Wed. Aug 10th, 2022

One could imagine that the second largest urban area in the United States would be an excellent hunting area for the NFL to have at least one established, popular, and lucrative team. But for 22 years, Los Angeles did not have a football team at all.

Hats are not to say that the NFL just ignored LA when, until 1994, it housed two franchises that had two strong, if not wildly different fan bases.

The Rams had called Southern California home since the 1940s and settled at Anaheim Stadium in Orange County, which is not technically within LA’s city limits, but in the same urban area, much like the New York teams are based in New Jersey.

They were never a successful team, their only success coming in 1951 when they won the NFL Championship, but in the Super Bowl era, they never captured the imagination of anyone thirsting for success (which unstable Southern Californians often are).

But they still had a loyal fan base, especially in the suburbs of Orange County, where people were more likely to run into celebrities, be middle-class, and vote for Ronald Reagan.

Then in 1982, Al Davis moved his Raiders to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (the 1984 Olympic Stadium) after failing to obtain funding to expand the Oakland Coliseum in Northern California. Prior to their move, the Raiders had won the Vince Lombardi Trophy twice, in 1977 and 1981.

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The $ 5.5 billion Sofi Stadium in Los Angeles

And it was their almost immediate success in Tinsel Town that made the Raiders very popular in the 1980s. Legendary runner back Marcus Allen led the franchise to their third title in Super Bowl XVIII in what was only the Raiders’ second season in Los Angeles.

Bringing a Super Bowl to LA caused the local fan base to draw against their new team – one that actually played near the townspeople. The team’s brand was also helped by their association with the growing hip-hop music scene – their gear became synonymous with NWA

But that duopoly was not sustainable in a city that was more in love with baseball’s Dodgers and basketball’s Lakers. When the nineties began, both LA teams needed a new stadium:

The Rams shared their home with a baseball team in a plot that had an awkward design and was becoming obsolete, and the Raiders had declining attendees the further they went from their glory years in the early eighties.

This led to both sides taking their departure after the end of the 1994 season – the Raiders returned to Oakland, where Davis got his new stand, and the Rams made a 1,800-mile move to St Louis, which would be like Manchester United who packed their bags and set up camp in Moscow.

Fast forward to 2016 and the NFL has returned – though not entirely triumphantly. The Raiders and the Rams were favorites to make the move, but the NFL opted for a partnership between the Rams and the Chargers that had the short jump up the coast from San Diego.

Despite the NFL’s absence from America’s second largest media market seeming to be an obvious omission to correct, the move was no problem, it bore plenty of pitfalls, especially when two teams struggled to become a hit.

Whoever made the move had to risk making the fans in the city they left disturbing, as well as competing with another NFL franchise in LA and with the lasting love that the people had for the Raiders. They also had to capture imagination in a place filled with entertainment distractions as well as successful basketball, baseball and hockey teams.

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Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf (14) breaks a tackle attempt from Los Angeles Rams free safety Taylor Rapp (24) to score at a touchdown reception during the second quarter at Lumen Field

The league itself also played with having ruined their reputation by not being attractive in an American city at a time when they are looking to build a global fanbase and other owners would lose out as many used the threat of moving to Los Angeles for to get public funding for new stadiums in their hometowns.

For this to work, the NFL needed something that could beat the world. They needed the wow factor, they needed success, and they needed to do it fast.

After a couple of seasons where the project seemed doomed to fall short, American football in Los Angeles is now in an enviable position, which is the epitome of their worldwide home ground.

SoFi Stadium is the most expensive in the world – it cost $ 5.5 billion to build, far more than the $ 1.8 billion that built Wembley – and has a number of features that will not be seen by anything we do in Europe for decades .

The roof covers not only the seats and the field, but a large part of the space outside, it can open and close panels to make the game indoors or outdoors, and from it hangs a unique, two-sided, 120 meter long, 1,000 ton screen that loops continuously around the earth.

The league also put its weight behind this stadium project and housed its west coast headquarters in Hollywood Park, the complex the stadium is built in, as well as bases media operations here like the NFL Network and its popular RedZone coverage.

And on the court, two strong Super Bowl challengers point out that they mean business.

The Rams have been a strong outfit since their move to LA, being Super Bowl runners in 2019 and having the league’s best defense last year. This year, however, they have made a statement in their first five games, currently sitting on a 4-1 record with their only loss at the Arizona Cardinals, the only remaining undefeated side.

Their 26-17 victory last Thursday in Seattle showed some of their strengths – two rushing touchdowns from two different players (a trait that helped them defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, despite the Bucs making far more passing yards), in average over seven yards per. Play and end with Matthew Stafford being the least sacked quarterback in the league.

A finger injury is a cloud over Stafford’s prospects for the season, but if they stay ahead of the Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers, Stafford will have time to be fully ready for the playoffs.

The Chargers, meanwhile, have become AFC West’s newest scoring machine and are also 4-1. Justin Herbert, in his second season as an NFL player, is the ultimate double threat at quarterback, scoring four touchdowns between passing and chasing on Sunday as they defeated the Cleveland Browns 47-42, largely thanks to their 26-point move in fourth quarter alone.

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Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler scores a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns at SoFi Stadium

And the Chargers have raised many eyebrows, not only by defeating the Chiefs in a game in which they surpassed Patrick Mahomes’ offensive, but with their revolutionary confidence in Herbert to go after it on the fourth down and hold the ball in their hands.

A key moment in Sunday’s win for the Chargers was a strong call to go after it on the 4th and 2nd from their own 24-yard line in the third quarter. The drive was kept alive until the Chargers faced a 4th-and-7 from Cleveland 22.

But Herbert joined Keenan Allen for a 12-yard gain. These plays were the key to setting up Herbert to score a nine-yard rushing touchdown on the drive that cut into the Browns’ 27-13 lead. Over the last two games, the Chargers have made three of their last four fourth-down conversions.

“You’re trying to put the ball in Justin’s hands,” Charger’s head coach Brandon Staley told NFL.com.

“When you have a guy who is a double threat, as he is, you really have the threat of driving and passing. You do not have to worry about him being swallowed up by pressure, he gives us an advantage. And we have good ball distribution because we have quality weapons. We are difficult to defend. “

Herbert’s talent and Chargers’ willingness to go for it on the fourth down has made them a true Los Angeles team – box office.

The Browns may have revealed a possible weakness in their trouble defending against rushing offenses, but talent makes you popular in LA, and the home crowd that finally came behind the team has made the Chargers a more formidable opponent for this season.

Now they are a confident team in a proper stadium (as opposed to their temporary home, LA Galaxy’s 27,000-seat soccer field), one that completes comeback victories rather than suffering from heartache, a former trademark in San Diego.

There are still (almost) three quarters of the season yet, so it may be early for predictions after the season. But the prospect of a Los Angeles team winning the Super Bowl – which is being held at SoFi Stadium this season – is very real, and that success would be the culmination of the NFL’s daring project Hollywood.

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