‘Unbelievable journey’

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Staff and Wire Reports

LOS ANGELES — They came from throughout the city and the suburbs.

Some took public transportation, packing some buses to capacity with people dressed in Rams blue and gold.

Thousands of Los Angeles Rams fans descended on Exposition Park Feb. 16 for a raucous — and somewhat alcohol-fueled — parade and rally celebrating the team’s Super Bowl LVI championship Feb. 13 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood.

The parade began at 11 a.m. at the Shrine Auditorium and ended a relatively short distance away at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where a rally was held on the peristyle-end plaza outside the stadium.
Fans arrived early, scouting out prime locations along the parade route and in the plaza outside the Coliseum, where the Rams played from 2016-19 while SoFi Stadium was being built. The stadium was also the team’s home when the Rams arrived in Los Angeles in 1946. The Coliseum was also home to the first-ever Super Bowl in 1967, and Super Bowl VII in 1973.

Rams players and coaches, with their families, stood atop open-air buses that carried them along Jefferson Boulevard and Figueroa Street and into Exposition Park. They waved at fans, with many of them sipping on beer and other libations as the procession moved along.

As the rally began outside the Coliseum around noon, the celebratory atmosphere was in full effect. Aaron Donald, who stripped off his shirt during the parade, admitted to the crowd he’d been drinking liberally already and would likely be slurring his words.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford wielded a tequila bottle as he spoke to the crowd.

“This is unbelievable to be out here today, celebrating with you guys,” Stafford said. “It’s an unbelievable journey we’ve been on, so many ups and downs. But you know what, you guys were right there with us … every step of the way.

“I’m so blessed to be part of this team,” he added. “I’m just pinching myself about the opportunity to play with these guys, about the opportunity to work with these guys. It’s is unbelievable.”

Super Bowl MVP wide receiver Cooper Kupp sported a Kobe Bryant Lakers jersey during the parade, telling the crowd it was an appropriate choice of attire for a city accustomed to championships.

“Kobe’s a part of this. He belongs here,” Kupp said. “He set the standard.”

Exuberant head coach Sean McVay showed his usual enthusiasm, shouting “Let’s go!” to the cheering crowd.

“So grateful for all you guys here, but I can’t say enough about this team — the resiliency, the mental toughness,” he said. “Super Bowl champs! This [expletive] will never get old. Give it up for those players right there getting it done.

“It took every single person. That’s the best part about football. It’s the greatest team sport there is. Our brightest stars shined their brightest, but man, it’s about the team. And these guys are world champs.”

Rams owner Stan Kroenke also invoked Bryant’s name as he recounted Los Angeles’ championship history.

“We’ve had some great champions in Los Angeles,” he said. “I followed Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale at the Dodgers. Obviously Kobe and all of them. But now we’ve got new champions. We’ve got them up here on the stage. You know their names. … We’ve got new champions in L.A.”

The Rams claimed the Super Bowl title with a 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

The parade was held solely for the Rams, despite some suggestions it should have been expanded to also celebrate 2020 championship seasons by the Lakers and Dodgers, neither of whom had a parade due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We, Dodgers and Rams should all do a joint parade together!!!!” Lakers star LeBron James tweeted Feb. 14. “With a live concert afterwards to end it!! City of Champions. Congrats once again.”

 

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