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The Los Angeles Rams Need Someone To Fill The Shoes Of Chris Long...Off The Field

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As the Rams look to build their brand on the West Coast with an eye toward their new home opening in 2020, the Rams need an ambassador to connect with fans and the community in an authentic way that doesn’t come from the marketing department.

St. Louis Rams DE Chris Long
St. Louis Rams DE Chris Long
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

This week, all of SB Nation’s NFL sites are looking at how NFL players are making an impact in their communities. From Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt’s incredible fundraising for his team’s home city trying to rebuild in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey to Pittsburgh Steelers OT Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army Ranger, donating proceeds from his jersey sales to the USO, teams and players make substantial impacts off the field all the time in meaningful ways, not just after disasters, be they natural or PR.

The Rams have always done the same, whether it’s in St. Louis or in Los Angeles. In the last 48 hours, the Rams as an operation have made three off-field ventures alone to donate their time to the local community. WR Paul McRoberts and members of the Rams staff helped renovate a local elementary school outdoor area:

Rams staff helped pick oranges for a local food bank:

And the Rams, along with OL Rodger Saffold, recognized two LAPD officers for their efforts in the academic community working with local children:

As a recent release from the Rams stated:

Each month, the Rams front office staff takes time out of the office to volunteer with local non-profits. During the team’s first year home in Los Angeles, Rams employees provided more than 2,000 hours of community service and impacted 10 local non-profits and 19 schools. Since January of 2017, the team has volunteered with six local non-profits and 25 schools through the Staff Day of Service program.

The Rams have constantly been a force for good off the field. But something’s missing.

As I thought about who from the Rams I would highlight as part of this series, I realized that the one Ram that came to mind isn’t a Ram anymore: DE Chris Long.

Over at Bleeding Green Nation, the SBN community for fans of the Philadelphia Eagles, they singled out Long for this series for his donation of his first six game checks to fund scholarships in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, following the events there last month. Long spearheaded Waterboys, an initiative across the NFL that builds wells and improves access to clean water in East Africa. And in 2015, Long and fellow defensive lineman William Hayes went undercover to show what it was like to be homeless and to show the world as much on ESPN. It was a powerful segment that exemplified how powerful Long’s efforts were off the field and all the good he championed as a figure in the St. Louis community in his eight season with the Rams.

So as I thought of our theme this week, what I ultimately left with was a feeling that the Rams need a Chris Long in LA.

While the team continues to perform great charitable works in the community and deserves to be commended for it, they’re lacking a talisman or ambassador of sorts to represent all the good works they do.

This is a franchise trying to rebuild, or build from scratch, a home fan base to fill the seats in the Coliseum and ultimately the seats in their new home when it opens in 2020. The focus on building the on-field product is certainly justified. But for the Los Angeles Rams to really, truly be home, they need someone who can really represent the ethos of the team and live the brand in an authentic and personal way outside the safe space of the Rams’ meeting space or playing fields.

Someone will come along to do that. It may even be someone on the roster now. But in thinking of who represents the Rams’ community efforts best, my first thought went to Chris Long which should tell you how valuable of an ambassador, and how giving of a man, he truly was for this team.

And how badly the Rams need someone like him again in their new home.