When most metropolitan cities embrace an athlete, it’s a mix of several things that includes statistics, championships, and a player’s ability to embrace themselves to the community. However, in Los Angeles, the city where everyone has a headshot in their trunk and a story about how Andy Dick totally weirded them out in a parking lot, fans are attracted to what I like to call the “charismatic killer.” A player with a mega-watt smile that isn’t just great, but dramatically so.
When fans witness an amazing game by this kind of player in LA, it’s not just a highlight reel.
It’s a story to be told to their kids.
Magic Johnson is the classic example of this type of star whose existence feels written by Hollywood scribes. And what about Wayne Gretzky? You bet. Sandy Koufax, if you remember him, absolutely. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and Kobe Bryant also found ways to electrify the city because they made their games feel like a show that could rival anything playing at the Hollywood Bowl. And with the arrival of LeBron James, a player that obviously fits this mold, one begins to wonder how the Los Angeles Rams will be able to grow their fan base in this manner.
Watching the happenings at training camp unfold, it’s clear that the LA Rams have a LOT of star power, but which of these players will entice fans to buy tickets or a jersey (that will change in two years)? If this was a blue collar city like Philly, Green Bay, or even Chicago, I’d say that DL Aaron Donald could be the player that you make a gigantic banner of and drape it on the side of the stadium. And if QB Jared Goff develops into the type of player that seethes with competitive vibes like QB Tom Brady or QB Brett Favre, then sure. However, Goff boned his first impression with Los Angeles — when you talk to people around here, they feel like the young QB sounds like a dum dum.
Can he turn things around? Of course. Hollywood loves a comeback story and he’s well on his way. I think Goff is great and I have a lot of confidence in him, but does he have Gretzey-like potential? Are kids going to have a poster of him shade-tipping as he leans against a Tesla with the Hollywood sign behind him? Do kids even hang posters of athletes anymore?
With the recent contract extension of RB Todd Gurley last week, I believe the Rams have pushed their fame chips to the center of the table. With last season in which Gurley racked up 788 yards receiving in addition to his 1,305 yards rushing, Gurley feels like a less salty version of USC and Los Angeles Raiders star RB Marcus Allen; but only time will time, but he’s well on his way to becoming a big deal in this city.
However, if Lebron gets the Los Angeles Lakers deep into the playoffs, Todd Gurley needs to do the same. He needs to show that he’s a charismatic killer.
Gurley has the flashy moves. He has the fire in his eyes and the swagger at the microphone. He has the advertisement deals... all he needs is a stadium at capacity that’s ready to be entertained.
And a time to shine...