home of SoFi Stadium for the 2020 season. Unfortunately, the Rams had no fans due to COVID-19, but the Rams would still have a good season making it to the NFC Divisional Round (2nd Round) of the Playoffs.

In the off-season, the Rams brought in Matthew Stafford and a few others. This was huge. The Rams would do very well in the 2021 season, winning the NFC West at a 12-5 record, and would have a fantastic playoff run winning the NFC Championship! But, the Rams were not done yet! The LA Rams would go onto win the Super Bowl 23-20 over the Cincinnati Bengals with a Super Bowl winning touchdown in the last 2 minutes! The Los Angeles Rams would win their first Super Bowl while in LA, and did it at their new stadium, SoFi Stadium!

The Rams fans have been through a lot over the years, moving cities, counties, and states, missing playoffs for many many years, being the worst team, and now the best! It has been lots of ups and downs.

And, these ups and downs follow the metro region they call home, as well as its players.

For LA Area Football fans, the 1990s and early 2000s were not as kind for a lot of teams. Yes, UCLA did very well in the late 1990s, and then USC would start to do very well in the late early 2000s. But, during these years, LA saw Cal State Northridge (2001), Cal State Fullerton (1992), and Cal State Long Beach (1991) all lose their football teams, in addition to the Los Angeles Raiders and Los Angeles Rams leaving LA, both in 1994.

UCLA and USC became the only games in town! These were LA’s highest level of football, even though many LA Metro Area players would dominate the NFL during this time span.

As for the NFL, some Rams fans stayed Rams fans, many Raiders fans stayed Raiders fans, and plenty of people became San Diego Chargers fans, the closest NFL team to LA at the time. But, many chose a different team. Some even made a stretch to call the Dallas Cowboys a home team due to their pre-season training being in Oxnard, California in nearby Ventura County, also in the LA Metro Area. But for the most part, the NFL and LA became detached. The “I like college football better” saying was most popular during the Fall. And unfortunately, this was keeping in mind that the ability to watch high level college football also decreased to 2!

And, when the Rams came back to LA in 2016, it was not met with so much happiness. Many Angelenos were happy, true, but many were not. They saw the Rams as bad and many would stay rooting for the teams they had adopted or grew up rooting for for the youths. Going to Rams games early on at the Coliseum was met with probably like 30% of people in Rams gear, 20% in away team gear, and 50% in random team gear. In 2017, when the Chargers moved to Los Angeles, this was even met with more unpopularity as many people in the LA Metro Area have ties to San Diego. The Chargers would have an even worse percentage of Chargers fans to away team and random team fans, and this was at the 30,000 seat stadium they played at for the LA Galaxy of the MLS.

But, that all started to change shortly. The Rams would become good in 2017! The Chargers would garner more fans in 2018 when they would become good. The 2018 year saw the Rams and Chargers dominate. Still, their fan situation and stadium situation was not the best, but they did well on the field creating more hype around their teams.

By the time SoFi Stadium opened up, the Rams and Chargers both felt like hometown teams. They had gone through training camps in the area, had invested heavily in things like youth football and many after-school programs, and had brought in extra business and excitement to the LA Metro Region. People in Thousand Oaks (Rams) and Costa Mesa (Chargers) get to drive past their local teams training facilities, while a flight out of LAX means a view of the new stadium in Inglewood. And, with the first year in SoFi Stadium being without fans, this meant that both sets of fans, as well as the whole LA Area was ready to check out the most expensive stadium in the World!

Jan 3, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; A general view of SoFi Stadium during the NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams defeated the Cardinals 18-7. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
A photo taken of SoFi Stadium at night by a Reddit user, as they flew over the stadium on their flight to or from LAX.

The Rams had the team hype, while the Chargers had the young quarterback hype. Both teams went back to their traditional colors, which most fans liked better, at least in the Southern California region. The Rams did change their logo, which was not met with great applause, but soon, that did not matter. The team looked good and their uniforms were good. The logo has grown on most fans as well.

For football fans in Los Angeles, and a sports fan in Los Angeles, this was a dream come true! The most successful sports league was in LA, as well as the most expensive stadium in sports, and the most popular single domestic game in sports, the Super Bowl, was coming to LA too!

While the Chargers barely missed the playoffs, their season was still fun to watch, but for the Rams, their team was spectacular winning the current hardest division in football, the NFC West! The Rams would defeat the Arizona Cardinals in the Wildcard Round, then the Rams would defeat the defending Super Bowl Champions and Tom Brady led Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa Bay in the Divisional Round, and then the Rams defeated archrivals San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship!

Not only was LA hosting the Super Bowl, LA would be in the Super Bowl!

