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Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey has become the Mariachi Rams’ biggest fan



INGLEWOOD, Calif. — A trumpet blared a vibrant beat as a string ensemble joined along.

“I got five on it!” sang the Mariachi Rams as the unexpecting SoFi Stadium crowd roared in anticipation.

Standing near midfield, a grin grew across Jalen Ramsey‘s face as the Los Angeles Rams‘ cornerback glanced to the infinity screen, saw the Mariachi Rams donning his No. 5 jersey and heard their tune, one of his favorite hip-hop songs arranged with a mariachi flavor.

“The energy was amazing and in that moment I just wanted to be like, ‘Yeah, what’s up? Get turnt up!'” Ramsey recalled. “That was something that was super special and personal that they did.”

When the Mariachi Rams’ 60-second rendition of Luniz’s 1995 hit ended, Ramsey nodded his head, waved his hands in appreciation, then got back to the Week 9 game against the Tennessee Titans.

“We wanted him to actually know that we were doing it for him,” said Jesse Hernandez, one of nine band members. “Jalen is the man. He’s our buddy.”

The Mariachi Rams have grown something of a cult following since they started playing at Rams games in 2019.

“It’s electrifying,” said Santiago Alberto, a band member who arranges the group’s music. “Like the adrenaline gets going. It feels like we’re doing a concert for 70,000 fans.”

Rams fans often ask the impeccably suited band members for selfies and provide their full attention when the band performs from a stage in the Northwest corner of the stadium bowl during breaks in the football action.

But perhaps the Mariachi Rams’ most notable fan is the All-Pro Ramsey, a 27-year-old Nashville native whose attention they captured when he played his first game in Los Angeles two seasons ago after his blockbuster trade from the Jacksonville Jaguars, whom the Rams host Sunday (4:05 p.m. ET, Fox).

“It was a star-studded event like I had never experienced in my NFL career yet,” Ramsey recalled, thinking back to his first game in Los Angeles in 2019. “Then there was a mariachi band and it was something that was super unique and I knew obviously it was something that was specifically unique to the L.A. Rams, because we didn’t have that in Jacksonville.”

The Mariachi Rams perform authentic hits but enjoy mixing in occasional mariachi-infused hip-hop or popular culture music. They’ve played 2Pac’s “California Love,” the theme song to “Rocky” and even ESPN’s Monday Night Football theme. They’re the NFL’s first mariachi band.

“It’s just so cool to see all these different cultures all together, unified through sports and music,” said Alberto, a 27-year-old music teacher. “I just feel like we’re lucky that we have the opportunity.”

“Being in L.A. and being in the culture here and being around so many different people in the community, they kind of embody what L.A.’s about,” Ramsey said.

Before a Week 3 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Ramsey pulled up to SoFi Stadium in a blue and yellow Porsche and stepped out in a matching charro, a traditional mariachi suit, with custom white boots, proudly displaying his esteem for the band.

“It was just pure joy,” Ramsey said, describing his homage. “They hand-stitched everything to a T, got my measurements, everything, the suit fits perfectly. … It was super special. Super special moment.”

It was something Ramsey decided he wanted to do after watching the Mariachi Rams infuse life into the stadium with a performance during a preseason game, providing a much-needed change in atmosphere after NFL teams were forced to play mostly in silence in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We were like, ‘Damn, he looks better than we do, man!'” said a laughing Hernandez, 70, who is also a music teacher. “And he’s like a gigantic guy, like really buff. But it just like fit him like perfectly.”

“He wore it with a lot of pride,” Alberto said. “He wore it with dignity and respect.”

Because of the NFL’s safety protocols surrounding COVID-19, Ramsey has not been able to meet the band in person, but he was able to FaceTime with the group the day he wore their suit.

“They were super excited, and I was super excited to meet them, too,” Ramsey said. “I was happy to be able to represent them walking into SoFi Stadium.”

Said Alberto: “How cool is that to have an NFL player that wants to meet you or something that you’re involved in. Usually it’s the other way around.”

“It’s a cool thing because you would never expect it,” Hernandez said about Ramsey’s fandom.

