A few weeks before he was due to report to training camp, Jared Goff went Hollywood.
The Rams quarterback posted to Instagram a photo of himself and three friends standing in front of the iconic Hollywood sign. It was the ascending NFL star’s first time at the hillside landmark that celebrates a region awash in entertainment and sports celebrities.
“Is this LA enough?” Goff wrote.
Goff automatically joined the celebrity fraternity in 2016 when the Rams made him the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. But he proved star-worthy last year after rebounding from a shaky rookie season, leading the Rams to the NFC West title under first-year coach Sean McVay.
Now, after playing in the Pro Bowl for the first time, Goff is the triggerman for a team that is expected to contend for a Super Bowl title.
The Southland already includes sports stars such as Rams Todd Gurley and Aaron Donald, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and recently acquired Manny Machado, the Angels’ Mike Trout and, of course, new Laker LeBron James.
But NFL quarterbacks can achieve rarefied air if they deliver Super Bowl victories.
Is Goff, 23, ready to make the city his own?
“There’s so much that goes on in this city,” Goff said. “People want to label it ‘somebody’s.’ I don’t think it is anybody’s.”
Then he laughs and reconsiders.
“That guy [James] that just came into town — it might be his now.
“We’re just trying to win football games, and if you do, there’s a lot of cool things that go along with being in L.A.”
Goff, a Northern California native, passed on many of the off-the-field opportunities —movie premieres, lavish parties, etc… — that were offered during his first two seasons. He remains selective but is becoming more willing to embrace events.
“I’ve become more comfortable with the city and understanding where things are and how long it takes to get places and all that,” he said during an interview before a question-and-answer session with business executives at an athletic club in Cheviot Hills. “At the same time, I don’t like to ever sacrifice training or anything that will help me be a better football player.”
After passing for 28 touchdowns, with seven interceptions, last season, Goff has taken some time to relax. He headlined a charity golf tournament in Northern California and has hung out with friends and his 7-month old dog, Quincy.
But mainly, he has remained focused on football.
“Just been training,” he says. “Nothing crazy.”
As he did before last season, Goff works with quarterback trainers Tom House and Adam Dedeaux during throwing sessions in Huntington Beach. The workouts are “like a tune-up,” he said. Like a golfer working with a swing coach.
“If your swing gets a little out of sequence,” he said, “they can fix things and keep you sharp.”
Informal summer workouts with teammates were put on hold. Receivers Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks both got married a few weeks ago, and Cooper Kupp and his wife welcomed a baby.
“I’m letting them kind of have some time to themselves,” Goff said. “I texted them like, ‘Plan to get together at some point.’ But they’re on their honeymoons.”
The passing attack is expected to remain sharp when the Rams open training camp next week.
During organized-team activities in spring, the receivers said Goff’s experience in the offense and his relationship with play-caller McVay enabled the quarterback to make quicker reads.
“He knows what McVay is thinking,” Woods said. “The year of experience definitely helped him. He’s firing it on the money every time.”
Goff has already established intangible credentials, Kupp said.
“Everyone wants to talk about like, ‘Oh, he’s growing into a leader and he’s changing,’” Kupp said. “But he’s a leader. That’s who he is.”
Goff carries a salary-cap number of $7.6 million this season, a bargain for a starting quarterback. His rookie-contract salary has allowed the Rams to spend on free agents such as defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and sign Cooks to a lucrative extension.
Donald, the reigning NFL defensive player of the year, and the Rams have been at odds over an extension. Gurley, the reigning offensive player of the year, also will be in line soon, and then Goff.
This offseason, quarterback Kirk Cousins received a fully guaranteed, three-year, $84-million contract from the Minnesota Vikings. Matt Ryan signed a five-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons potentially worth $150 million. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is expected to soon top those deals.
“It’s good for the position,” Goff said of the recent deals. “It’s great for all us young guys — and it’s not unexpected that it’s going to keep going up. … people consistently want to top one other. But … that’s far away, down the road, so I don’t think about it too much.”
Goff is set to report to training camp at UC Irvine on Monday. The Rams practice for the first time on Thursday.
After four preseason games, they begin their quest for a Super Bowl on Sept. 10 at Oakland.
“We have that mindset coming into this year that, like, ‘All right, we won 11 games last year,’ but that wasn’t an accident,” Goff said. “We did a lot of stuff coming off the previous year to fix things and get things right.
“So you have to stay on that, stay on top of it. And I think we are.
“We’re just going to keep building on that during training camp, and I don’t anyone thinks any different.”