COO Kevin Demoff says Rams one step from supersizing L.A. fanbase
Six years ago, after a more than two-decade absence, the Rams returned to Los Angeles with dreams of winning a Super Bowl in a new stadium.
This season, $5-billion SoFi Stadium welcomed fans for the first time, and the Rams gave them much to cheer about, including a victory over the rival San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game.
On Feb. 13, the Rams will play the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium.
Kevin Demoff, the Rams’ chief operating officer, said Wednesday that he could not have dreamed all the elements that fell into place this season would “come into a confluence” that has the Rams positioned to possibly win their first Super Bowl title as the Los Angeles Rams since losing to Pittsburgh in the 1979 season.
Super Bowl LVI coverage
“If it was a Hollywood script it would get tossed out because no one would believe it,” Demoff said during a videoconference with reporters. “Now, that being said, we still have to go accomplish the last step for all of that to actually come to fruition, but the stage is set so far.”
The Rams began planning for this moment in January 2016 when NFL owners voted to approve the Rams’ move from St. Louis, where they had played for 21 seasons and won a Super Bowl after leaving Los Angeles following the 1994 season.
The first season after their return did not go well — coach Jeff Fisher was fired with three games left. The Rams finished 4-12.
After the announcement of the firing, Demoff said it was “an organizational failure.”
“I can promise you — that wasn’t part of the plan or the storybook discussion,” Demoff said Wednesday. “But I do think that did help set the tone for us reimagining everything in the organization and what we could be.
“As is true with most things in life, you learn the most from your greatest failures.”
The Rams hired then 30-year-old Sean McVay as head coach. With a team led by quarterback Jared Goff, running back Todd Gurley and defensive lineman Aaron Donald they made the playoffs in 2017 and the Super Bowl the following season.
The Rams are known for making big-time acquisitions, but it was a series of less-newsworthy moves that helped them earn a spot in Super Bowl LVI.
Four years later, they are back in the Super Bowl with new quarterback Matthew Stafford leading a star-studded team that includes only a handful of starters from 2018.
And they have a chance to follow the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and become the second team to win a Super Bowl in their home stadium.
“This is a unique opportunity on the biggest stage in the world,” Demoff said.
The two-week buildup to the Super Bowl affords the Rams an opportunity to saturate the market and grow their fan base.
“The most important thing we can do to build this franchise after being gone for 20 years is to capture the next generation of fans,” Demoff said, adding, “It’s not about flipping someone who’s a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, who grew up in Pittsburgh and moved to Los Angeles and becomes a Rams fan.
“That’s great if it happens but that may not be realistic. What it’s about is their kids who are 8, 9, 10 years old, growing up wearing Cooper Kupp jerseys, wearing Aaron Donald jerseys and becoming lifelong Rams fans.
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“That’s what these two weeks truly are about, and that’s what this season’s been about.”
After the Rams won the NFC championship game, McVay said the opportunity to play the Super Bowl in SoFi Stadium was “really unique.”
Said Stafford: “The fact that it’s under this roof, it’s going to be awesome.”
Demoff senses the moment and sees the possibilities for the organization moving forward.
“We’re just scratching the surface,” he said, “of what we can become.”
The Rams will wear their bone white jerseys and sol yellow pants when they play the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium on Feb. 13. The Bengals, as the designated home team, chose first and opted to wear their black jerseys and white pants.
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