In a video produced for the Los Angeles Rams’ website, Ramsey mentioned it would be cool if the band learned how to play, “I Got 5 on It.”

Little did Ramsey know, they heard his request and got to work, despite the challenge of taking an original track that included drums, keyboards and synthesizers and making it authentically mariachi, utilizing trumpets, violins, a guitarron, vihuela and guitar with only one formal rehearsal.

“I write the arrangements for the group and I thought, ‘You know what, we’re gonna do this and we’re gonna do it right.’ We’re not gonna make it like, cheesy or anything. We’re gonna do it all the way,” Alberto said. “That was a challenge, but I was up for it.”

“That was dope,” Ramsey said. “I wasn’t expecting that.”

As for Ramsey’s next request?

“I’m hoping that right after the Super Bowl, Lord willing, the Rams play in and win the Super Bowl and right after the Super Bowl I can meet them,” Ramsey said. “And we can have a good offseason of me learning how to play an instrument.”

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NFL moves to dismiss Jon Gruden lawsuit, calls ex-Las Vegas Raiders coach’s claims against league ‘baseless’



The NFL filed a motion asking a Nevada court to dismiss former Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s lawsuit against the league, saying accusations that the NFL leaked Gruden’s old, offensive emails are “baseless” and “should be dismissed for failure to state a single viable cause of action.”

The league responded Wednesday to the suit Gruden filed in district court in Clark County, Nevada, in November. The NFL filed a motion to dismiss the case and also asked the court to stay that motion until it first rules on whether the case should be moved to arbitration.

Gruden resigned as coach of the Raiders in October with more than six seasons remaining on his 10-year, $100 million contract.

He claimed a “malicious and orchestrated campaign” was used by the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell to destroy his career by leaking the old emails that included racist, misogynistic and anti-gay language.

The emails were sent to former Washington Football Team executive Bruce Allen and others from 2011 to 2018 during Gruden’s time as the lead analyst for ESPN’s Monday Night Football. The emails came from a set of 650,000 obtained by the league in June during an investigation into WFT’s workplace culture.

The Wall Street Journal first reported on Oct. 8 that Gruden used a racist trope to describe NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith.

Gruden apologized, and then coached two days later as a listless Raiders team lost at home to the Bears.

Then on Oct. 11, the New York Times revealed Gruden sent additional emails using misogynistic and anti-gay language over a seven-year period. He resigned that evening, apologizing again and saying he never meant to hurt anyone.

“Gruden does not, and cannot, dispute that he wrote the published emails. He does not, and cannot, dispute that he sent those emails to multiple parties,” the league’s filing said. “Nor does he claim that they were somehow altered or edited and that the repugnant views espoused in them were not in fact expressed by him. Instead, Gruden filed the instant complaint against the NFL and the commissioner, painting himself as the victim in a fictional story and seeking money through baseless claims against the NFL.”

Gruden’s lawyer had said “there was no explanation or justification for why Gruden’s emails were the only ones made public out of the 650,000 emails collected in the NFL’s investigation of the Washington Football Team or for why the emails were held for months before being released in the middle of the Raiders’ season.”

The league denied leaking the emails, which had been sent to up to a half-dozen people and added that Gruden had no “expectation of privacy” for the emails.

The filing said even if the league had leaked the emails it still would not constitute “intentional interference with a contract” as claimed by Gruden because the NFL had no obligation to protect the confidentiality of the emails, had the right to disclose truthful information to the media and could have suspended or canceled Gruden’s contract because of the emails.

Raiders owner Mark Davis said in October he had reached a settlement with Gruden over the final six-plus years of his contract. Davis did not reveal the terms of the settlement.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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Los Angeles Rams’ Matthew Stafford says toe feeling fine ahead of playoff game vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers



Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford doesn’t expect his injured toe to be a factor in Sunday’s divisional-round game against the Buccaneers in Tampa, Florida.

Stafford suffered the injury in the Rams’ regular-season finale against the San Francisco 49ers, a 27-24 overtime loss.

“I’m feeling OK,” Stafford said Wednesday. “The toe kind of happened in that game and that was kind of a real thing, but I got a bunch of treatment on it. I’m feeling a lot better. So I don’t see anything limiting me in this game.”

