LOS ANGELES — It was one large embrace, a Los Angeles community that has gone 22 years without an NFL team, eager to applaud, adore and pour love down upon every move the Los Angeles Rams made.
The Rams were back in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Saturday evening, if only for a team practice opened to the public. An estimated crowd of 30,000 showed up just to watch the team go through drills and scrimmage itself.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher called it the conclusion to the first phase of camp.
“We couldn’t think of a better way to do it here than in front of the fans in this environment,” he said. “It was just really, really fun. The players had a blast.
“And we got better today. I don’t know how we’re going to be next week, but we definitely got better today as a team.”
The Rams play their first preseason game next Saturday against the Cowboys — a game long sold out — and a serious lovefest has broken out. At this moment, the Rams can do no wrong.
The fans cheered players walking on the field, applauded receptions and field goals. An overly excited PA announcer proclaimed “your wildest dreams have come true.” Cheerleaders dropped by for the first 45 minutes. Replays were shown on the video board.
The fans haven’t seen the Rams in the Southern California area since 1994. They haven’t seen them call the Coliseum home since the team moved to Anaheim in 1980. Before a first loss is felt, the fans here are all about adulation.
“They’re a lot of fun, and right now, they’re very happy to see us,” Goff said. “Hopefully we can keep it that way.”
The Rams tried to make the Coliseum experience Saturday as close as possible to what it will be during a game. The Coliseum was circled with Rams logos. The Coliseum’s famed tunnel entrance for players had a mural of former Rams greats on one end, and the area that opens up into the stadium and is painted in USC colors was covered with a blue, plastic Rams tarp.
“Great experience here,” Fisher said. “The organization and the Coliseum and everybody kind of looked at it as that first step, that dry run type of thing. And everything was perfect.”
Fisher, who is from the Los Angeles area, played at Taft High School in nearby Woodland Hills, and later at USC.
“My dad brought me out here and I sat way up there on top someplace when I was about 7 years old,” he said. “And it was one of the greatest experiences of my life.
“To be able to have the opportunity to play here in college and then come back on numerous occasions was really cool. But this is really fun. Great memories here. We just want to carry on the winning tradition.”