Los Angeles loves football but the relationship is deep and complicated – Orange County Register

LOS ANGELES – Kevin Demoff, chief executive of the Rams, boldly went there.

“I have complete confidence that we can master this market,” Demoff said.

Demoff said with conviction. After all, the Rams are participating and hosting the LA area’s first Super Bowl in 29 years.

It’s the perfect outcome that Demoff and the Rams would never have imagined had it been presented to them in a Hollywood script five years ago when it was announced to the NFL that SoFi Stadium would not be ready in time.

Tampa Bay jumped to the top and was awarded Super Bowl LV – and the headaches that come with it – long before masks and vaccines were required to participate in NFL games.

Waiting another year turned out to be the best outcome for the Rams and the Los Angeles Super Bowl Committee. SoFi Stadium will have more than 70,000 fans in attendance on Sunday for the big game between the home team and the Cincinnati Bengals.

“When you get the chance to play in a Super Bowl, it always helps to pin hearts and minds,” Demoff said. “When you have the opportunity to host the Super Bowl, it obviously enhances your brand, the SoFi Stadium brand, the NFL in Los Angeles in general. When you combine the two, it’s an incredibly powerful combination for growing the next generation of fandom. ”

That’s why Demoff planted his flag about the Rams’ growing presence and briefly warned the Dodgers and Lakers that the Rams were coming to the fore in the Los Angeles market.

Demoff, however, understands how complicated this market is compared to the rest of the country. His priority since the team left St. Louis in 2016 was to make Southern California fall in love with the Rams again.

Demoff quickly gained a confidence boost, despite having the stars aligned in this run to the Super Bowl.

“That’s probably the wrong thing to say,” Demoff said seconds after the announcement. “I absolutely believe we can be at the level of the Dodgers and the Lakers have been and continue to be. But those teams have had decades of success and championships and built a deeply cross-cultural fan base, stars, legends, Hall of Famers and built on consistency. ”


The Rams are steps and years away from achieving the fame of the Lakers and Dodgers, and the national perception of football in Los Angeles agrees. Outsiders believe that the 18 million people scattered across Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties are not as passionate about football as their respective fan bases.

It’s hard to disagree and buy what Demoff is selling because it wasn’t long ago that San Francisco 49ers fans infiltrated the Rams home twice in a month. Petty thieves are back on social media this week after the Rams had an unimpressive vote at Oaks Christian High School in Westlake Village for a fan protest with the big Bengals show at Paul Brown Stadium.

The Los Angeles area has its flaws when it comes to supporting local teams, but the people here care and it takes a long time for them to make an impression. The LA market is complex but rich with football tradition and fandom.

Jackie Slater of Rams Hall of Fame strike team doesn’t want Demoff to lower his confidence because he remembers when the Rams were king of LA before the 1980s, when Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won championships for the Lakers and Fernandomania take over Dodger Stadium.

“I was sitting on that bench down there in Anaheim and I looked over and Magic Johnson was giving me a thumbs up,” recalls Slater.

The magic of his first appearance at Anaheim Stadium shows how beloved the Rams were in this market before they ran to St. Louis and played there from 1995 to 2015.

The Rams have made a lot of progress when it comes to the annual playoffs with Coach Sean McVay, but they have more work to do to get to the level of the Lakers and Dodgers. The Chargers, who arrived in 2017 after 56 seasons in San Diego, have more work to do, but they have their main draw in star defender Justin Herbert.

The NFL in Los Angeles needs jobs, but the area is passionate about football, from Inglewood to Carson, Long Beach, Santa Ana, Whitter, Pasadena, Palmdale, Van Nuys, Oxnard. The Greater LA area, the second largest metropolitan area in the country, will be introduced Sunday afternoon for Super Bowl LVI.

The quarterback coach, Danny Hernandez, works with Trevon Towns Jr.


The list of current college defenders Danny Hernandez has helped the groom is long and impressive.

The local quarterback has coached Alabama’s Bryce Young, Clemson’s DJ Uiagalelei, Colorado’s JT Shrout, Texas’ Maalik Murphy, Michigan’s Katin Houser and Michigan’s Jayden Denegal. They all grew up in the Los Angeles area.

“It’s a wide range and I didn’t mean to name drop or anything,” said Hernandez, a personal trainer and founder of Los Angeles Dimes.

Hernandez could have come up with more names, especially if he wasn’t limited to midfielders from Southern California. Rumors are starting to spread about Hernandez and that has led to young quarterbacks from across the country coming to Los Angeles to work with the San Gabriel Valley native.

