Thursday, April 26, 2012
Los Angeles Rams fans want franchise back
By Doug Williams Special to ESPN.com
"Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams" championed its cause at the USC spring game earlier this month.
Andrew Hogan doesn’t have a single memory of watching the Rams play in Los Angeles or Anaheim. And he never had the chance to watch Jack Snow catch a bomb from Roman Gabriel or feel the disappointment of a string of playoff losses in the 1960s and '70s.
Hogan was, after all, just 5 when the team fled Southern California after the 1994 NFL season.
But Hogan -- just like his grandfather, father and uncles -- is a die-hard fan of the Los Angeles Rams, and he does know a thing or two, such as:
The name of former owner Georgia Frontiere, who took the team to St. Louis, doesn’t deserve to be uttered (it’s “She Who Shall Not be Named”).
The Rams -- not the Vikings, Chargers, Jaguars or Raiders -- are the team that most belongs in L.A. because of their nearly 50-year history in Southern California. To that end, Hogan, a 22-year-old from Mission Viejo, Calif., founded a group called “Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams” in 2009.
It began as a Facebook page (which now has close to 5,000 “likes”) and evolved to include a website (losangelesrams.org) and Twitter account (@losangelesrams) run by a small group of L.A. Rams faithful who now also go to USC, UCLA, Dodgers, Angels, Lakers, Clippers, Kings and Ducks games to spread the word. The group has picked up support from former L.A. Rams players, Southern California fan clubs of the team and fans abandoned by Frontiere.
“People come up to me and say, ‘It’s the only team that makes sense. We won’t embrace any other team,’” says Hogan, a senior at the University of California. “The Vikings are Minnesota’s team. The Chargers are San Diego’s team. The Raiders are Oakland’s team.”
Tom Bateman, 40, director of the group’s website, goes to events, shows off the banner and passes out bumper stickers. He says he’s certain the Rams fan base would be “instantly resurrected” if the team returned. The Rams' ownership and stadium situation in St. Louis and AEG’s drive to build a stadium in downtown L.A. give the group hope. No other team “would be as genuinely L.A.” as the Rams, Bateman says.
Though Hogan is young, his Rams DNA runs deep. He has an old Eric Dickerson jersey in his closet, has a framed newspaper celebrating the Rams’ 1951 NFL championship and when he was an infant was clad in a tiny Rams “onesie.”
What started out as an experiment to judge interest just keeps growing.
“The Rams spent so much time here,” he says. “There’s so much history.”