By Fernando Alcantara/Garden Grove Journal
If time truly healed all wounds, then Orange County football fans desperately seeking a professional football team in the Los Angeles area should have moved on by now.
One Westminster business owner, Sal Martinez believes that the notion of “moving on” is a euphemism for quitting. And quitting on his favorite team, the Los Angeles Rams, is what he won’t do.
Even after they moved to St. Louis, he still didn’t quit on them.
With the possibility of bringing the Rams back to Los Angeles, the city that the Rams played in for 49 years, Martinez also hopes to continue cheering for his favorite team in the city where many other fans feel the Rams belong.
Martinez, owner of the Golden Ram Barber Shop in Westminster, is an Orange County native whose love for all things Rams is evident when one steps foot inside the shop.
“I became a fan when I was 7; the horn on the helmet caught my attention. Everything that had to do with the Rams, I started collecting,” Martinez said about the barbershop that is dressed in Rams memorabilia from the ceiling to the floor.
“I wanted to keep their history and tradition alive in Southern California,” Martinez said.
In addition to owning and operating the barbershop, Martinez also heads the Golden Ram Booster Club, one of many Rams booster clubs that have organized efforts to bring the Rams back to Los Angeles.
Los Angeles, the second largest sports entertainment market in the United States, which boasts two Major League baseball teams, two NBA teams, two NHL teams and even a Major League Soccer team, currently has zero professional football teams.
Last week, the Los Angeles City Council approved a non-binding agreement with Anschutz Entertainment Group to build a new football venue with Farmer’s Insurance owning the naming rights of the future stadium.
The NFL has said that an expansion of the league will not occur, forcing the developers to find a current team to move out to Los Angeles.
On that short list of teams that AEG has attempted to move, unofficially, are the Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams.
Farmers Field, as the proposed stadium’s name, and its developers hope to entice one of these teams to Los Angeles using state-of-the-art amenities as bait.
Bringing a current NFL team, instead of creating one, has current Orange County Rams fans rallying to make sure the Rams are that team.
Andrew Hogan, another Rams fan from Orange County and current University of California senior, also has directed efforts towards bringing the Rams back to Los Angeles through his website, losangelesrams.org.
The site which started as a Facebook page in 2009 was a place for Rams fans to talk football and the possibility of their return to Los Angeles, has grown from 100 “likes” at the end of 2009 to its 3,658 “likes” as of this printing.
Hogan, like Martinez, believes that it only makes sense to bring the Rams back to Los Angeles.
“The Rams are the most logical choice,” Hogan said during a phone interview. Bringing the Rams back to L.A. revives the Rams-49ers rivalry, and the NFL likes rivalries.”
“With the Rams back in L.A., it keeps the Chargers in San Diego and the Raiders in Oakland where they belong.”
“The Rams are a big part of the Southern California fabric,” Martinez said. “They had a huge Hollywood fan base when they were here.”
That 49-year fan base that the Rams have, according to Martinez, is a benefit that the Rams can only build upon if they move back to Los Angeles.
For both these men, losing the Rams was like losing a best friend and Hogan explained it in terms that fans of other teams can relate to.
“Imagine if the Dallas Cowboys left Dallas,” Hogan offered. The thought of that happening would seem unthinkable, according to Hogan, and suggested the thought of a very successful Los Angeles Lakers team leaving Los Angeles.
“Unthinkable,” Hogan said.
“A lot of Rams fans tell me that they’ll always be the L.A. Rams,” Martinez said. “I think when people think of the Rams, they just think of L.A. It’s just where they belong.”