The NFL’s Super Bowl LIII will kick off on Sunday, Feb. 3, and having the Los Angeles Rams as one of the teams — the other being the New England Patriots — has the interest of Southern California football fans percolating at a high level.
The San Fernando Valley has its own case of Rams fever spreading through the region.
City of San Fernando businessman and Sylmar resident Jesse Guzman who loves local sports — “anything that’s LA I am a fan of” — was so thrilled when the Rams returned from St. Louis and brought NFL football back to Los Angeles three years ago that he immediately became a season ticket-holder.
And now he is one of the lucky ones to have a ticket to the Super Bowl game that he purchased himself. He will leave for Atlanta on Friday, Feb. 1.
“I felt like it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Guzman, 30 who will travel to Atlanta on Friday for the game. “You never know when they’ll go back to being a championship team.”
Gabriel Fernandez won’t see the game in person. But as a captain of the World Tour Rams Booster Club, he will be helping throw a Super Bowl party at the sports bar Big Wangs in North Hollywood on Sunday. The guest list there has already exceeded 250 people, so the bar’s owners agreed to have more club members hang out at El Tejano, another bar they own located about a block away.
“This won’t be the last time this team is in the Super Bowl,” Fernandez said. “I think it is just the beginning.”
The last (and only time) the Rams represented Los Angeles in the Super Bowl was the 1980 game against Pittsburgh. They lost that game, 31-19.
A $3,500 Seat
Guzman, was so determined to go to this game that he left nothing to chance, buying a ticket directly as opposed to being in a lottery or trying to win a contest.
He said his game ticket cost $3,500. “And I was willing to spend up to $6,000.”
And he’s not the only Valley area fan he knows that is going to the game.
“I know a principal in Sun Valley who is going — he’s reached out to me,” Guzman said. “And I know two other persons going who are season ticket-holders. We may all be in the same section.”
The toughest decision facing Guzman is what Rams jersey to rock. He has ones bearing the name of running back Todd Gurley, quarterback Jared Goff, and defensive lineman Aaron Donald. And he has “too many hats” to choose from.
Booster Club Beginnings
Fernandez, who’s been a Rams fan “since I was 3,” said he and good friend Chris Cevallos began the World Tour about four years ago.
“When we started the Rams were still in St. Louis,” he said. “But we wanted to show people they still had a LA fan base. So we’d go to bars [supporting other teams] to watch games and try to take them over. Never rowdy, always family-friendly. We’d always find some Rams fans where we’d go, and asked them to join us.”
The club has grown to more than 400 members from the Valley and parts of Los Angeles, Fernandez said. “Most of us are season ticket-holders, and we also plan to go to four away games. Other away games we watch at Big Wangs — that’s our home bar now.”
Fernandez, 28 is expecting the same kind of turnout on Sunday that he saw for the NFC championship game against the Saints. Along with club members, Fernandez said Rams cheerleaders and the team mascot Rampage attended. So did former Ram and NFL Hall-of-Famer Jackie Slater, who signed autographs.
“We’ll be dressed in royal blue jerseys, the same ones that the team wore in the (1980) Super Bowl,” Fernandez said.
Expecting a Close Game
Both Fernandez and Guzman said they expect a low-scoring defensive game. But they also expect the Rams to win their second Lombardi trophy and deny the Patriots their sixth championship.
Fernandez is also happy that New England is the opponent.
The Patriots beat the St. Louis Rams in the 2001 game.
“We wanted Tom Brady and Patriots; we got ‘em and we are going to win it,” he said
Guzman also has “too many friends who are Patriots fans,” so there has been some good natured back-and-forth ribbing about who will win on Sunday. But even if New England triumphs, Guzman said he could take some solace in the fact that “I got to watch them go against Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback of all time.”
And if the Rams do win?
“I might cry,” Fernandez said. “I was too young to appreciate the win by St. Louis (in 1999 against Tennessee). “But now that they’re back home in LA…