Six years ago, upon their return to Los Angeles after a two-decade absence, UC Irvine stands for bouquets training camp were a sea of jerseys from other NFL teams. The Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, then Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers seemed omnipresent.
do not die
The Super Bowl effect was fully effective during the Rams’ training camp, which ended on Wednesday.
The Rams estimated nearly 100,000 fans attended 10 free public practices. Most appeared to be wearing Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald, Matthew Stafford or Jalen Ramsey jerseys. Gold t-shirts and caps commemorating the Rams Super Bowl LVI victory on the Cincinnati Bengals at SoFi Stadium.
“We talked about it so much in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl: what the Super Bowl in Los Angeles would do. What a win that would be,” Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff said. “I don’t think you can underestimate that.”
Robert Gonzalez of Culver City was among those celebrating the surge.
During a practice last week, Gonzalez held up a large printed cutout of Kupp’s face with a crown atop his head. Kupp won the so-called Triple Crown by leading the NFL in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown catches.
After the Super Bowl victory, Gonzalez said he asked his boss at a signage company if he could buy some materials to make some signs featuring Kupp, Donald and the Super Bowl trophy. He took them to the Rams’ victory parade, and coach Sean McVay and the players recognized him as they passed by on the bus.
“I made my heaven,” Gonzalez said.
In 2016, Gonzalez made friendly attempts to convert Cowboys fans who attended training camp and Rams games at the Coliseum. I knew it might take a while.
“They laughed — they had fun with it,” Gonzalez said. “It wasn’t until we got to SoFi that everyone started feeling it and saying, ‘Hey, this might work. And it’s going to take a little time.
“But the culture is back.”
Chris Manley got a dose when he walked past stands full of Rams fans while wearing a Seattle Seahawks jersey.
Rams fans booed him good-naturedly.
“You’re going to expect some criticism,” Manley said with a laugh, “but it was nothing too serious.”
Manley, a Florida native who lives in Orange County, grew up with the Seahawks since yesterday. I bought tickets to a 2021 Rams-Seahawks game when they went on sale and attended Rams training camp last year.
Last week, Manley was eager to salute the six-time All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagnermaking his first appearance in training camp with the Rams after 10 seasons with the Seahawks.
“Hey, 45, where are you?” Manley screamed when Wagner came off the field to get clear. “I have some questions.”
It doesn’t matter what the team’s fans are looking for, according to Manley.
“We are all here because we love the game,” he said.
Rams owner Stan Kroenke has bought a property in Woodland Hills, and he should build at complex which will house the team’s football and business operations as well as a mixed-use development.
But the Rams aren’t expected to move training camp from their current setup anytime soon.
McVay said it was beneficial to be away from the team’s facility in Thousand Oaks for training camp.
“You have to let your team come together organically and really become that family,” he said on Wednesday. “Create these connections where I don’t think it can be forced.
“I think those settings allow that to exist naturally, which maybe sometimes wouldn’t exist if you were staying at home.”
The Rams are trying to become the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowl titles since the 2004 season, when the New England Patriots accomplished the feat. If the Rams repeat themselves, the fanbase would seemingly multiply.
Demoff was thrilled with the increased fan interest during training camp, which is translating into ticket and merchandise sales.
Six years later, the Rams have made progress.
“But hopefully,” Demoff said, “in six years it’s all double.”