Rams

Super Bowl 56: For Six Rams Players From Southern California Playing in the Super Bowl is Extra Special

For six local football legends Southern California has always been home.

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For six local football legends Southern California has always been home.

Despite the fact that both the Raiders and Rams left the Los Angeles market simultaneously prior to the 1995 season, many of these talented players grew up rooting for the Rams.

On Sunday, they will be playing in their own backyard. No, not at their local park or high school field, but at SoFi Stadium in Super Bowl LVI.

For David Long Jr., Eric Weddle, Robert Woods, Coleman Shelton, Matthew Orzech, and Greg Gaines, the Super Bowl is just a stone's throw away from where they were born and raised.

"As a kid I was more excited to watch USC than any NFL football because the NFL was so far away from me," said David Long Jr., whose pick-six against the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Wild Card Game jump-started the Rams run to the Super Bowl. "The first NFL game I ever went to I was playing in it."

Weddle was born in nearby Fontana and grew up in the Inland Empire. He played for the Rams in 2019, but retired after the season. Two years later, just days before the Rams playoff run began, Weddle came out of retirement and re-joined the team.

"This just doesn't happen to guys two years out of retirement," said Weddle.

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The first time he or his family had ever seen SoFi Stadium was in the NFC Wild Card Game against the Cardinals. Two weeks later, he led the team in tackles in the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers. Weddle is so excited to be playing in the Super Bowl and has never won a championship at any level in his lifelong football career.

"I think the people that have been in my corner would have gone to the ends of the earth for me to be in the Super Bowl," Weddle told NBC LA. "It makes it special for it to be in my backyard and for everyone to be able to come. To be on the cusp of something that's been missing in my life is amazing."

Robert Woods also grew up in Los Angeles and played his collegiate ball at USC. The star wide receiver suffered a knee injury in November and underwent season-ending surgery for a torn ACL. Despite the fact that he won't be playing on the Super Bowl field, he will be in the stadium and his impact on the team is immense.

"Robert Woods is the Los Angeles Rams," said quarterback Matthew Stafford.

"It's super, super impactful. I was one-year's old the last time the Super Bowl was in LA. For me, just growing up in LA, this is championship city," Woods told NBC LA. "I grew up seeing Kobe and Shaq and the Lakers dominate, seeing the Dodgers dominate, and seeing the Kings' win their championships, I feel like it's time for us. We have a football team and now it's time to be a part of that LA legacy and history."

Coleman Shelton was born in Los Angeles and went to Loyola high school.

Rams' long snapper Mattew Orzech was born in San Diego and went to high school in Menifee, CA.

"It's special for all of us, but I think it's extra special for those guys you mentioned," said Rams' head coach Sean McVay.

Defensive lineman Greg Gaines was born in La Habra and attended La Habra high school.

"It's been cool. I have some friends that came to a bunch of games this year. It's awesome to go to the Super Bowl and have it be in LA. I have a lot of friends and family here and for them to be able to come is awesome," Gaines told NBC LA. "I talk to E-Dub [Eric Weddle] all the time, and we're so excited to be here. It's his first chance to play in the Super Bowl. He's super excited. It's really cool."

What a collection of local Southern California talent that is ready to play in the biggest game of their collected lives, the Super Bowl.

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