From Super-team to Super Bowl: Rams eye dynasty
published : 15 Feb 2022 at 06:45
LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Rams basked in their Super Bowl victory on Monday after their expensively-assembled roster powered to victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Sunday's victory represented a spectacular jackpot for the Rams management, who recruited heavily over the past year with the goal of being able to bring an NFL title back to Los Angeles at their own SoFi Stadium.
The question now is whether Sunday's Hollywood ending turns out to be the beginning of a dynasty.
In an increasingly competitive era, no team has won back-to-back championships since the New England Patriots achieved the feat in 2004 and 2005.
The good news for the Rams is that several pillars of their championship-winning roster should be back next season.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford, who helped transform the Rams offense this season following his blockbuster trade from Detroit, has another year on his contract and is reportedly due to sign an extension.
Star receivers Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods are also under contract, along with defensive stalwarts Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey.
The dilemma will be determining whether free agents such as Odell Beckham Jr, who scored the opening touchdown on Sunday, and veteran linebacker Von Miller, will be brought back.
There are also questions about whether Donald may walk away from the sport.
One report on Sunday said Donald was contemplating retirement despite having a contract which runs through 2024.
Donald sidestepped questions about his future after Sunday's win, saying only that he was "just going to be in the moment and enjoy this today, or for a couple of days."
- 'Addictive feeling' -
Team-mate Miller was sceptical Donald would call it quits.
"I don't know man. He's done everything you can possibly do," Miller said "But this feeling here, there's nothing like it. It's addictive.
"Once you feel this — coming to the Super Bowl is one thing. But winning it is different."
There have also been murmurings that Rams coach Sean McVay could consider his future.
McVay became the youngest winning Super Bowl head coach in history on Sunday after taking the title at 36 years and 20 days.
McVay, who became the youngest head coach in the history of the NFL when he was appointed by the Rams in 2017, has already taken the team to two Super Bowl appearances during his reign.
A weary McVay paid tribute to his team's "selflessness" and mental resilience on Monday at the traditional post Super Bowl press conference.
"People wanted to win a championship, do something special, for the other people they cared about," McVay said.
"This was the most selfless group I've ever been a part of. They played for one another, they trusted one another and they picked each other up through good and bad. I felt that's what made us so special.
"When you get great players and great coaches that are all committed and pulling that rope in the same direction, great things can happen.
"The mental toughness, the resilience, the belief in each other. It was such a powerful thing."
McVay reserved special praise for wide receiver Cooper Kupp, who was named the Super Bowl's MVP after a performance which included the winning touchdown.
Working in tandem with quarterback Stafford, Kupp put the Rams on his shoulders in the final game-winning drive, making catch after catch despite being relentlessly double-teamed.
"Cooper epitomises what's right about this team," McVay said. "The selflessness, the humility, the clutch production when we had to have it.
"I'm better as a coach and as a person for being around Cooper Kupp. He's made such an impact on me."
Kupp meanwhile, who was planning a trip to Disneyland on Monday alongside Stafford and Donald, said victory owed everything to the total commitment of the Rams locker room.
Kupp calculated he had spent around 500 hours of voluntary practice in addition to obligatory time throughout the season.
"So many guys that have just respected the game, have put in the work and the time," Kupp said.
"And that was a huge thing going into this. We said 'We've got guys who deserve a Super Bowl'.
"That's kind of what makes this team so special."
Easing of Covid-19 restrictions meanwhile means that the Rams will be the first Los Angeles franchise to enjoy a traditional victory parade since the pandemic.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Lakers both won championships in 2020 but were unable to celebrate with a parade due to Covid-19. The Rams parade will be held on Wednesday.