MMQB's Emily Kaplan went to Los Angeles to talk about the prospect of football in LA and gauge the market. She essentially found three things:
- Nobody likes football teams when they lose.
- Not everyone on Earth loves football. Especially when you're constantly used as a toy.
- Angelenos are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Los Angeles.
One of the odd things in this whole story has been the pro-LA contingent prodding St. Louis for less than stellar attendance at Rams games. It's not untrue, but it avoids the context of how bad the Rams have been in the last decade.
The Rams had the worst five-year run, from 2007 to 2011, of any team in NFL history. Again, emphasis mine: the Rams had THE WORST FRIGGING FIVE YEARS OF ANY NFL TEAM EVER HOW DO I STILL HAVE EYEBALLS WHAT IS JOY. The extremity of that has been entirely underplayed throughout the LA-STL discussions. To have a market study that alludes to on-field success "waning" is being nice. Very nice. Too nice. We're talking about the worst five years EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THE NFL sandwiched by three non-winning seasons on each side. That's not "waned" success.
LA fans know this. The five final years in Los Angeles for the Rams saw them pile up a 23-57 record. I remember it well. Being a Rams fan growing up in Dallas during the early 1990s is among the worst experiences of my life. Thanks, fate.
So it should come as no surprise to hear LA fans express a lack of vocal commitment to a team that isn't exactly lighting the NFL world on fire.
"I don’t care if this sounds bad," says Melly Juliana, a 24-year-old model. "I probably wouldn’t go to an NFL game in L.A. unless the team was good."
Decades ago, attendance at L.A. Rams games whittled when the team struggled. After their 1990 NFC Championship Game appearance, the Rams went 23-57 over their next five seasons. Through the last four, they ranked in the league’s bottom six in attendance. Their final game in L.A., a 24-21 loss to Washington on Christmas Eve in ’94, drew only 25,705 to Anaheim Stadium—590 fewer than a high school game at the same venue eight days earlier. In 1980, the Rams’ first season in Anaheim, they averaged 62,550 fans.
Says safety Anthony Newman, who played for the Rams from 1988-94: "Towards the end, you couldn’t help but think if we did better, more fans would come and maybe the team would have stayed."
Tom Anderson, a 64-year-old IT specialist, tailgated at or attended every Rams game with his father from 1980 to 1991. But when the team struggled to win? "Those last few years we’d go sometimes, but often just watched at home," Anderson says. "It wasn’t fun anymore."
When the Rams left, Anderson’s attachment to the team cooled. He still loves the NFL, but enjoys watching from his couch, where he can follow fantasy stats on his laptop and eat nachos with his wife. "If they come back, I probably won’t go," he says. "Not worth my money."
Shot out to 64-year old IT specialist Tom Anderson for (a) his Rams fandom and (b) watching football the right way - on the coach with your significant other and some damn nachos.
Well done, Tom.
Used And Feeling Abused
It's hard to summon the same level of excitement for each round of rumors if you're an Angeleno. But the Rams are a singular entity in the LA football zeitgeist, apart from the college game that dominates the city thanks to USC and UCLA.
"Nobody made a peep when other teams were going to come," says Ed Rodriguez, who drives a Red Line bus from the Civic Center to Studio City in Downtown L.A. "They only get all worked up over the Rams."
Ramon Santos, 25, grew up in Central L.A. huddling around a television with relatives at cookouts every Sunday for Rams games—but they’ve been in St. Louis since he was 4. "It would be unreal to be able to watch a game live with my father and grandfather," says Santos, who works at an entertainment law firm. "And carry that tradition, a true tradition, down to my children."
LA fans have been through this...a lot. But the Rams are a different opportunity for the city compared to the other franchises who have flirted.
Los Angeles Is Very Los Angeles
This is an incomplete list of contributors to Kaplan's article:
- The aforementioned Melly Juliana, 24-year-old model. If you are Melly Juliana, you have to (a) be a model and (b) move to LA once of legal age. Ms. Juliana was not allowed to make a decision in these matters.
- Cash Warren, "a Hollywood fixture who is perhaps most well known as the husband of actress Jessica Alba"
- Steph Tran, 26, a Dreamworks employee
- Actor Eddie Choi (Wolf of Wall Street, Sons of Anarchy)
- Roger "Speedy" Gonzales, "a legendary trainer at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club"
- Taylor Smith, a 20-year-old, and these quotes are mine and substituted in lieu of me doing them with my hands in the air as I say this, "actor"
- Danielle Johnson, a 22-year-old clothing designer, who asked "Isn’t there already a football team in L.A.? No seriously, isn't there?" I am in love with Danielle.
- Jon Davis, a 40-year old whose profession goes unlisted but is attributed due to his "stretching before hitting the water for an afternoon of surfing"
- 24-year-old Javier Panzar, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times
- and yes, Connor Ames, 25, a production assistant on Keeping Up with the Kardashians
Los Angeles is the most Los Angeles city ever.