The Morning Column: February 14, 2022
The Los Angeles Rams are Super Bowl champions. That’s a factual sentence that had never been written or uttered prior to the end of Super Bowl LVI.
Good morning on a beautiful Monday and welcome to The Morning Column. Please subscribe if you haven’t done so. To avoid the email ending up in your spam folder, please add email@example.com to your contacts. You can also email me there as well. I would love to hear from you.
1. The Los Angeles Rams are Super Bowl champions.
That’s a factual sentence that had never been written or uttered prior to the end of Super Bowl LVI. Sure, the St. Louis Rams won the Super Bowl in 2000 and the L.A. Rams won the NFL Championship in 1951 but the Los Angeles Rams had never been Super Bowl champions.
The win comes 22 years after the Rams beat the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV. That night was also oddly enough the final straw for many L.A. Rams fans that had continued to support the team in St. Louis. As many diehard Rams fans celebrated their first Super Bowl win, which came just five years after the Rams relocated to St. Louis after being in Southern California for 50 years, Rams owner Georgia Frontiere smiled as she was handed the Vince Lombardi Trophy and said, “It proves we did the right thing in going to St. Louis. This trophy belongs to our coach, our team and our fans in St. Louis.”
It was the final twisting of the knife to longtime Rams fans in Southern California that simply wanted to enjoy the moment and feel like they were a part of their team’s journey. Frontiere made sure they knew they were not. The team made the right choice in leaving L.A. and the Super Bowl win was for the fans in St. Louis, not L.A.
When people wonder why the Rams were essentially starting from scratch when they returned to Los Angeles despite having a 50-year history in the region, they have to understand the team’s history here. The truth is, they weren’t starting from scratch. An expansion team would be starting from scratch. The Rams were actually starting at a deficit. The Rams left Los Angeles for Anaheim in 1980 and then left Anaheim for St. Louis in 1995. Whatever small percentage of fans they still had in the region five years later when the Rams won the Super Bowl got dumped on by the owner.
The Rams’ path towards once again being a beloved team in Los Angeles wasn’t going to be easy. They lost a generation of fans while they were in St. Louis and lost the previous two generations with relocation and Frontiere’s comments. But they took a big step towards winning over a new generation with the team’s first Super Bowl championship in Los Angeles on Sunday.
2. When the Rams were in the Super Bowl three years ago, Aaron Donald made a promise to his daughter, Jaeda.
“I promised her that after we won the Super Bowl, we were going to play in the confetti,” Donald said as he looked at Jaeda, who is now eight years old, holding a fistful of yellow, blue and white confetti.
Despite Donald and the Rams defense holding the Patriots to 13 points and just 3 points with seven minutes left in Super Bowl LIII, the Donald family never got to make snow angels on the football field like they had planned. As heartbreaking as the loss was, what Donald heard from his daughter after the game hit him just as hard.
“She came up to me and said, ‘Daddy, I thought you said we was going to play in the confetti?’” said Donald, looking at his daughter after the Rams defeating the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20, to win Super Bowl LVI. “So, this was something I had to keep a promise to my daughter and make sure we were able to complete the mission this time and we got to play in the confetti. She has some in her hand right now.”
3. Eric Weddle was happily enjoying retired life last month when he got a call from the Rams. The team had just lost safety Jordan Fuller for the postseason with an ankle injury and safety Taylor Rapp had entered concussion protocol. They needed some help and called the veteran safety who hand not played in two years. Weddle came out of retirement, was third on the team in tackles during the postseason, won his first Super Bowl and announced he would be returning to retired life after one of the wildest months of his life.
“Yes, I am re-retiring,” Weddle said after the game. “So yeah, I will go back to my daily life, pretty banged up right now, but hey it’s well worth it, well worth the moment.”
Weddle also had a message for Chargers general manager Tom Telesco as he spoke to the media just outside the Chargers’ home locker room at SoFi Stadium.
“I want to thank the Chargers for drafting me, and also want to thank old Tom Telesco for the things that ended there and showing me the light and giving me that motivation and that fire the way things ended there, I appreciate that,” Weddle said. “And I always said that Eric Weddle would get the last laugh and I’m a world champion now. Funny how things come right back around and I’ve always tried to treat people with respect, love and kindness and you should be able to get that in return and when that does, good things happen to good people.”
4. Robert Woods has been sidelined for the past three months after earing the ACL in his left knee right after the team signed Odell Beckham Jr. While he has not been able to play, Woods has played a key role as a mentor, coach, teammate and sounding board for most of his teammates. He was positioned right next to Sean McVay as the Rams engineered their game-winning drive with less than two minutes left.
