September 16, 2016 at 12:37 pm #194011
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I saw this on ESPN, Im tired of hearing that LA Rams fans are not dedicated when the team is losing. I stayed a Rams fan when they left us and moved to Stl. I stayed a Rams fan through the last few years of the team sucking in LA before the move.
There may be some Holywood types that are fair weather fans but there is a core group that has stayed more loyal to their team than any other team in the NFL. My team just went on a 20 year road trip, now they are BACK!
Just look at the number of people who showed up at the Rams rallies before the move. Don’t judge all Rams fans by what you see from some corporate types who sit in the luxury boxes.
LOS ANGELES — The first indication came subtly, in the middle of January, when a couple-hundred fans showed up to The Forum in Inglewood, California, for the Los Angeles Rams’ first news conference back in Los Angeles. Then there was the draft party at L.A. Live in late April. People lined up shortly after the sun rose to secure tickets. And the first day of training camp from Irvine, California, which carried an attendance of roughly 10,000.
But Kevin Demoff, the Rams’ COO who grew up here, couldn’t fully grasp the significance of it all until the morning of Aug. 13, when he pulled up to Los Angeles Coliseum for the first preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys and saw fans tailgating at 9 a.m.
“The flags flying, and the game-day atmosphere — that’s when you appreciated how important this was to this city,” Demoff said. “And I can’t even begin to imagine the difference on Sunday — with the 1:20 kick, and a bitter rival in the Seattle Seahawks, in the first meaningful game — just how meaningful this is going to be to this city and to everybody to symbolize that the NFL is truly back.”
The Rams opened up about 5,000 additional seats for their 2016 home opener in early August, and Demoff said they “lasted all of about two minutes.”
Now about 90,000 will fill the Coliseum on Sunday, for the Rams’ first regular-season game there since 1979 and first time as a home team in L.A. in 22 years. The Rams will wear their throwback uniforms, the popular royal blue and gold will conjure up memories of Merlin Olsen and Jack Youngblood. The Red Hot Chili Peppers will perform a pregame concert, CeeLo Green will sing the national anthem, a collection of Hall of Famers will be honored and the Coliseum’s Olympic torch will be lit — the start of a tradition that will carry on for every Rams home game over the next three years.
Demoff sees the opener as a symbolic “end of the relocation journey.”
It might also be the end of the proverbial honeymoon period.
From there it will only be about the product on the field. And if Monday night was any indication — and if the days that followed were any sort of barometer — this is a team that will test the patience of a fan base that historically doesn’t have much of it. Asked for his takeaway from the Rams’ season-opening 28-0 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, Jim Everett, the quarterback in L.A. from 1986-93, said: “We’ve got one hell of a punter.”
Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson, with the L.A. Rams from 1983-87, was even more direct.
“They don’t have a lot,” Dickerson said of the current Rams. “I’m just being honest. I’m a Rams fan, but I’m honest. They don’t have a whole lot. I mean they really don’t.”
The question, then, is how long the Rams can keep attention spans in a city with so many distractions. L.A. is a bandwagon town. It loves winners and ignores losers. The Clippers went through that until, well, now. But the Clippers have the Lakers to ease some of the pressure, and the Kings have the Ducks, and the Dodgers have the Angels. The Rams — for now, at least — are all alone in the market.
“L.A. fans are not like Steeler fans; they’re not like Packer fans,” Dickerson said. “They’re just not. You have to accept that. But when you have a winning product on the field, I’m telling you, you have no better fans. It’s Hollywood. Hollywood is all about glitz and glamour — and winning.”
The Rams were embarrassed in their season opener, in front of a national-television audience and against a team widely considered one of the NFL’s worst. The defense gave up 123 rushing yards in the first half, the offense amassed 185 yards from scrimmage through four quarters and the team committed 10 penalties. It was the worst performance from the opening week, and fans promptly eviscerated their new team through social media.
Everett doesn’t believe one game should be blown out of proportion.
“There’s two letters, L-A, in the word relax,” he said. “Let the boys play.”
But that’s not how this market works.
“I don’t think we’re naive to think we’re going to get this unbelievable honeymoon period where people will tolerate not being competitive,” Demoff said. “We’ve got to be competitive. We’ve got to win. We’ve got to set the tone for what we expect this team to be in the market. But we’re not going to be perfect, and we’re going to have ups and downs and games like Monday.”
Dickerson settled in Southern California after retiring in 1993, and the Rams left for St. Louis two years later. He doesn’t believe L.A. fans really cared for about a decade, until the sport exploded in popularity and the area suddenly began longing for the NFL. Dickerson believes the relationship between L.A. and the Rams will take time to nurture.
“It’s like a girl that you love,” Dickerson explained. “You left her, and you show back up and she’s like, ‘Hold up, you’re not going to stick your tongue down my throat right away. Take me out to dinner for a little while.'”
Regardless of how these first couple of years play out, and regardless of how fan interest might wane if the team does not perform, Dickerson expects another uptick in interest when the Rams open their massive new stadium in 2019. It’ll be another mile marker; another milestone to symbolize a new beginning for this franchise.
But somehow they must bridge the gap.
“What I want most for this team is to be competitive consistently,” Demoff said. “To go win division titles, to go deep in the playoffs, to deliver Super Bowls. We want the same thing as the fans. We want to build this process. This is a long-term vision for the Rams in Los Angeles. But you shouldn’t have to trade off short-term success for a long-term vision.”
One of the original Rams fans...no not Cleveland...the one after that in LA.
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