By Erik Ho
Who wouldn’t cheer for head coach Sean McVay’s Los Angeles Rams after a Monday night record win for both the franchise and the NFL (3rd highest scoring game ever. They sported their yellow color rush uniforms and put up 54 points on the Kansas City Chiefs. The last time the Rams scored over 53 points was during the ’96 and ’76 seasons. Ironically, both wins were against the Falcons and the Rams scored 59 points in both games.
A moment like the Monday Night Football victory makes me especially proud to have the Los Angeles Rams back in their true home. I am an L.A. native and so are my parents. My father was always a Rams fan and my maternal grandfather was also a big fan.
Where it started
I grew up in a Rams-loyal family with a sports fan father who watched Sunday NFL games religiously. My dad also grew up near the Los Angeles Coliseum and always did his best to catch a game. My grandpa was a former Franklin High School football lineman recruited by USC, but he chose to serve in the U.S. Navy instead. Following his discharge from the Navy, he made use of his G.I. Bill funds and played football at John Muir Junior College in Pasadena. Years later, he tried out of the Rams. He said he did well, but the pay wasn’t enough! He made more money working a regular job. Oh how the times have changed!
Personal introduction to the L.A. Rams
I remember my family sitting at the dining room table and talking about the great Rams of the past. These were guys before my time, but my father and grandfather knew them well. I heard names like Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch, Norm Van Brocklin, Bob Waterfield, the Fearsome Foursome, Jack Youngblood, and Roman Gabriel. The list went on like a sports almanac. My grandfather even remembered when some of these guys played college ball My dad and I were fans of the old ’80s show “Hunter,” starring former Rams player Fred Dryer.
I even have a picture of me taken circa 1980 holding a Rams football. The previous 1979 season was a phenomenal one where they played the Steelers in their first ever Super Bowl, although they lost 31-19. It’s my earliest memory I have of me holding a football. That Rams logo embedded itself in my brain and kept me loyal all these years.
I also remember a Rams poster my mom gave me when I was in elementary school. It was a new roster for one of the mid-1980s seasons. I can’t exactly remember everyone on that poster, but I do remember seeing the great Eric Dickerson’s name and face in one of the boxes along with Jim Everett and Jackie Slater.
High school memories
Fast forward to my high school years. The 1990s Rams suffered multiple losing seasons, but I stayed loyal to L.A. They were our team, and I was determined to support them no matter how bad the games or seasons were. Most of my friends were Raiders guys or 49ers fans, but a few pulled for the Rams. I never hated the Raiders or the 49ers growing up. I knew they had done great, which was a great thing for West Coast football. And I liked a lot of their players.
Los Angeles did have one Super Bowl title thanks to the Raiders in ’83. This was the era when many Angelenos became Raider fans. Not only was their record good, but their colors and Raiders gear were ideal for gangs or gangster rappers like NWA. In fact, our junior high and high school had to ban the wearing of that gear due to gang affiliations in the Los Angeles area.
I had no interest in gangs or drugs, so the Rams gear was fine for, but no one seemed to be sporting the blue and gold around school or in my neighborhood. Throughout most of the early 90s, the Rams were kind of in the background most of the time. Students actually razzed me about being a Rams fan.
The Rams’ struggles made them a joke in popular television shows like “Married with Children,” but you couldn’t help but be good-humored about it. It “was what it was” as they say.
Love for the Rams grew
My love for the game increased ten-fold when I played football in high school. Learning the plays firsthand helped learn the ins and outs of the sport. I soon began watching college and NFL games like never before. It made my day to catch a Rams game and watch Jerome Bettis run the ball.
I watched my first Rams game in person in 1994, when the Rams played the New Orleans Saints. Former Rams quarterback Jim Everett was playing for New Orleans and everyone cheered when he was sacked toward the end of the game. What a turn of events to see a former Rams QB be so disliked. Los Angeles lost that game at the “Big A” (Anaheim Stadium), but it was one I will never forget, especially the moment when the Rams scored and a fountain of beer poured on our heads when the guys sitting behind us jumped up. It was accidental, of course, but we had to be careful on that ride back to Glendale from Anaheim. “Just pray CHP doesn’t pull us over with us smelling like beer,” I said.
Move to St. Louis
It bummed me out when Georgia Frontiere moved the team to St. Louis. Why would they move there? “L.A. cant’ lose football!” I said to myself. I heard about how St. Louis was building a new stadium for them and how ownership wanted to get out of L.A. It was an unfortunate time for Los Angeles sports having lost both the Rams and the Raiders (back to Oakland) after in the 1994 season.
This, in my opinion, was the official start of a generation of young Los Angeles-area fans who would never know what it was like to have the NFL in town. Would the Rams ever come back? Would people cheer for them or even remember them after 20 years? Who will come back to Los Angeles? Will they create an expansion team?
The Raiders bounced after a quick 13 seasons. The Rams blazed a trail in 48 years calling Los Angeles home.
Still, I stayed loyal to the Rams. They were always going to be the Los Angeles Rams to me and my family (as we would always tell each other), but I slowly grew somewhat comfortable with their new St. Louis moniker. They continued to struggle, but I kept faith in the team. That faith paid off in the 1999 season.
A Super Bowl Champion and more
Kurt Warner came out of nowhere, and I had good reason to be proud of my Rams. I had just transferred to Hardin-Simmons University where most of the students were Cowboys or former Oilers (turned Titans) fans. After an incredible, “Greatest Show on Turf” season, they made it to the Super Bowl in 2000. Our school had a watch party in the main auditorium, and I was the only person cheering for the Rams! One guy on my dorm hall was a big Kurt Warner fan. We both talked about his amazing rags to riches story.
Their first ever Super Bowl win was huge for me. I could not believe what I experienced that entire season and that it paid off after so many years. I kept thinking to myself, “Why couldn’t this have happened while they were in Los Angeles?” My dad and I talked on the phone and said the same thing. It was too bad they still weren’t the L.A. Rams, but we agreed that it was still our team, our franchise and our win.
The Rams continued to do well for the next few seasons. During the 2002 Super Bowl, I expected a rout of the Patriots, but a young Tom Brady did not agree. The Rams seemed to change up their offense and it screwed everything up, but they did made it to another Super Bowl.
I remained loyal, yet again, during the playoff drought years after the Super Bowl appearances. I remember living in Las Vegas and going to the local Rams bar and talking to a long-time Rams fan. He had mentioned the lease where the Rams could leave St. Louis and come back to L.A. This was music to my ears. I didn’t realize that was the deal, but I would believe it when I see it.
Return to L.A.
Sure enough, they came back in 2016. I was ecstatic, elated like so many longtime Rams fans. The campaign to welcome them back and get L.A. fired up for them was a challenge, but it worked. I immediately jumped online to buy tickets to the first preseason home game against the Cowboys in 2016.
I took my father with me to the Coliseum that August afternoon. Parking was crazy expensive, but we found a young guy holding a “$20 parking” sign in front of his house just south of the Coliseum. We paid the 20 bucks and walked the short distance to the entrance. I prayed the car would still there when we came back. After a nice Rams victory, we were fine. The car was still there, untouched!
The following season in 2017 was unbelievable. I was not able to see any games in person, but the Rams leadership and players have made me so proud. What Sean McVay has done for the organization goes beyond anyone’s expectations. The talent on the field is just as incredible.
The 2018 season is looking phenomenal and it’s not over. I could not be happier with my decision to stay loyal to this great team, and to carry the fan torch for the Rams for three generations. My motto will always be “Rams for Life!”