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You never give up

It’s easy to quit, but football was never meant to be easy

Los Angeles Rams defeated the Atlanta Falcons 31-27 during a NFL football game. Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” - Thomas Edison

Say what you will about the lightbulb (personally, I’ve always preferred darkness, the cold reminder that we are alone in the universe), Edison knew everything about quitting. More specifically, he knew everything about not quitting.

“I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”

Good news for Sean McVay and Les Snead. They haven’t had any failures this season. They’ve only found 10,000 plays and about 25 players who will not work. But that doesn’t mean that the 3-8 Rams get to quit with six games left on the schedule.

You never quit in the NFL. As soon as a team lets up on the gas and accepts defeat, the rest of the league smells blood in the water and you may not breathe air again for decades. Some might even say, you won’t breathe again from... 2005 to 2016.

That’s when the Rams changed. From being the envy of every team to being the laughingstock. It can happen that quickly. St. Louis went to two Super Bowls in three years and stayed competitive for a stretch run of six seasons, but then set new records for ineptitude (6-42 from 2007-2009) and had the NFL’s worst total offense for the two seasons prior to Sean McVay’s arrival in 2017.

Now look at L.A.: Two Super Bowls in four years and five competitive seasons in a row, but suddenly McVay’s offense is 31st in total yards and 29th in points scored.

If the team accepts defeat over the next six games, they could be accepting a death sentence that goes on for more than a decade.

“She never gave up.” - Random woman off-screen in the movie Flightplan starring Jodie Foster.

I don’t remember anything about the movie Flightplan, except for in the final scene when Foster is leaving the plane after finding her daughter and some random passenger off-screen says, “She never gave up.” I kept asking myself, “How did this woman know that? Did she watch the movie???

But off-screen woman was right. Jodie Foster did never give up. Because that’s what humans are supposed to do: Never give up. The Rams have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on this season and there’s nothing guaranteed in the future.

There’s nothing that I hate more than anyone who feels they don’t have to try anymore because the playoffs are out of reach. It’s normal and expected to give 100% when there’s a championship on the line. It’s admirable — and I think EXPECTED at the NFL level — to give 100% when there’s NO championship on the line. This is McVay’s first experience in the NFL of coaching more than a week without a potential championship on the line and with the endless stream of news coming down the pipeline that another Hollywood star is headed to the injury report I can’t help but think the reminder is necessary.

You never give up.

The Rams are 3-8, so they could finish anywhere from 3-14 to 9-8 and the difference between those two records could be picking as high as 32nd (the first pick in the second round) and picking closer to 50th in the 2023 NFL Draft, potentially still missing the playoffs if McVay wins out. But the playoffs don’t have to be the goal right now.

The only goal right now is to beat the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Give the Seahawks an ounce of hope that L.A. is willing to quit on a season in early December and McVay’s outstanding record against Pete Carroll could be all for nothing from here on out. If Seattle gets the privilege of sweeping the Rams at McVay’s lowest points—the two teams meet again in the season finale—what’s to say that Carroll won’t feel confident that he can sweep the series again in 2023? “Who’s next? The Rams? The team that quits?”

You never give up.

The Rams will play two games in five days, first hosting Seattle and then hosting the slumping Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday Night Football. Come out of that stretch with victories against Geno Smith and Derek Carr, then the 5-8 Rams can look forward to the sagging careers of Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson in Weeks 15 and 16. You know who feels as bad as Rams fans right now? Packers fans and Broncos fans and Raiders fans.

You never give up.

There is talk of shutting down Matthew Stafford for the final six games, not out of concern for any present injuries—Stafford was in concussion protocol but is not said to have suffered a second concussion—but only because some fans feel that “there’s no point.” I disagree, there is a reason to not shutdown the only quarterback on the roster who can execute a forward pass.

It’s this: That would be quitting and the Rams don’t want to be quitters.

Don’t give up so easily. Going 0-6 in the final six games and ending the season on an 11-game losing streak is not the formula for convincing your star players, such as Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, Bobby Wagner, or your potential free agent targets, or YOUR FANS, to return next season. But going 3-3 in the final six games, which would be much more possible with Stafford going against three teams that have a record just as bad as L.A.’s as opposed to Bryce Perkins, John Wolford, or Case Cookus, that at least tells the world, “We ain’t dead yet, folks.”

Is Case Cookus a real name or just one of those joke Madden names that someone entered in the simulation last week to troll us? “Oh haha, get it? Cook-us? Cook us? Get it?”

He might as well be named, “Case Closedus” or “Please Cookus” or “Please Cookus-Passthesalt”. (He’s a hyphenate.)

Matthew Stafford should be sat if Matthew Stafford is hurt. To sit him because the playoffs are out of reach? Well, that’s lower than even the lowest that the Detroit Lions ever sank with Stafford because the Lions never put him on the bench when the record got too bad. Not in 2012 when they went 4-12, not in 2018 when they went 6-10, not in 2020 when the Lions went 5-11.

I know. Stafford is 34 and the Rams offensive line is the worst in the NFL. And if Tom Brady can be out there at 45 with a losing record, Aaron Rodgers at 39 with a losing record, Matt Ryan at 37 with a losing record, and Russell Wilson at 34 with a losing record, then surely the veteran of losing records can handle being behind the eight ball in December and January. Because Rams fans have two potential paths ahead of them right now.

Watch six games of no offense and then take nine months off until football returns, with no guarantee that the L.A. Rams will be better than they are today.

Or watch six games of some offense, potentially winning a few times, and then take nine months off until football returns—same no guarantee. But fans deserve a team’s best effort to win whether the Super Bowl is on the line like it was in 2021 or if nothing is on the line as it appears today. But there is something on the line today. A LOT of something is on the line today. The GOAL of FOOTBALL is on the line today.

Beat those damn Seahawks.

The same motivation you had in the offseason, to be the best team in the NFC West, is still on the line today. Take two games from Seattle and suddenly Seattle doesn’t feel so hot about the hotness that they’ve felt from the heat of being hotter than even the hottest expectations of being hot. Destroy their Edison bulb, introduce them back to darkness.

That would have been the point of Week 13 whether the Rams were 11-0, 0-11, or 3-8. It so happens that they’re 3-8, but the game is the same: Beat the Hawks and worry about next week, next week.

Don’t give up.

Even if Stafford, Donald, Cooper Kupp, Allen Robinson, and L.A.’s top-four left tackles are not on the field this Sunday, every active player on the roster has dreamed of these moments. Kyren Williams is realizing his dream for the first time. Tutu Atwell is getting his first opportunities on Sunday to prove he belongs on Sunday. Four of the five offensive linemen are basically just auditioning for employment with any team in 2023. Michael Hoecht is seeing himself on the field next to Wagner and Ramsey, thinking, “This is real life.”

The lack of stars isn’t the same as the lack of seeing stars and every opportunity to play on Sundays is a privilege. It’s not a chance for anyone to quit.

Quit now, quit forever.

“And go beat the Seahawks.” - Jodie Foster.