Rams, Bengals have enough stars to keep attention on field


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Three-time AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald. Three-time All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. with his pass-catching flair. And the NFL’s best receiver this year in Cooper Kupp.

Those are only some of the big names on the Los Angeles Rams.

Then there’s Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow. Young, confident to the point of brashness and with a fashion sense and style off the field reminiscent of another young QB named Joe who once made waves on the big stage in Joe Namath.

Yes, there will be more than enough star power on the field Sunday at the Super Bowl to match the celebrities in the stands at SoFi Stadium.

“I think if you look cool in the dictionary, there’s a picture of him in some Cartier shades,” Beckham said of Burrow. “This guy is smooth and truly, as … he’s going to be one of the greats, I feel like. And I truly believe that Joe Burrow yes, is definitely cool, for sure.”

Burrow has earned plenty of attention leading the Bengals far beyond worst to first in just his second NFL season. With Cincinnati’s first Super Bowl berth since the 1988 season, Burrow is the toast of Ohio. LeBron James has reached out to him and rapper Kid Cudi direct messaged Burrow on social media.

It’s why Burrow is staying off social media.

“I haven’t checked in a while,” Burrow said. “My phone hasn’t been blowing up as much, so that’s been nice. Just trying to eliminate those distractions. But yeah, the social part of the position that I’m in, it’s crazier than the football part to me.”

Burrow showed off his fashion sense at the AFC title game. First with a big coat on his way into Arrowhead Stadium, then with a gold and diamond necklace over his classic black turtleneck postgame. Cincinnati rookie kicker Evan McPherson says Burrow’s style is pushing him to up his own game for the Super Bowl.

“I probably learned a thing or two from him …,” McPherson said. “My favorite one is probably the jacket from this past (game) in my opinion. It’s definitely special and definitely unique.”

The Rams live in Los Angeles — Hollywood, you know — so style comes naturally. No outfit can come close to matching the sheer star power on the roster for a team that seemingly can’t collect enough big names.

They traded for Matthew Stafford, upgrading significantly at quarterback. During this season, they traded for linebacker Von Miller, the NFL’s active sacks leader and Super Bowl 50 MVP; signed Beckham in November after he was released by Cleveland; and lured safety Eric Weddle out of retirement for the postseason.

“We got a lot of stars over here,” Ramsey said. “We oozing with confidence as well. So don’t forget about who we really are over here. We’ve been playing some great ball in this postseason. And you know obviously we got individual guys who have been great and doing great things in this league for years and years and years.”

Kupp turned in the best performance by a receiver in the NFL with 145 catches for 1,947 yards. He credits coach Sean McVay with not shying away from letting his best players work against each other.

“I get to line up against Jalen Ramsey and compete against Jalen Ramsey every single week,” Kupp said. “Now, that is a huge advantage for me, and so thankful that coach allows us to be in those positions to compete against each other to sharpen each other.”

McVay, who has the Rams in their second Super Bowl in four seasons, sees all those stars sharing several of the same traits. They all love football, are extremely intelligent and want to win. McVay and his coaches explain why something needs to happen, and the Rams follow through.

“That has been a huge part of why this team has been special,” McVay said. “Yes, you have a lot of guys who’ve established themselves as big-time players in this league, but one of the thing’s that’s common about all those guys, they’re great competitors that they want to win a championship.”

In addition to Burrow, Cincinnati has a star in the making in Pro Bowl rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase.

For a team used to playing at 1 p.m. each Sunday through the season far from nationally televised games, the Bengals are eager to take advantage of this spotlight.

“We got to prove ourselves to get on the big stage, and that’s what we’ve done,” Cincinnati wide receiver Tyler Boyd said. “And it’s showing off.”

Exactly the way stars do.

By Teresa M. Walker

AP Pro Football Writer

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