Anime proves to be a valuable addition to the playbook.

As the NFL season gets deeper into its final months, the Los Angeles Rams find themselves in a tight race for second place in their division against the Seattle Seahawks. So, they did what any team who wants to win ought to do and teamed up with anime and manga’s strongest pirates of One Piece.

In a game on 3 December against the Cleveland Browns, the team’s first-ever collaboration with a Japanese anime franchise took place as all the digital signage of SoFi Stadium was graced with the likes of Luffy, Nami, Zoro, and many other characters from the long-running series.

Characters also took center stage on the stadium’s massive double-sided Infinity Screen throughout the game.

▼ Luffy





Gyah!!! …I mean, Chopper

Some 70,000 fans of both football and anime came out to support the amazing feats of athleticism seen in both and received free One Piece clear bags and One Piece x LA Rams towels at the gate.

The fun didn’t stop there as spectators were picked out throughout the game and given various AR bounties on their heads.

With fans of both One Piece and the Rams coming out, they seemed to develop a newfound appreciation for both franchises.

Excitement was high, as shown by some of the comments from fans:

“I’ve been watching One Piece since middle school. Also, I love the Rams and all LA sports. It’s the first time an anime did a collab with a major sports team, right? It’s unreal, it’s a dream come true! It’s awesome!”
“We found this game online and decided to go to the game. We support the Rams but came here for the One Piece collab, so we got a two-for-one!”
“At my first ever football game to experience the Rams x One Piece collab and my favorite Luffy is here!”

However, the game got off to a rough start for the Rams as the Browns marched down the field early on and made a wide-open pass for a touchdown. Their defense then managed to hold the Rams back and force them to make a long field goal for only three points.

Luckily, the Rams were able to answer with a 70-yard touchdown pass of their own. Almost as if in honor of Luffy, long plays seemed to dominate the first half with the Browns leveling the score 10-10 with a 40-yard field goal.

By the end of the second quarter, it was still anyone’s game, but in between each quarter, the audience was treated with One Piece video segments on the Infinity Screen and grew more energized with each one.

It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Rams exploded and scored two unanswered touchdowns and capped the game off with a safety to win 36-19 as both One Piece and Rams fans celebrated by twirling their blue towels.

This win was an important one and allowed the Rams to edge out the Seahawks for second place in their division. However, they still need to keep up this momentum to catch up to the first-place 49ers, so it might not be such a bad idea to bring One Piece back for a few more home games. Or, if they’re not available, the Rams could get Jujutsu Kaisen or Chainsaw Man to fill in.

Photos ©Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, Toei Animation, Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc.
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