Hope springs eternal with the start of each new football season.
St. Louis Rams fans hope 2011 will soon become a distant memory. Years of losing, disappointment and frustration have been washed away and replaced with optimism for the coming year. A new head coach, a healthy quarterback and a hungry running back have given fans reason to believe this year won’t resemble those of the past.
Rams fans came out in waves to celebrate the home opener Sunday. Everywhere you looked, blue and gold-clad fans surrounded the Edward Jones Dome and the streets around it. Sure, there were a few Robert Griffin III jerseys sprinkled in too, but generally blue was the color of choice in downtown St. Louis Sunday.
Rams flags flying, grills heating and beverages flowing were just some of the sights and sounds hours before kickoff. With a band getting the crowd pumped up, fans were ready for the Jeff Fisher era to begin.
“Jeff Fisher wins anywhere he goes,” tailgater and Rams fan Ryan Gregg said.
Fisher and his team almost pulled off what would have been the upset of the week when they took the Detroit Lions down to the wire in week one. Fisher’s reputation as a coach who elevates the level of play of his teams has energized the fan base and gotten fans expecting to see a better product when they come to the Dome.
It’s not just outside the Dome that enthusiasm was evident, either. The noise level inside the Dome on Washington’s first possession was just shy of deafening. It was a sound that became rare near the end of the 2011 season.
But fans’ optimism is also tempered by the lack of recent success. Failure isn’t tolerated, but it’s a long-term plan to get the team to where it needs to be. Hope, however eternal, isn’t confused with blind optimism.
“I’d be happy if we can keep a healthy team – maintain at least 80 percent of our starters,” fan Rob Dunham said. “If we can be .500 or better, you can’t look at that as anything but a success.”