Super Bowl week has provided a natural period of reflection for the Rams executives who moved the team from St. Louis back to Los Angeles in 2016.
“If you were born in Los Angeles after 1995, you did not grow up with a team,” Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff said Monday. “If you moved to Los Angeles from another city after 1995, there was no team, so you probably kept your previous team. So now you have people who have moved here, generations who grew up here, and you all have this team. It’s something to rally behind.
“When you see the jerseys, the excitement, the car flags, you walk into a grocery store and see the displays for the big game and the Rams logo, it’s a great sense of pride for our organization. But it’s a reminder of how much work we have to do to continue to grow the next generation.”
An L.A. Times/SurveyMonkey poll conducted Feb. 1-7 among a national sample of 7,590 adults, including 1,659 Californians and 743 people who live in the Greater Los Angeles Area, confirmed Demoff’s anecdotal intuition — the Rams appear to have taken over L.A., yet there is plenty of work to do.
The Rams are the most popular pro football team in L.A., with 26% of L.A.-area residents choosing the Rams as their favorite team. The Chargers have more work to do, with 5% of those polled calling the San Francisco 49ers, the Dallas Cowboys, the Las Vegas Raiders or the Chargers their favorite team.
As with all polls, the results are subject to sampling error. But there’s a big enough gap between the Rams and their competitors to know something tangible has been accomplished along the team’s road to Sunday’s Super Bowl LVI against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“This isn’t climbing Everest,” Demoff said. “This is getting to base camp.
“You want it for the city. You think back, there hasn’t been a Super Bowl played in the city since 1993. The last team to win a Super Bowl here was nearly 40 years ago with the Raiders, who are the only team to have won a Super Bowl in Los Angeles. So for this next generation, to have a chance for the Los Angeles Rams to win our first Super Bowl in Los Angeles, to win the first Super Bowl [by a team located] in Los Angeles in 40 years, is a tremendous opportunity. … It would be a game-changer, obviously.”
The survey determined 59% of L.A.-area residents plan on watching the game, with 87% rooting for the Rams and 91% expecting a Rams victory. But what if the Bengals — who will have the backing of 59% of respondents nationally — come to L.A. and upset the Rams?
“Whether we win or lose this game is not [the only thing that is] going to grow the next generation,” Demoff said. “It’s going to be playing this way year after year, having SoFi Stadium host events like this year after year, and really using the power of the NFL and the power of the Rams in unison.”
Here are a few other takeaways from the L.A. Times/SurveyMonkey poll:
- A clear majority nationally (62%) say the NFL hasn’t done enough to respond to the risk of long-term brain damage among its athletes. Even among NFL fans, 59% say the league hasn’t done enough, 33% say it has done “just enough” and 6% say it has done “too much.”
- Across the U.S., a third of adults (34%) say the NFL hasn’t done enough to show respect for its Black players; 22% think the NFL has done “too much;” 37% think the NFL has done “just enough.” Interestingly, 45% of Republicans think the NFL has done “too much” to support Black players, while 57% of Democrats say the NFL hasn’t done enough.
- The “Rooney Rule, which requires that teams interview at least two minority candidates for head coaching positions, garners significant support: a majority (63%) of adults in the U.S., and 71% of NFL fans. Again, a big political party gap exists here, with support among Republicans just half as high as among Democrats (42% versus 85%).
- About half of the U.S. (52%) plans to watch the Super Bowl, while 27% do not plan to watch and 20% are unsure.