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Rams 'fully embrace' weight of Hollywood expectations ahead of Super Bowl 56

Tyler Dragon
USA TODAY Sports+

Walk Hollywood Boulevard and you will see A-list celebrities immortalized in stars on the sidewalk.

Some of the biggest award shows in music and entertainment are in Los Angeles. There’s Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, and indefinite palm trees and sunshine. Just ask R&B group Tony! Toni! Toné!, and they'll tell you "it never rains." 

The point is, there is always something to pique the interests of Southern California residents.

"It’s amazing, man. It’s where the stars of the stars are at. You got LeBron James out here. You got everybody out here," Los Angeles Chargers Pro Bowl strong safety Derwin James told USA TODAY Sports+. "You got Hollywood out here."

Feb 1, 2022; Inglewood, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals helmets are seen with a Vince Lombardi trophy at SoFi Stadium. The Rams and Bengals will play in Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13, 2022. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

To capture the attention of casual sports fans in LA, sports franchises must win.

The Lakers and Dodgers are part of the fabric of Los Angeles because of sustained success. The Lakers have 17 NBA championships — tied with the Boston Celtics for the most in the league. Twelve of those titles were won after the Lakers moved to the city. Six of the seven Dodgers' World Series wins were in LA.

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Even on the college level, UCLA and USC have over 200 NCAA team titles combined. It is paramount for a team to win in Los Angeles. It’s almost a rite of passage.

The Rams are keenly aware.  

"There’s a history and legacy of great and championship-caliber teams," Rams head coach Sean McVay said. "I think that’s kind of the standard that’s been set when you look at some of the organizations and franchises in other sports industries that are in this market. That’s a thing that our guys love. If you’re gonna compete, you want to do it at the highest level and never run away from the expectations. We understand that you have to be able to earn that confidence.

"But I think with the players that we have, there is a swagger and there is a confidence. You love that, and you love this city and everything that it entails in terms of the expectations that come with that. That is something that we fully embrace."

The Lakers and Dodgers won titles as recently as 2020. No U.S. city is accustomed to winning more than Los Angeles.

"Being from here, you got to win championships," said Rams wide receiver Robert Woods, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in November. "Watching the Lakers and watching the Dodgers both winning recently in the same year, it will be really sweet if we can just get a clean sweep in all three sports. It will be pretty dynamic and memorable."

A clean sweep is within reach.

The Rams are at the precipice of their first Super Bowl title as an LA franchise (the club won Super Bowl XXXIV as the St. Louis Rams). They are set to become to first team in NFL history to play a conference championship and a Super Bowl at their home stadium.

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The franchise made bold moves to be in this exact situation, mortgaging their future to win Super Bowl LVI. They don’t have a first-round pick until the 2024 NFL Draft after trades to acquire key pieces such as quarterback Matthew Stafford and pass rusher Von Miller.

So far, that gamble is paying off.

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 30: Odell Beckham Jr. #3 of the Los Angeles Rams takes photos with fans after defeating the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game at SoFi Stadium on January 30, 2022 in Inglewood, California. The Rams defeated the 49ers 20-17. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

All that stands in the Rams’ way of a Lombardi Trophy are the Cincinnati Bengals — a team in the midst of an improbable turnaround.

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Several Rams players indicated they want to win a Super Bowl for three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, but in totality it’s Super Bowl or bust this year.

The Rams and Chargers are in the process of establishing themselves and staking their claim in the City of Angels. The Rams now have a prime opportunity to do it first and gain the attention and hearts of Angelenos.

"It’s a championship vibe. It’s a championship city," Woods said. "That’s our goal here.

"We have to be a part of that." 

Follow USA TODAY Sports+ NFL Insider Tyler Dragon on Twitter @TheTylerDragon.