In celebrity-mad city, Rams built celebrity-rich team; it got them to Super Bowl LVI

Rams linebacker Von Miller hoists the NFC championship trophy.
Von Miller, holding the trophy after the NFC championship game, and Jalen Ramsey brought more star power to an already-loaded Rams roster.
(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

There could have been a red carpet leading to the Rams’ postgame news conference Sunday night, the team trotting one major star after another out in front of the cameras to celebrate clinching a Super Bowl berth several years — and many big personnel moves — in the making.

The Rams, after all, have as much star power as almost any franchise in football: Homegrown talents at critical positions on either side of the football. Major trade additions acquired for hefty hauls of draft picks. And prominent talents who all came together to help the team beat the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game and book a spot in Super Bowl LVI.

“All hands on deck, everybody was ready to go,” coach Sean McVay said. “There was so many key contributors today and like I said, I’m just so proud of this group.”


It’s a roster unlike any other in the NFL, and it will try and win the franchise’s first Super Bowl while playing in Los Angeles.

Here’s a look at six of their biggest names, and how the team brought them all together to reach the doorstep of a championship.


Aaron Donald

Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald celebrates after the NFC championship game on Sunday.
Aaron Donald celebrates after the Rams’ 20-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday in the NFC championship game.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Acquired: First-round draft pick, 2014

The Rams’ dominant defensive tackle was a force from the start of his NFL career. In 2014, he was named the defensive rookie of the year and earned his first of eight Pro Bowl selections. The next year, he earned the first of his seven first-team All-Pro selections and recorded his first of six double-digit sack seasons.

Though he keeps a low-key public persona, his play has earned admiration from pundits and peers alike. He has won the NFL’s defensive player of the year award in 2017, 2018 and 2020. And he has been ranked as one of the NFL’s top-three players the last three years in the league’s Top 100 rankings, which are voted on by players.

With a Super Bowl victory, Rams’ Aaron Donald can finally have a resume worthy of who he is on and off the field, writes columnist Dylan Hernández.


In addition to his 98 career sacks, 150 tackles for loss and 23 forced fumbles, he’s also well-known for viral offseason workout videos in which he will bench press 500 pounds and squat almost 1,000 pounds, and his meticulous diet plans that sometimes include 5,000 calories in a day.

During the NFC championship game, his leadership qualities were on display when he huddled the Rams defense for an impassioned speech with the team trailing by 10 points in the fourth quarter. It helped key the Rams’ rally, and gives Donald the opportunity to check off the last major missing piece of his star-studded career.

“I feel like I accomplished a lot in a short amount of time in this league,” he said last week. “The only thing I’m lacking now is being a world champion.”


Cooper Kupp

Rams receiver Cooper Kupp catches a touchdown pass against 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt on Sunday.
Rams receiver Cooper Kupp catches a touchdown pass against 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt in the NFC championship game on Sunday at SoFi Stadium.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Acquired: Third-round draft pick, 2017


Unlike Donald, Kupp wasn’t an immediate star after entering the league. Following a decent rookie season in 2017, he missed the second half of the 2018 season, including the team’s run to Super Bowl LIII, with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Though he bounced back with more than 2,100 receiving yards the next two years, this season was when the 6-foot-2 target cemented himself as arguably the top receiver in the NFL. He became the first receiving “triple crown” winner (the leader in receptions, yards and touchdowns) since 2005.

Cooper Kupp, arguably the Rams’ MVP all season, came up big against the Buccaneers with two receptions in the last minute to set up the game-winning field goal.

This postseason, the expert route runner has continued to hit even more highs, hauling in 386 yards and four touchdowns in the Rams’ three playoff games. He also became the first receiver in NFL history to amass more than 2,000 yards in a year, regular season and playoffs combined.

“He’s just a special player,” McVay said after the game Sunday. “We would have no chance of being here without Cooper Kupp.”


Jalen Ramsey

Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey breaks up a pass intended for Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans on Jan. 23 in Tampa, Fla.
Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey breaks up a pass intended for Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans in a divisional playoff game on Jan. 23 in Tampa, Fla.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)


Acquired: Traded by Jacksonville Jaguars in 2019 (in exchange for two first-round picks and a fourth-round pick)

As the first of what would become several major big-name additions the Rams have made in recent years, Ramsey’s arrival in 2019 reaffirmed the franchise’s win-now mentality at a crucial point in the team’s trajectory.

After losing Super Bowl LIII to the New England Patriots, the Rams were struggling in 2019 when they acquired Ramsey, the All-Pro cornerback who had become disgruntled with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who will face his former team for the first time, says he is grateful for the time he spent growing with the Jaguars.