Super Bowl LVI logo next to “Kroenke Lake” at SoFi Stadium. From The LA Times.

If there were any doubts that LA had NFL football, those were gone! 70+ thousand people would be watching at SoFi Stadium in the most important football game of the year, the Super Bowl! Even more would be tuning in to watch NFL football on TV that was being kicked off in LA. The whole world would come to know LA for football!

And, just like a Hollywood movie, the Los Angeles Rams would comeback to win the Super Bowl in the final 2 minutes of the NFL season! The Rams would win their first Super Bowl while in Los Angeles, and their second league title in Los Angeles overall.

Cooper Kupp Scores the Rams’ Game Winning Touchdown. From New York Post.
Aaron Donald successfully rushes the Bengals’ Joe Burrow into a bad throw to force a turnover on downs as the Rams would be able to take a knee and win the Super Bowl on their next offensive possession.

Not only would LA be known for football, it would now be known for being the best in football!

LA Rams are Super Bowl Champions. From The Guardian.

As for the players and coaches, they have had to go through a lot of ups and downs too.

Rams starting quarterback, Matthew Stafford, played for 12 seasons in the NFL going 0-3 in playoffs during that time span. Having never won a playoff game meant that Matthew Stafford would never be remembered among the great quarterbacks, even with good numbers. Having been traded to the LA Rams was a big risk for his legacy and the Rams as the Rams had to give up a lot, and if Matthew Stafford did not win, he would be remembered as having not won on a team stacked with talent, ending the excuses of him not having won because of his lack of talented teammates on the Detroit Lions. Winning the Super Bowl cemented Matthew Stafford’s legacy as a top quarterback.

Cooper Kupp was a 0 star rated high school player who only had two collegiate offers and chose Eastern Washington in the lower division 1, FCS, or in regular people terms, the second level. Cooper Kupp excelled there and would do well enough to get drafted to the Rams in 2017. Since then, he has been a key part of the LA Rams. And, this season, he had arguably the best season as a wide receiver ever, leading the NFL in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. He earned the AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award and the Super Bowl MVP after scoring the Super Bowl winning Touchdown.

Cooper Kupp with the Vince Lombardi Trophy for Winning the Super Bowl, and being told he was Super Bowl MVP.

Odell Beckham Jr. has been arguably the best wide receiver since his time with the New York Giants (2014-2018). In his rookie season, he became the first rookie to record more than 75 receptions, 1,100 receiving yards, and 10 touchdowns, earning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and also having what many consider to be the best catch of all-time in his Sunday Night Football game at home against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 12. He continued to set elite numbers with the Giants. In 2017, he suffered an injury in Week 5 and did not return. In 2018, he played 12 games and had 1,052 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns, plus two passing touchdowns. He would be traded to the Cleveland Browns for the 2019 season, and Odell Beckham Jr. once again surpassed 1,000 receiving yards. 2020 Odell Beckham Jr. only played 7 games due to injury. Part way through the 2021 regular season, Odell Beckham Jr. would be waived and then picked up by the Los Angeles Rams. Here, Odell Beckham Jr. would score 7 receiving touchdowns in 12 games, including 1 in the Super Bowl before another injury struck him in the second quarter that made him sit out the rest of the Super Bowl game. Yet, his teammates came through to win Odell Beckham Jr. his first Super Bowl!

Van Jefferson has played wide receiver for the Rams for two seasons since he was drafted to the LA Rams in 2020. Van Jefferson has not had as illustrious career as his teammates on this list, but did have a very good second season and his wife went into labor during the Super Bowl, as Van Jefferson went to the Hospital to see his second son and third child being born after winning the Super Bowl for the first time!

Andrew Whitworth is 40 years old and had been playing in the NFL since 2006, earning 4 Pro Bowl appearances and never had won a Super Bowl. He has been widely regarded as one of the best offensive tackles in the NFL for quite some time. Thus, his Super Bowl win on Sunday meant a lot to the seasoned veteran who was looking to retire on top, or at least with one Super Bowl.

Feb 13, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth (77) holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Donald has been the highest rated player in the NFL for some time now, and is widely regarded as the best defensive lineman in NFL history. He has played 8 seasons and has earned 8 Pro Bowl selections and 7 All-Pro first team honors. He has earned a record three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards. He has played for the Rams since 2014 when he was drafted and thus has been part of the St. Louis and Los Angeles years. Yet, Aaron Donald had never won a Super Bowl before this past Sunday, even though he had been called the best defensive player in the NFL of all-time. Aaron Donald’s perseverance saw him get a Super Bowl winning tackle and pass rush that would secure the LA Rams Super Bowl on their last defensive stop. Aaron Donald would finally win the Super Bowl!

