Fans are counting on a smaller fan base and boasting of a hopeful future

LOS ANGELES — Leon Polk has taken off his Los Angeles Rams face mask to sing with the crowd. “Whose house? Rams House!”

Watching the sea of ​​fans as the team celebrated their Super Bowl victory with a parade and rally on Wednesday, the 76-year-old Los Angeles native recalled all the games his parents took him to as a child just in down the street. at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

When the team left for two decades to play in St. Louis, many fans deserted to cheer on a new team. But Sunday’s victory led some to believe it was a hopeful new start for the team, which returned for the 2016 season, in a competitive city of nearly a dozen teams. major league professional sports.

“I’ve watched them forever, so this win feels so sweet. It’s like they’ve really come home now,” Polk said, donning head-to-toe Rams gear. “It could really mark the next generation for the team and for LA as a football city.”

Explosions of royal blue and yellow confetti blanketed the roads as the team rode on double-decker buses. Players smoked cigars and drank bottles of champagne as they waved to the sea of ​​fans that lined the streets.

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“We are the world champions! defensive lineman Aaron Donald shouted at the fans in the meantime, taking sips from his bottle of champagne.

Fans shouted and blew megaphones. The strong smell of marijuana and hot dogs filled the air. Vendors donated gear and food to the Rams, with some even selling $5 Modelo beers and Patron shots.

The parade offered a chance for fans old and new to celebrate not only the Rams’ Super Bowl victory, but also the spate of league titles won over the past two years in the city by the Lakers in 2020 and the Dodgers. in 2021. Both teams could not hold parades due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Three chips in three years. There’s a lot to celebrate,” 22-year-old Mendel Schochet said.

Amid the sea of ​​blue and yellow were many donning Dodgers and Lakers gear. Even Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp wore a Lakers jersey, later telling the crowd during the rally that late Lakers player Kobe Bryant was “one of them.”

Many parade-goers, like Schochet, acknowledged the Rams’ smaller fanbase, but said the Super Bowl victory portends a bright future for the franchise.

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Buses carrying Los Angeles Rams players and coaches drive past fans during the team's victory parade in Los Angeles, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022, following their Sunday victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in the game of NFL Super Bowl 56 football.

“Any team that leaves a city for 25 years won’t have a strong youth fan base,” he said. “But when you win like that it gets fans, then when I have kids they’ll be fans and that’s how you build a strong fan base.”

Many on social media mocked the Rams at the smaller crowds at the parade, comparing it to previous celebrations for other teams. But dedicated fans hope this is just the start of a new generation for the team.

Sauly Tinoco, 32, parked his wagon, snacks and four children – ages 3, 4, 7 and 11 – along the parade route. Each was dressed head to toe in Rams gear, two blowing through large blue megaphones.

“It will be a memory for them,” Tinoco said. “I wanted them to have this moment for the city. They will be fans for life.”

USA Today

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