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Why fears of a Bay Area invasion exposes deeper issues for Rams

Legions of 49ers fans will be flocking to attend the NFC Championship at SoFi Stadium on Sunday

NFL: Super Bowl LVI-City Views Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The last thing Los Angeles Rams fans and players want to see at SoFi Stadium this weekend for the NFC Championship are stands backed with 49ers faithful. Besides a loss, I can’t imagine a more painful experience the Rams should have to suffer through. Much like Thanos, Niners’ fans are inevitable.

However, the way Los Angeles has attempted to combat this issue has rightfully received criticism from just about everyone.

Following the heart-stopping win over the Bucs last weekend, attention quickly shifted towards the finale of the 49ers-Rams 2021 trilogy. Fans scrambled to buy tickets to one of the biggest games of the NFL campaign, but came to realize not everyone could do it. This was due to a notice on Ticketmaster informing customers that only those with a Los Angeles-based zip code could purchase tickets.

Why? Try an estimated 65-percent of 49ers fans packing the stands of SoFi Stadium on Sunday.

LA felt the need to limit purchases based on their 27-24 overtime loss to the Faithful in Week 18. SoFi turned into Levi’s Stadium South because of the absurd presence of Niners fans. The Bay Area invasion was so dominant that the Rams offense was unable to hear signals at the line of scrimmage and Matthew Stafford had to use a silent count. Essentially, the LA Rams got a sneak preview of what it’s like to go to a Chargers game. I suppose that was payback for persistently mocking our roommate since they moved in.

While the Rams rushed to limit ticket sales faster than those in power trying to take away your voting rights, the team failed to realize a key foil in their diabolical plan. Did they realize that (God forbid) some 49ers fans live in the Los Angeles area? Plus, San Francisco isn’t all that far from the City of Angels so it’s not exactly a surprise that some Niners fans might reside in enemy territory. Regardless, the move proved cowardly and happened to anger a certain superstar SF player who was a headache to stop the last time the teams met.

The ban has since been lifted but the damage is already done. Not to mention, this policy irked Deebo Samuel who I imagine we wouldn’t like getting angry much like the Hulk. This ban has bubbled LA’s deepest insecurities to the surface for all the league to see. Los Angeles isn’t just afraid of a Niners takeover, they’ve become desperate to be loved in a city where they’ve been a bit of an afterthought since relocating from St Louis. In a city with the Lakers and Dodgers, how could you be anything but insecure?

Want to attend the game to keep Rams fans at Rams games? Grab your tickets here.

Dylan Hernández, a sports columnist for the Los Angeles Times wrote on these issues in an article on Tuesday. One of the most notable items Hernández included in his article was how desperate the Rams have been in a city they’ve been trying to win back after a lengthy absence.

“They traded for a No. 1 overall pick. They hired a rock star coach. They became contenders. They opened a breathtaking stadium. Presented with an opportunity to play a Super Bowl in this new stadium, they went all-in by stockpiling superstars.

What the Rams are dealing with now are the remnants of the NFL’s decision to desert this market for more than two decades.” said Hernández via the LA Times

Moves like the Rams have made in the six years since returning to LA were incredibly aggressive and necessary in trying to get the city to love them again. How much have these moves worked out, especially after trading for a star signal caller and a future Hall of Fame linebacker midseason? In terms of home attendance during the 2021 regular season, the Rams slotted in at number eight. A top-10 finish is where one should expect a big market team like LA to land, but to end outside of the top-five should considered a Razzie-worthy performance in the spirit of Hollywood.

The teams who finished higher than the Rams were your usual suspects. Dallas and Green Bay held spots one and two. I believe if Jerry World finished any lower than two it’d be deemed as much of a disappointment as his product on the field has been for the past 26 years. Others included the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos. None of those teams were a surprise, but the three other franchises that finished better than LA should be.

The Carolina Panthers, and both the New York “teams” had higher attendance than Los Angeles. These three “teams” finished 2021 with a combined of 13-38, or a winning percentage that amounts to “just awful”. While a respectable position for most teams, this is unacceptable for a franchise set in a major media powerhouse. So what should the Rams do to reverse their fortunes? Maybe not make a classless remark as Hernández did in thrashing the city Rams ownership desperately had to rid themselves of:

“Something like this is bound to unfold every now and then until there’s a generation of Angelenos that views the Rams as Los Angeles’ team and Los Angeles’ team only, rather than a refugee from a dump of a city in the Midwest.”

Um, yeah...not the best look. I wouldn’t call St Louis a “dump of a city” by any means. This is a city home to the Gateway Arch, Blues, Cardinals and my personal favorite, toasted ravioli. I’m not sure why Hernández has beef with St Louis. I’m thinking he once got toasted ravioli without marinara to dip them in and he’s been bitter ever since. That would tick me off some but not enough to crap on an entire city.

To say the history between the city of St Louis and Rams ownership/NFL is complicated would be the most severe understatement in league history. I’m not going to dive into that exhaustive history because it’s a lot so just look up on your own time. Back in November 2021, Rams owner Stan Kroenke paid $790 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the city of St. Louis over the team’s relocation to Los Angeles. It was Kroenke’s long-held mission to ditch the Gateway to the West and he didn’t care how many hearts he had to rip out and toss into the Mississippi River to do it. The central reason for relocating was Los Angeles provided more opportunities for viewership and sponsors that St Louis couldn’t provide.

The St Louis response to Hernández’s article and bitterness towards the Rams current success was quite passionate. Did anyone think the city would sit around and take the abuse? Rams fans there had to deal with Jeff Fisher near the end, I think they can handle anything thrown their way now.

I believe what we’ve seen from the Rams’ response to the influx of 49ers fans invading their home for the second time this month is an act of desperation including a longing to be loved in their hometown once more. As we’ve seen through their flashy behaviors since returning to Hollywood, they’ll do anything to get the spotlight shining on them.

LA’s treatment of the city where they won their first and only Super Bowl to date was just plain wrong and disrespectful, leaving the citizens of St Louis bitter over losing their beloved franchise. I would be hard-pressed in believing that whatever remains of the St Louis Rams fanbase would be rooting for an LA victory Sunday. It’s not right to tell them to get over losing their team because no one exactly gets over a situation like that. What happened between St Louis and Los Angeles is a masterclass in the ugliness of a relocation. Words get said, feelings get hurt and soon enough, the divorce is finalized while both sides continue to point the finger at the other.

LA chased grass that was far greener and flashier on the other side of the country. St Louis may get the last laugh should the Rams lose against the Niners, but they can’t help but feel a bit of their soul crushed every time they see Kroenke’s shiny new toy under the primetime lights.

But don’t you worry, this is what the Rams asked for, remember?