By then, Ramsey was already a high-profile player in the NFL — both for his stellar play (he helped the Jaguars to the AFC championship game in 2017 and was considered one of the top cornerbacks in the league) and some well-documented on-field altercations, including a fight with Cincinnati Bengals receiver AJ Green in 2017 and a heated sideline exchange with Jaguars coach Doug Marrone in 2019.

Though his addition didn’t help the Rams return to the playoffs in 2019, he signed a five-year, $105-million extension the next year and has become a cornerstone of the defense, this season matching his career-high with four interceptions and breaking up 16 passes.


Matthew Stafford

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford throws a pass against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game on Sunday.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford throws a pass against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)


Acquired: Traded by Detroit Lions in 2021 (in exchange for Jared Goff, two first-round draft picks and a third-round draft pick)

After a disappointing divisional-round exit in the playoffs last season, the Rams made their intentions for 2021 clear just a couple of weeks into the offseason: By trading for Stafford, they signaled they were putting all their chips in the middle of the table.

Though former quarterback Jared Goff helped the Rams to three playoff appearances and one conference championship, the franchise hoped Stafford would be an upgrade. He had displayed tantalizing arm talent during 12 seasons with the Lions. But his track record was hardly sparkling: A 74-90-1 regular season record. An 0-3 mark in the playoffs.

Still, the Rams believed in him, and continued to do so even as he battled inconsistency and a penchant for untimely interceptions throughout this regular season. That faith has been rewarded in the playoffs, where Stafford has thrown for 905 yards, six touchdowns and only one interception, cashing in the bet the Rams made on him almost exactly a year ago.

“He’s played like we thought he would,” McVay said. “No moment’s too big for him. He’s elevating everybody around him. We’ve got one more. We know it’s gonna be a great challenge.”



Von Miller

Rams linebacker Von Miller (40) celebrates causing a fumble against Tampa Bay on Jan. 23.
Rams linebacker Von Miller (40) celebrates with Aaron Donald after forcing a fumble against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a divisional playoff game on Jan. 23.
(Jason Behnken / Associated Press)

Acquired: Traded by Denver Broncos before Week 9 of this season (in exchange for a second- and third-round draft pick)

Unlike their deal for Ramsey two years earlier, the Rams were flying high when they made Miller their latest midseason veteran pickup, adding him to a team that was off to a 7-1 start.

Miller’s trade was headline news, the 32-year-old linebacker leaving the Denver Broncos after 10 stellar seasons in which he was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, three-time All-Pro and Super Bowl 50 champion and MVP.

Rams linebacker Von Miller read Kobe Bryant’s book, watched his documentaries and gained inspiration to become an even greater football player.

His big personality and key production in the pass rush have made him a hit in L.A. He has seven sacks with the Rams in the regular season and postseason. He’s brought championship pedigree to a roster bereft of many Super Bowl rings. And he’s enjoyed the bright new spotlight, boasting about his time in Southern California following Sunday’s game while decked out in a cowboy hat, sparkled black jacket and colorful multi-colored knitted pants.


“To join it midseason and for them to accept us with open arms,” Miller said with fellow midseason acquisition Odell Beckham Jr. standing by his side, “for it to be a smooth transition and them to motivate us and us motivate them, to be in a city like Los Angeles, it’s crazy. It’s crazy man. When you sit down and pray for stuff, you can never imagine it being like this.”


Odell Beckham Jr.

Rams receiver Odell Beckham Jr. scores a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 13 in Glendale, Ariz.
Rams receiver Odell Beckham Jr. reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz.
(Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)

Acquired: Signed as free agent before Week 10 of this season

Beckham‘s arrival was perhaps the least risky of any on this list. After mutually parting ways with the Cleveland Browns following a tumultuous start of the season, the receiver came to Los Angeles on a one-year, $1.25-million deal — not including incentives he’s earned as the Rams have progressed through the playoffs — that required the team to give up no draft picks.

There was a question about how a pass catcher with a reputation for wanting the ball would handle not being the top option in a receiving corps that also included Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods.

The answer: Just fine.

Critics worried how the addition of Odell Beckham Jr. would affect the Rams’ culture, but he has been all good on and off the field, and his teammates love it.


Though Beckham Jr. had plenty of highlight-reel plays with the New York Giants and Browns — his famous one-handed catch chief among them — postseason success had eluded him.

Instead, he hit one roadblock after another; some freak incidents, such as the ACL tear that ended his 2020 season, and others that sparked public drama, including when his father made a social media post this season criticizing his usage within the Browns offense.

But since coming to L.A., he has filled an important hole in a passing attack that lost Woods to an ACL tear in November, the day after Beckham signed. His best game with the team came Sunday, when he had nine catches for 113 yards to earn his first trip to the Super Bowl.

“He’s brought such a charisma and a presence, really a swag to our team,” McVay said. “Love Odell. Really just happy for him.”