Traffic. Traffic. Traffic.
“It lives up to all the hype,” Rams punter Johnny Hekker says.
It’s been 17 months since the Rams moved more than 1,800 miles from St. Louis to Los Angeles — and then bounced from Oxnard to Irvine, before planting roots in Thousand Oaks. They’re sharing laughs about the unexpected experiences of their first year, and finally, they’re settling in — on the field, and with their families.
“It’s 10 times better this year,” linebacker Alec Ogletree says. “You’re not worried about where your kids are going to go to school or where you’re going to live at.”
The Chargers, who moved north 90 miles from San Diego to Costa Mesa in June, aren’t as surprised about the scene change, and it seems the team will require less time to acclimate.
“It could have been chaotic,” general manager Tom Telesco says. “But it wasn’t.”
It helped that the Chargers remained in San Diego for several months after making the decision to move. Offseason workouts continued at the team’s San Diego-area facility, and the children of players and staffers finished the school year with friends.
“It hasn’t been bad,” tight end Hunter Henry says about the process. “Was pretty easy, really smooth.”
Because a locker room is filled with different personalities from many backgrounds, the charms of “La-La-Land” are going to affect people in various ways. Every player has an L.A. story to tell. Here are some of them:
Rams offensive lineman Rodger Saffold: “Everybody warned us about taxes, and taxes were pretty high out here, definitely wasn’t expecting them to be that high. … You see less than half of what you make which is shocking. Of course, it definitely wasn’t as bad in St. Louis, so just getting used to that is pretty hard for all of us.”
Rams offensive lineman Jamon Brown: “Car registration, smog [tests], different things when it comes to I guess what’s legal, because I never did a smog [test]. I transferred to California plates, so I had to get the smog [test], I had to get my truck weighed … I didn’t know that was a thing. . . . It was kind of like, ‘What?’ when they said, ‘Did you get your smog test?’ I had no idea.”
Rams linebacker Robert Quinn: I guess the wildlife is more free out here. I found two rattlesnakes in my backyard, so that is a little crazy. I didn’t know they were that bad but part of Mother Nature. I found one in my backyard, one in my front yard, just walking by and happened to hear it and then another one I saw, so called the exterminator, I’m not messing with them. I went by it and kept my eye on it, but at least we know where we’re at. I had enough distance so it didn’t bother me but still a little nerve-racking when you know it’s a rattlesnake.
Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree: “People just go to the beach like every day. It’s just a normal thing. Me growing up in Georgia and going to St. Louis, I don’t have beaches like that so going to the beach is like a vacation for me, but it is just like everyday life here. … I want to try surfing and so I might try that one day, eventually.”
Chargers defensive lineman Corey Liuget: “I have three kids, so I go to Disneyland, Nickelodeon, Six Flags, we do a lot of stuff up here, amusement parks, and then we just go do water activities, a lot of stuff. It’s great for my kids to be this close, it gives us something to do every day besides SeaWorld and the zoo down there in San Diego.”
Chargers safety Tre Boston: “When you hear L.A., you think of big city, entertainment, lots of media, like New York, so when you hear L.A., you see A-list superstars, so you kind of see yourself intermingling with these people, getting to meet people, people outside of football, getting to network, getting to know these people and hopefully you guys get into business later on.”
Chargers offensive lineman Joe Barksdale: “The music scene, because I like a wide range of music, R&B, blues, rock, pretty much anything. I play the guitar. … I’ve been doing it for three years. I picked it up as part of the grieving process after a significant death in my life three years ago. … It gave me something to focus on in the offseason, and it came pretty naturally.”
Chargers defensive tackle Brandon Mebane: “My momma and daddy being closer so they can help babysit. I got two kids, they are 3 and 1 years old. My daughter, she actually wants to go to Disneyland and she asks us a lot, but she don’t like waiting in line, so I got to teach her patience. ... She recognizes all the Disney characters now, her favorite is Moana, she loves Moana and she likes the Princess and the Frog and she loves ‘Toy Story 3.’ I know all the songs, especially Moana.”
Mike DiGiovanna contributed to this report.