Who should you cheer for in the 2022 Super Bowl?
That’s an easy question for fans of this year’s participants — the Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Rams — but perhaps a bit tougher for fans outside of those realms.
Here’s three reasons to cheer for the Rams on Super Bowl Sunday:
Eric Weddle, the man who unretired
Injuries left Los Angeles in a precarious position as it entered the playoffs. Safety Taylor Rapp went into the concussion protocol just before the postseason, while fellow safety Jordan Fuller went on injured reserve with an ankle injury.
That opened the door for the Rams to turn to the past for help in their secondary. Los Angeles added former Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle, who retired two years ago, to its roster prior to the team’s wild-card matchup, and he’s been instrumental to the Rams’ postseason run.
Weddle, who starred at Utah before his 13-year NFL career, played 19 of the team’s defensive snaps in the wild-card round win over Arizona, then has been on the field for nearly every defensive snap since.
In the NFC championship game win over San Francisco, Weddle led the Rams with nine tackles in Los Angeles’ 20-17 win.
While Weddle is embracing the opportunity to play in his first Super Bowl, he knows the job is not finished.
“It’s not really so surreal in this moment. There’s a job (that needs) to be done, and the job is not finished,” he said Monday.
There’s some Hollywood magic with this team
The Rams have been creative in building a roster that’s full of big names.
Los Angeles has cashed in with first-round success stories in recent years. There’s defensive tackle Aaron Donald, a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and wide receiver Cooper Kupp, who led the NFL in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns this year.
The Rams have also become known for trading away draft capital in exchange for impactful players, an approach that brought veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford and lockdown corner Jalen Ramsey to Los Angeles.
They’ve also gone big in acquiring free agents like receiver Odell Beckham Jr., a midseason addition this year who fell out of favor in Cleveland.
That all leads to a roster that feels like it’s built for the bright lights of Hollywood.
This, too, is a bit of a snake-bitten franchise in the Super Bowl
Yes, Kurt Warner led the Rams franchise to a Super Bowl championship 22 years ago when “The Greatest Show on Turf” took over the NFL world. Their 23-16 win over the Tennessee Titans in the 2000 Super Bowl gives the Rams one more Super Bowl title than their opponent this Sunday, Cincinnati.
In three other Super Bowl appearances, though, the Rams have come out on the losing end.
They lost convincingly to Pittsburgh in their first Super Bowl in 1980. Then came a pair of Super Bowl defeats to New England and Tom Brady, 17 years apart.
Plus, there is a bad taste in the mouth of the franchise after getting shut down in their 13-3 loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl three years ago.
Can Sean McVay’s program shake off that performance and earn a bit of Super Bowl redemption, as they play in front of the home crowd Sunday at SoFi Stadium?