The NFL is in many ways a copycat league. When a team or organization is successful, others will see if what works there could work for them.
So now that the Rams have won three NFC West championships in five seasons and reached their second Super Bowl in the last four under coach Sean McVay, that only means others will also taste the secret sauce, n ‘is this not?
Uh, maybe not.
“I wouldn’t wish that on anyone,” Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff said last week.
“I don’t think there’s anything here that’s repeatable, is there?” I mean, you start with an owner (Stan Kroenke) who gave us every opportunity to spend, to build the most amazing stadium in the world, to spend to the salary cap and more, to build an incredible roster, to take the risk of going to hire a 30-year-old head coach.
“I don’t know if you can try this elsewhere. You can’t try to build SoFi Stadium in any market other than Los Angeles. I don’t know if the way we build and build our team would work in any other market, with any other group, with any other owner. And look, I wouldn’t advise anyone to copy what we’re doing, not because I think they couldn’t. I just think you have to find what’s unique to you and lean into it and make it special.
It’s a unique storyline in Los Angeles, and it goes beyond general manager Les Snead’s overarching philosophy, the culture built by McVay, now 36, and the wealth and will of Kroenke, who had the vision and took the risk to build this stadium.
The Rams’ goals in this market reflect Southern California itself and its intense competition for attention. When the Rams returned in 2016 after 21 seasons away from the NFL, they returned to an even more saturated region than it was before the Rams and Raiders abandoned it in 1995. Two teams from baseball, two NBA teams, two hockey teams and two Power 5 college programs had been joined by two Major League Soccer teams and a WNBA franchise, two leagues that did not yet exist when the Rams and Raiders increased their stakes In 1994.
This is in addition to Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Magic Mountain, Universal Studios, the beach, and a host of other sports, entertainment, and recreation unique to Southern California. The colossal nature of this market makes it ideal for the Super Bowls, but if you’re trying to drive or drive through Inglewood on a Sunday afternoon, you might have second thoughts about it. But that makes daily competition difficult.
And now add to that mix the Rams and Chargers, from a league that traditionally dominates every market it touches but has fallen behind in this one. Making it work in LA takes a lot of humility, even if you’re playing a Super Bowl at your home stadium.
“I absolutely believe we can own this market,” Demoff said during his media session last week, in response to a question about why the NFL might not be as dominant here as it is in other cities. Then he stopped and said, “And I think that’s probably the wrong thing to say. I absolutely believe that we can be at the level (that) the Dodgers and the Lakers have been. These teams have decades of success and championships and have built a fanbase, creating a deep and multicultural fan base. You know, stars, legends, Hall of Famers and consistency.
The opportunity in the spirit of the Super Bowl fortnight, with all the publicity that comes with it, is certainly important in the Rams’ attempt to bolster that fanbase.
“But so is 2022,” Demoff said. “The same goes for 2023. You can’t be at the top of this market by having just one great season. You get to the top of this market by having a great season after a great season after a great decade after a great decade and building fans and generations of fans with it.
“And that only comes with lasting success and sustained investment in the marketplace, in the community, in schools, in building relationships. It doesn’t happen overnight.
The Rams’ adoption of the Watts Rams youth football team is an example of the roots they are trying to plant. They used to be called the Watts Bears, but now they’re so much part of the family – the Ramilys? — that Odell Beckham Jr. was presenting Super Bowl tickets to kids last week. It’s one of many community initiatives the Rams organization has embarked on, and the best example of how this can be successful over the long term is the team that initially tracked the Rams franchise to Los Los Angeles in 1958.
“If you look at the team that was the model in Southern California, it’s the Dodgers, isn’t it?” said longtime agent Leigh Steinberg. “When the Dodgers came in, they had Vin Scully as their announcer, and they went out and marketed the team like they were in Des Moines, Iowa. They have done tremendous community outreach. There were Triple-A nights, Little League nights, and Kiwanis nights, and they built up the concept of going to a Dodger game. It didn’t matter who the pitcher was, it didn’t matter who he was playing against. The concept was that it was an event.
“And the Rams have now created that same dynamic. … They’ve done tremendous community outreach, having their players in the community, having executives in the community, getting involved in local charities.
“What they created was an event destination (at SoFi Stadium) that fits the taste of Los Angeles perfectly,” Steinberg said. “Because we want the most modern, flashiest and most exciting stadium. And they built it. And they had the advantage of every breakthrough in stadium construction that had happened. And so it becomes an event of going to the Ram game. And if it’s an event in Southern California, the harder it is to find tickets, the more people want to come. Right? And they created a star location If you look at the game the other night, they had 10 Hollywood stars and 15 great sports heroes, and they made it a place to go.
LA loves winners, star quality and an exciting product. Check, check and check. And the Rams did it like a big market team, and especially one in this market, should. If you don’t have stars or impact players, do whatever you have to do to get them.
Demoff grew up in Los Angeles, the son of agent Marvin Demoff, so he understands. He was here for “Showtime” with the Lakers, and Fernandomania with the Dodgers, and the Wayne Gretzky trade that not only transformed the franchise from the Kings to Los Angeles, but hockey throughout the Sun Belt.
“Certainly when you look at Los Angeles, the teams that have been synonymous with victory have had star power,” Demoff said. “And maybe that’s unique to this market, but it was definitely a blueprint that was provided to generations of Angelenos to figure out how to win.
“And I think that was Stan’s challenge for us. It doesn’t have to be the same. But you know what it looks like.
It probably wouldn’t work as well elsewhere. It remains to be seen how long it will last here. Being in SoCal certainly doesn’t guarantee there won’t be downtime, and the diverse nature of this market means not everyone will be on board. All of those red-clad fans in the stadium for the past two meetings with the San Francisco 49ers have been reminded that winning hearts and minds is going to be an uphill battle.
And they’re inspired by the Clippers, their future neighbors in Inglewood: get the kids on board.
“There are so many fans who grew up from 1995 to 2016 without a team to support…so many parents and people who moved here during that time who are cheering on other teams, as they should be,” Demoff said. “(He) is not about someone who is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan who grew up in Pittsburgh and moved to Los Angeles to become a Rams fan. It’s great if that happens, but it might not be realistic.
“It’s about their kids, who are eight, nine, 10, growing up wearing Cooper Kupp jerseys, Aaron Donald jerseys and becoming lifelong Rams fans. And that’s what these two weeks (pre-Super Bowl) are really about. That’s what this season is about. »
Only in Los Angeles, right?
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