Von Miller Jr. has been a top linebacker and at times, almost unanimously viewed as the best linebacker during his career since 2011. Von Miller Jr.’s teammate Demaryius Thomas had died earlier this season and thus, Von Miller Jr. was playing for him, his own kids, and his new team and fans. While Von Miller Jr. may have already won one Super Bowl, this second Super Bowl win meant so much for Von Miller Jr. for many reasons, especially for Demaryius Thomas and so that he could prove to others he is still an elite player.

Von Miller Jr. with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after winning Super Bowl LVI with the LA Rams.

Eric Weddle had been a 6 time Pro Bowl free safety and had retired after his 2019-2020 season with the Rams. Eric Weddle had never won a Super Bowl having played most of his career for the Chargers during their years in San Diego. He also played with the Baltimore Ravens for three seasons. But, his one season with the Rams was to be his last, until January of 2022 when the Rams suffered some defensive back injuries. Eric Weddle came out of retirement and would sign with the Rams Practice Squad, before playing in all 4 playoff games for the Rams, winning his first Super Bowl after one year of being retired. He has announced he is going to retire again.

Jalen Ramsey played three seasons and three games (2016-2019) with the Jacksonville Jaguars being selected for 2 Pro Bowls while there, and then being traded after Week 6 of 2019 to the Los Angeles Rams. He has achieved a Pro Bowl selection every year in LA, and thus has only had one non-Pro Bowl selection and that was his rookie season. He is also the highest paid defensive back of all-time. This has made Jalen Ramsey widely regarded as the best cornerback in the NFL. However, he too was missing a Super Bowl like many of his teammates until Sunday night, and thus Jalen Ramsey would earn his first Super Bowl on Sunday night!

Taylor Rapp has played for the Rams since he was drafted in 2019, playing three seasons in LA. He is a free safety who has had to overcome many things regarding his background, which stems from his mother being from Shanghai. Taylor Rapp is one of the few Asian-Americans in the NFL and has “beaten long odds, undeterred by a city that failed to support prep football, a high school community that openly mocked him, coaches who were unprepared to develop his talents, college recruiters who blatantly overlooked him and kids who racially taunted him for his Chinese ethnicity” according to NFL.com. Taylor Rapp proved many of the coaches wrong many times, especially now that he won Super Bowl LVI on Sunday night.

Johnny Hekker has been the Rams punter since 2012 and thus has moved with the team from St. Louis to Los Angeles. During his time as the Rams’ punter, Johnny Hekker has been known for his excellent punting and passing when called upon for fakes. While his Super Bowl performance was not great, the 4 time Pro Bowl and All-Pro first team selectee won his first Super Bowl this past Sunday which was much deserved for a member of the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team.

Sean McVay has continued to do well as a young football coach and have proved the Rams correct for hiring him. While he has made mistakes in the past and is in no way perfect, he seems to put together good teams consistently which is something the Rams were missing in the later St. Louis years and their first Los Angeles year. Sean McVay became the youngest Super Bowl Winning Head Coach on Sunday winning his first Super Bowl, which is historical in itself.

LA Rams Head Coach, Sean McVay, with the Vince Lombardi Trophy for winning Super Bowl LVI.

There are so many other good stories, but the point is that the Rams not only deserved a Super Bowl as did their fans and area they represent, but so too did their players and coaches.

While the media and many in social media portrayed the Cincinatti Bengals as the underdogs or as the city that has waited for a Super Bowl for too long, thus portraying the Bengals as the emotional choice, it was really the Rams and Los Angeles that deserved this win the most, not just because the Rams were the best team in the NFL this season, but also because LA fans deserved this experience after the NFL abandoned them so long ago.

Many people will still criticize the lack of fan support or the style of fans for the Rams (“bandwagon fans”), but for the Rams, they have tons of support in the LA Area. It is just that LA is so big, and has such a diverse population with varying intetests. The LA fans should not be expected to have been Rams fans before they came back anyway, and should not be expected to immideately be fans now. Nonetheless, the LA Rams as Super Bowl Champions have cemented a legacy for their franchise, metro area, players, coaches, and fans.

This whole story is one of perseverance. And that is something LA Football and Rams Football knows all too well. The LA Rams are Super Bowl LVI Champions! Congrats to the Rams!

LA Rams Head Coach Sean McVay with the Vince Lombardi Trophy with many of his key players sharing the stage with him, for having won Super Bowl LVI.

Published by CK 22

I like history, politics, foreign diplomacy, sports, and more. Basically, the most popular things, plus also geography.

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