Los Angeles

Rams Players and Fans Rejoice After Triumphant Return to Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Rams players react to the home field advantage of the 91,000 fans in attendance in their home opener on Sunday.

"Patience is bitter, but it's fruit is sweet." – Aristotle

It took 22 years of waiting, but football has finally returned to Los Angeles.

91,000 fans packed themselves into the rusted seats of the concrete Mecca known as the LA Coliseum on Sunday to witness the rebirth of the Rams.

For the most part, it was a rousing success: the crowded concession stands sang, the beer floweth over and the Rams were victorious, 9-3, in the first regular season NFL game held within this sports cathedral in over two decades.

"Great crowd. A lot of people. It was cool to play here," said opposing quarterback, Russell Wilson. "It's exciting for them and exciting for the NFL in general."

They all came to see the return of the NFL to the City of Angels, and although they did not witness a touchdown, they roared like lions all game, staying til the clock reached zero and the final whistle blew. 

They absorbed the excruciating heat and summoned the strength of the generation of sports fans who came before them to create a home field advantage previously known only in history books and archive footage of NFL Films. 

"They were great, it was great the whole game! They were just outstanding. It has an impact, it really does," said LA Rams head coach Jeff Fisher of the home field advantage. "But it's nice to have that on our side now so that we can take advantage of our pass rush and all those things associated with the noise."

In the final drive of the game, 22 years of football frustration burst forth like a pent-up flood as fans rose to their feet, waved their hands, and screamed til their voices went dry. They forced the Seahawks into a backbreaking false start penalty and conjured a forced fumble by Alec Ogletree to seal Seattle's fate.

"We got them to go for a couple of false starts, it was loud in there, hard for them to hear," Ogletree said of the final drive. "As long as I've been a Ram, we've never had the crowd be like that. It was amazing."

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who also coached the USC Trojans inside the Coliseum, had only seen the historic stadium like that during the program's national championship runs in 2003 and 2004, but on Sunday, he knew the crowd affected his team.

"The noise was a factor," he said succinctly.

The Rams returned to LA like rock stars and it all began with a show befitting of the Hollywood backdrop. The Red Hot Chili Peppers kicked things off with a pregame concert donned in Rams jerseys that brought the house down.

CeeLo Green sang the national anthem draped in what certainly seemed to be a red mumu, and late night talk show host, James Corden, dressed in drag as he performed in the endzone with the Rams cheerleaders.

Magic Johnson and rapper Ice Cube supported from the stands as they watched NBA superstar LeBron James take in the game from the sidelines.

"I thought the production and everything associated with the game was incredible," Fisher said. "The anthem, I didn't get to enjoy the concert like you guys did, but there was some good stuff going on today"

It may have seemed over the top, even hinging on cliché, but it was us, it was Los Angeles, and sorry St. Louis, but this is our team now. It's our team again.

"I haven't ever experienced anything like that before," said defensive end William Hayes when asked about the difference between St. Louis and Sunday. "I can't sit up here and lie to you and say I thought it would be like that."

Neither could we.

Honestly, we fully expected the often-spoiled Southern California sports fans to spend half their time on their smartphones, and the other half watching the game.

Sure, we expected to see celebrities, but never did we think they'd stay for the entirety of the game.

Instead, celebrities and fans alike bucked the stereotype of leaving early to beat traffic. For the most part, the phones were put in pockets and the crowd understood what unfolded. There may have not been any touchdowns, but they knew the importance of crucial 3rd downs, they knew when to get loud, and when to settle down.

"The crowd was good. It was loud. I loved it," quarterback Case Keenum said after the game. "It was really, really cool. I made sure as I ran out of the tunnel to look around and savor that moment. I'm going to write it down because I want to remember it forever."

One fan in attendance who will remember that day forever is 93-year-old Jim Hardy, who was the Los Angeles Rams quarterback in 1946, the year they first moved from Cleveland to LA. He said back then, the city was a "football town" and that they always supported the Rams.

It's 70 years later and nothing has changed. I guess good things really do come to those that wait.

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