Coach Sean McVay said one of the reasons he tried to put the 49ers away with their run game near the end of regulation was because Stafford was hobbled. He said Stafford had “no limitations” Monday night against the Arizona Cardinals as the Rams leaned on their run game for much of their 34-11 wild-card victory.

Stafford was 13-of-17 passing, both easily season lows, for 202 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also ran for a score in the first playoff victory of his 13-year NFL career.

“He felt good,” McVay said. “Everything was up and available to be called. He was feeling great.”

The Rams are uncertain about the statuses of left tackle Andrew Whitworth and safety Taylor Rapp for Sunday’s game.

Whitworth, 40, got his right knee rolled up on during the Rams’ opening play against Arizona. He played 30 of the team’s 60 offensive snaps before Joe Noteboom replaced him for the remainder of the game.

McVay said tests results haven’t indicated that the Rams need to rule Whitworth out yet. He’d be a nonparticipant if the Rams were practicing Wednesday, per McVay.

“He’s got some swelling in that knee and that ankle,” McVay said. “It’s a miracle. He’s like Gumby with the way that he got rolled up on. It was not a good looking play when you watch it on the replay. But he’s a resilient guy. He responds quickly. He’s been a quick healer. For him to be able to play and start at tackle at the age of 40 tells you everything you need to know about how blessed he is with his genetics and the way he takes care of himself.

“But we’ll see how quickly he can turn around. Not sure whether he’ll be able to go or not this week. We’ll take it a day at a time. Fortunately his scans gave us some information where we didn’t have to rule him out.”

Whitworth ranked third during the regular season in ESPN’s Pass Block Win Rate among offensive tackles.

Rapp, who missed the Cardinals game, remains in concussion protocol. His absence and Jordan Fuller‘s season-ending ankle injury prompted the Rams to bring 37-year-old Eric Weddle out of his two-year retirement last week to pad their safety depth. He played 19 of 56 defensive snaps while Nick Scott and Terrell Burgess started.

“With Rapp, we’re just taking that a day at a time,” McVay said. “The concussion protocol and kind of going through those strategic steps and making sure that when you are active, you’re not having any symptoms. Those are the things we’re working through right now and I know Taylor’s going to do everything in his power to be ready if he can.”

Cornerback David Long Jr. (knee) is “doing good,” per McVay. He returned one of the Rams’ two interceptions of Kyler Murray for a touchdown Monday night. McVay said backup running back Buddy Howell (hamstring) also would have been a nonparticipant Wednesday and that “everybody else would be in good shape” if the team was practicing.

McVay expects the Rams to designate linebacker Ernest Jones to return to practice from injured reserve on Thursday, thereby starting his 21-day window to be activated to the 53-man roster.

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Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield has shoulder surgery, eyes return to ‘my true self’



Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield says he is on track to getting “back to my true self” after undergoing surgery Wednesday to repair a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder.

Dr. Orr Limpisvasti, the orthopedic surgeon for the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, performed the surgery on Mayfield’s left shoulder in California.

“Surgery went great. Was a complete success,” Mayfield said in a video posted to social media. “Now it’s on to the road to recovery. It’s one of those steps to get back to my true self. … This is not the end of my story.”

The Browns said the likely time period for Mayfield’s recovery is four to six months. He will start physical therapy on his shoulder next week and is expected to be cleared by training camp, if not sooner, a source told ESPN.

Mayfield, who suffered the shoulder injury in Week 2 and played through it for the rest of the season, will begin light throwing in April and should be able to participate in the off-season program on a limited basis, the team said.

After the Browns’ Week 17 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mayfield admitted that he was “pretty damn beat up.”

With Cleveland already eliminated from playoff contention, Mayfield sat out the team’s season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals on Jan. 9.

Even though Mayfield finished 27th in the league in QBR (35.3) this season, Cleveland general manager Andrew Berry declared last week that the Browns “fully expect” the 2018 No. 1 draft pick to be their starting quarterback in 2022 and “bounce back” from his injury-plagued season.

Mayfield will be entering the final year of his rookie contract, which will pay him close to $19 million in 2022 after the Browns exercised his fifth-year option last offseason.

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