Hernandez doesn’t want to brag about his midfield roster, but he should. Not many Mexican-American football coaches are doing what he’s doing. He’s paving the way for more youth and high school Latinos across the greater LA area. Football in LA is diverse and full of talent.

But Hernandez can do his job so well that his students are becoming exports. Decorated college coaches like Alabama’s Nick Saban and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney are recruiting LA’s best quarterbacks and getting them out of state for college.

“These (Southern California) kids are relentless in their pursuit of the best,” says Hernandez, who is also a coach at QB Collective. “They are after the best coach. Are they after the best school, the best opportunity and why would it stop there? They’ll also want the best in the college football space, and what’s the best? What’s on your checklist? A program with great culture. A show that gets the boys involved (NFL) consistently. ”

Local quarterbacks, such as Ohio State’s CJ Stroud and Ole Miss’ Matt Corral, cannot be blamed for leaving the state to face the best contest in the country.

Over the decades, some of the best NFL and college football players have come from the LA area and its more than 600 high schools, and the abundance of talented young quarterbacks from the area is an example. Another perfect example. They may not have played at USC and UCLA, but they were raised and cared for in Southern California.

Ohio Buckeyes quarterback CJ Stroud No. 7 plays against the Utah Utes during the second half of the 108th Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on Saturday, January 1, 2022. (Picture by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)


The abundance of talent from the region shows that this market is very interested in football. But to make things clear, USC and UCLA will need to start winning again and draw in sold-out crowds at their respective prestigious home venues, the LA Memorial Coliseum and Rose Bowl.

“Nothing tops the Rose Bowl with 100,000 for games against USC or Oklahoma,” said Chargers rerun Joshua Kelley, who played at UCLA. “It’s still the best venue I’ve played in and that includes the NFL.”

Kelley’s Chargers teammate, Uchenna Nwosu, disagreed with him choosing the best venue in the country. Nwosu liked the Colosseum as a USC alum.

“I definitely agree that people are oversleeping in LA football culture and how big it is here and how many people actually watch USC football,” said Nwosu, a Chargers promoter. know.

Former NFL defensive quarterback Frostee Rucker won the national championship at USC in the early 2000s alongside teammates Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush. Those USC teams went with the same wave of popularity here as the Lakers with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.

“Energy and the way we use electricity on the football field,” Rucker said of why his college team was able to capture LA’s attention. “Nearly every player I ever played with made it to the NFL. We put on a program. We have arrived at showtime. We were the champions and everyone showed up. The reason they remodeled (the Colosseum) was because we were already there and they kept getting bigger and bigger.

“The stadium is now built to accommodate the growth Lincoln Riley can bring.”

Riley, the new USC coach, has a lot of pressure to turn the Trojans into a powerhouse again. There’s pressure because LA football fans care. They just have different ways of displaying it.

But Rucker’s USC teams have provided a blueprint for how LA NFL teams can rise to the fame of the Lakers and Dodgers.


Los Angeles wants championships, star power and tradition.

The Rams have star players with Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr., Aaron Donald, Von Miller and Jalen Ramsey.

They have the attention of LA. This is their second Super Bowl appearance in four seasons. However, they will need to win Super Bowls to capture this market’s attention. Maybe then they’ll get back to the rich traditions they had before leaving for the Midwest.

Football fans from the LA area were divided in various directions as the NFL exited the nation’s second-largest market in two decades.

“It’s not about offending fans,” Demoff said. “Someone who grew up in Pittsburgh and moved to LA as a Steelers fan. That would be great if it happened, but that might not be realistic. It’s about their kids, 8, 9, 10 year olds growing up wearing Cooper Kupp jerseys, wearing Aaron Donald jerseys and becoming lifelong Rams fans. ”

The Chargers are behind in the winning category and, aside from the franchise’s inaugural season in 1960 before moving south, there’s no history the Rams had with Los Angeles before moving to St. Louis. And it doesn’t help that the Chargers have for decades been a rival to the Raiders, arguably LA’s favorite NFL team.

Raids fans from Los Angeles were at the Black Hole in Oakland and Las Vegas – another unique way the market supports football.

But the Chargers showed progress in the LA market during their first season at SoFi Stadium with fans.

“I feel the support and I can see it,” said Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco. “I saw it on game day, which this year will be completely new. We didn’t know what we were going to see in our first year in a new stadium, which was basically a new market for us. I think there’s a lot to be proud of about this team and the way they play. ”

https://www.ocregister.com/2022/02/13/los-angeles-loves-football-but-the-relationship-is-deep-and-complex/ Los Angeles loves football but the relationship is deep and complicated – Orange County Register

Huynh Nguyen

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