NFL kicks off 2022 season for fans with a free ‘experience’ in Long Beach – San Bernardino Sun

The NFL celebrated its newest football season on Thursday, Sept. 8, with not only the first game of the year in Inglewood, but also with the Kickoff Experience for fans in Long Beach — which including a headlining performance by Latin music artist J Balvin.

The free all-day event at Alamitos Beach had various attractions, games and entertainment for the hundreds of visitors ahead of the Los Angeles Rams kicking off the NFL season against the Buffalo Bills at SoFi Stadium.

The NFL Kickoff Experience also served as a watch party, complete with big screen televisions, for those who wanted to enjoy a festive, communal atmosphere during the opening game for LA’s defending Super Bowl champions.

Long Beach celebrated the home team by having the Rams’ cheerleaders, hype team and mariachi band perform on the main stage.

Fans also gathered at the main stage to cheer, try to catch a T-shirt or participate in a sing-off. There was also a touchdown dance competition — which offered participants to show off their moves on the big screens across the beach.

Multiple former pros — including Bills Hall of Fame receiver Andre Reed, and two-time Pro Bowl and journeyman linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, who ended his career with Buffalo — hung out on the Autograph Stage, interacting with fans.

Football fans could also take photos with the Vice Lombardi Trophy and the Super Bowl rings from all 56 championship teams.

“I was excited to see the Super Bowl rings and to see J Balvin perform,” said Sally Ryee, from Los Angeles, a longtime Dallas Cowboys fan.

“It’s awesome that (the NFL) is not only having this (event) because the Rams won the Super Bowl but they’re honoring all the teams,” she said, “so it’s an NFL event, not just a Rams’ event.”

The event also featured other exclusive experiences, such as field goal kick and touch pass competitions. There was also NFL Pro Era VR Experience and the NFL Pro Shop that had newly released merchandise for teams.

The Bud Light Tavern and Smirnoff Bar were the go-to places for drinks and to take a break from the searing heat. There were various food stands as well, serving up tacos, barbeque and other cuisine.

Many fans converged on Long Beach for the NFL Experience because they couldn’t attend the Rams game in person — but still wanted to get pumped up for the season.

“It definitely made me excited for the season because I couldn’t be at the stadium,” said Compton resident and Rams fan Heidi Lozano, “so this is the next best thing.”

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