“I had the towel on my head, I’m pulling it down and I’m stressed out,” Woods said. “We’re the best in the world! Just going through it as we are working down the field seeing players create plays, seeing Cooper create mismatches being held twice. Then at that point getting down there, it is like alright who’s going to seal it off? And no better than Cooper Kupp, our MVP, who’s been holding it down throughout this whole year. No better player to close it off and win this game for us.”
5. When Cooper Kupp capped off one of the greatest individual seasons in NFL history with a Super MVP, he was nearly speechless and genuinely overcome by the moment. “I don’t feel deserving of this,” he said.
Kupp is just the second player in NFL history (Joe Montana in 1989) to win Offensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl MVP in the same year. He’s also the second player in league history (Jerry Rice) to win the receiving triple crown, Offensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl MVP in their career. Yes, Kupp, is the only one to accomplish all of that in just one season.
“I was just looking at my family and looking at my wife and my boys coming out here,” Kupp said. “They have sacrificed and they have been through it with me, they have encouraged me through. I mean my wife has been with me since senior year in high school. She has been through all of it and she has seen it all. She knows the sacrifices because she has lived the sacrifices herself as well. It was so amazing to see them while I was up on the podium. In 2019 we walked off that field that last time after losing to the Patriots. I was not able to be a part of that thing but I do not know what it was but there was this vision that God revealed to me that we were going to come back and we were going to be a part of a Super Bowl, we were going to win it, and somehow I was going to walk off the field as the MVP of the game.
“I shared that with my wife because I obviously could not tell anyone what that was. From the moment this postseason started, there was a belief that every game that it was written already, and I just got to play free knowing that. I got to play from victory not for victory. I got to a place where I was validated not because of anything that happened on the field but because of my worth in God and in my father and I am just so incredibly thankful. In that moment you are talking about I was so undeserving of what that was and that moment because the people I have been able to play with and the people I have been around and the players I get to play with and to get to come into work every single day, the coaches that I get to work with to collaborate with, it has just been the perfect team, the perfect setup, I am just so thankful for everyone that has been around me. It still really has not hit me."
6. When Matthew Stafford was traded to Los Angeles two years ago, Detroit Lions fans weren’t upset their franchise quarterback asked for a trade. They understood. They have seen so many great players fail to reach their full potential or have postseason success playing for the Lions. While Rams and Bengals jerseys filled up SoFi Stadium on Sunday, there was also a healthy amount of Stafford Lions jerseys.
“I love playing this game,” Stafford said. “I love playing this game for the competition, for the relationships, for the hard times, for the good times, for all of it. This game can teach us so much as people. I get to go to work with people from all walks of life and come together and go for one goal and for twelve years that goal wasn't reached. It tore me up inside, but I knew I could keep playing and try to find a way and the fact that we reached that goal today is so special."
7. Here are some odds if you’re thinking about placing a wager today brought to you by Circa Sports.
8. Here’s the local pro sports schedule for today brought to you by Yaamava’.
7:30 p.m. Golden State Warriors at L.A. Clippers – Bally Sports SoCal
9. Here are the “get in” price for a ticket on TickPick if you want to go to a game today.
Golden State Warriors at L.A. Clippers – $50
10. On Friday’s The Arash Markazi Show, we were live from Radio Row, previewing Super Bowl LVI with the Rams staying at home and at SoFi Stadium to play the Cincinnati Bengals.
Listen to The Arash Markazi Show Monday-Friday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. on The Mightier 1090 ESPN Radio in Southern California following The Rich Eisen Show and on 98.5 The Fan in Las Vegas following The Jim Rome Show. The Mightier 1090 ESPN Radio has one of the strongest radio signals in North America and can be heard from “Baja to the Canadian Rockies” and 98.5 The Fan is the home of college football and the Los Angeles Chargers in Las Vegas. You can listen to The Mightier 1090 ESPN Radio anywhere with your free TuneIn app or ask your smart speaker to “Play The Mightier 1090.” You can listen to 98.5 The Fan anywhere with your free Audacy app or ask your smart speaker to “Play The Fan Las Vegas.” You can also listen to the show on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and BLEAV.
And please click below to subscribe to The Morning Column at Substack. Please also consider supporting my colleagues at Substack (and former colleagues at ESPN and SI): Marc Stein, Henry Abbott, Chad Ford and Ethan Sherwood Strauss on the NBA, Molly Knight and Joe Posnanski on MLB, Ariel Helwani on MMA, Dan Rafael on boxing, Grant Wahl and Leander Schaerlaeckens on soccer and Chris Peters on the NHL.