ATLANTA — If you go to Los Angeles and want a good celebrity sighting, it sounds like the best plan is to hang around the Rams.
“LeBron [James] came in the locker room and acted nonchalant, that was kind of dope,” defensive tackle Michael Brockers said.
“YG, Wiz Khalifa, all those guys show us love,” tight end Gerald Everett said.
“YG, he’s on the team basically,” running back Todd Gurley said.
“The funniest one was Kevin Hart,” linebacker Mark Barron said. “I enjoyed when he came by.”
“Snoop Dogg performed at halftime one game and I gave him a high five coming off the field, that’s something I’ll never forget,” punter Johnny Hekker said.
“Definitely Floyd Mayweather,” safety John Johnson said.
“Jay-Z popped up a couple times,” Barron added.
This isn’t yet the 1980s “Showtime” Lakers, where it seemed you weren’t really a celebrity unless you showed up courtside. But as the Rams grow their fan base in Los Angeles, they’ve already got one thing on their side: Celebrities want to be a part of the scene, even those who identify themselves as fans of other teams like Hart or Snoop Dogg. When the big names come out in L.A., it helps make Rams games the place to be (sorry, Chargers).
YG could be Rams’ most visible celebrity fan
The moment that turned the Rams into a glamour team might have happened against the Minnesota Vikings. Robert Woods scored a touchdown, then went right to a fan with a bright yellow jacket in the end zone for a big high five. Then Gurley and Everett came over to him to celebrate too. For the uninitiated, it was Compton-based rapper YG, who has had three albums reach the top 10 of the Billboard charts.
YG has had some extra enjoyment of this Rams playoff run. He won a $20,000 bet against Post Malone for the Cowboys game, Billboard said, and then YG won a $20,000 bet against Birdman when the Rams beat the Saints, XXL said.
Birdman money kame In 👌🏾
— STAY DANGEROUS (@YG) January 24, 2019
YG also had a tweet for Donald Trump, telling him with an expletive that the Rams would beat his Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.
While some other NFL teams have brushes with celebrities, it’s different in Los Angeles. Billboard and XXL aren’t doing articles on rappers betting on Packers or Bills games, let’s say. And while the players themselves have some level of fame too, they can get a little star-struck at times when the big stars come out.
“Sometimes yeah, I’m not going to lie,” Brockers said. “When you see people like LeBron, who you idolized as an athlete, you do get kind of star-struck.”
Rams trying to win over Los Angeles market
There are other celebrities who have either shown their Rams fandom on social media or have come out to games: actors Ty Burrell, Danny Trejo and Terry Crews, Ryan Seacrest, host of “The Late Late Show” James Corden, and plenty of others. Hekker said he hung out on vacation in Hawaii with guitarist and Rams fan Tom Morello, most famously from Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave. And how many other teams are posting Instagram pictures of Kendrick Lamar and ScHoolboy Q at training camp?
A post shared by Los Angeles Rams (@rams) on Aug 3, 2016 at 10:27pm PDT
The Rams players said they have noticed the fanbase growing. Winning certainly helps. This week coach Sean McVay pointed to the Rams’ classic 54-51 win over the Chiefs this season, a game that was initially scheduled for Mexico City but had to be moved back to Los Angeles due to field conditions, as a moment when it felt like Los Angeles was really getting behind the Rams.
Los Angeles is a bit of a strange market. It’s huge, obviously. But there are a million things other than the NFL to do there, and when the NFL left for more than two decades, many football fans there found other teams to root for. Despite being in a massive city, it isn’t like the Rams suddenly had a big fan base when they moved from St. Louis in 2016. But it is growing, the players say. The buzz from the Super Bowl appearance will play a role, as will the lavish new stadium in Inglewood that should open in 2020.
The Rams might never overtake the Lakers as the glamour team in Los Angeles, but they’re gaining ground.
“We were coming to a new city, we had to win the fans back and we’re still winning them back,” Barron said. “There’s been a lot of love and we’re going to bring a Super Bowl home to L.A. We want it to keep growing. We want the whole city of L.A.”
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