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Jaclyn DeGroat: Carrying a legacy of Rams fanhood
Faces of the #RamsHouse features incredible stories that highlight the passion of Rams fans
By Sydney Ringdahl Feb 13, 2021

Locked in a safe in the original manila folder it came in, are two papers outlining the entitlements and obligations expected to be upheld by Rams fans as paper holders. 

What is a paper holder, you ask? Simply put, this is the Hall of Fame for fans. 

More importantly put, this is the story of Jaclyn DeGroat, her father and his childhood best friend.

The question Jaclyn gets all the time is how she became a Rams fan. 

"I was born in New York and grew up in Pennsylvania, so it's definitely a fair question. The answer is simple though: my dad."  

Growing up just an hour outside of New York City, you might expect Jaclyn's dad to be a Giants fan, given that was his father's team.  

"Although that path makes more sense on paper, there has only ever been one team for my dad and when asked why the Rams, he would say the horns."

Luckily for him, he was not alone. One of his best friends, Jerry "Rallo," was just as mesmerized by those captivating horns. 

"While seasons change year after year, some good, some bad, one thing never changed: their loyalty. No matter how bad a season or a loss was, they never jumped ship. Not even when the Saints knocked them out of the playoffs and all the kids on the school bus sang, 'When the Saints Go Marching In.' A haunting memory Dad never got over." 

Throughout their childhood years, they watched the Rams at the bottom of the television screen, for what they called caption football, through all the team's ups and downs. 

In return, Jaclyn's dad was the first to call out other kids who were not as loyal to their team, and subsequently all respect and opinions on football from them were dismissed.  

"Perhaps this sounds over the top, but just look up the definition of fanatic and you'll see this is all within reason. Few and far between were fans like my dad and Rallo. And for those special and deserving few, lies what is to be considered the highest honor a fan could ever hope to achieve: being a paper holder."

The infamous papers were originally drafted up in 1989 by the Board of Directors—aka Jaclyn's dad and Rallo. 

"Being born in 1990, these papers are older than I am. After over 30 years, these papers are still in mint condition. Handled with great care and only taken out on special occasions, Dad kept his in their original manila folder, locked away in his Fort Knox Safe. Can you blame him? It's not every day you are recognized by Georgia Frontiere [former Rams owner] herself."

Growing up Jaclyn didn't understand the significance of these papers. All she knew was she couldn't have friends over on Sundays because that was her dad's day to scream, clap, curse and reenact football poses. 

"I can so clearly remember Super Bowl XXXIV. Everyone in my family was forced to wear a Rams jersey and being 9 years old at the time, Dad's jersey hung way past my knees. Thanks to Mike Jones, I had an extra $100 in my piggy bank that year. After the confetti fell and we were crowned champions, Dad passed out $100 dollar bills, ordered everything off of QVC and cried tears of joy. I've never seen him so happy." 

As time went on, Jaclyn began to understand the game. Around 15-years-old she was officially diagnosed with "the disease" as her father nicknamed their Rams passion. 

"I didn't see four seasons anymore, but two: football season and waiting for football season. The world stopped when it came to football. The only Sunday plans to be made during season were watching the game with my dad."

"The world stopped when it came to football."

When Jaclyn moved to Florida and later Tennessee, Sundays remained the same. She and her dad may not have been together, but they called each other during commercial breaks and halftime. 

"Although one must serve as a dedicated fan for 20 years in order to be qualified for papers, I felt my commitment to the Rams organization was strong and so I pled my case often." 

Her dad often teased that he had his papers and she didn't.  

He enjoyed having that one-up on his daughter, but she wasn't alone in her plea. Rallo's son, Billy, was right there with her.  

After the Rams beat the Titans on Christmas Eve in 2017, and earned their spot in the 2018 playoffs, Jaclyn's dad told her to look under the sofa. 

"There they were in all their glory. This was the best Christmas present I had ever received. Even though these were not my papers, the Board of Directors acknowledged my many years of loyalty and granted the official submission of team papers in my name. I was one step closer." 

The 2017 season was one of the best season's in over a decade they got to experience together. 

"We made the playoffs and although it was a short-run, I got to experience an exciting season of winning football with my Dad and for that, I will be forever grateful to the Rams because it was the last season we had together." 

On April 13, 2018, Jaclyn's dad passed away unexpectedly.  

Family and friends gathered to say their goodbyes and through tears, many stories were shared, most involving his love for the Rams.  

"Dad wore his LA Rams t-shirt I had bought for him the previous season and behind him, projected on the entire wall, was a slideshow of all the great Rams. It was beautiful." 

One of their last conversations was about all the exciting post-season moves the Rams were making for the 2018 season. 

"My dad said he was never more excited for a season to start in all his years. We even planned on going to our first game together. While Dad had been to many games throughout his years, I've still yet to experience one. Dad said with all the moves McVay and Snead were making, we owed it to them. I've dreamt of this moment for a long time. To be in the Coliseum with my dad watching our beloved Rams play the greatest sport to ever exist. Nothing could top that."

Carrying on Sundays without her dad was the hardest thing Jaclyn has ever had to do, but she did it for him. 

"Dad always said that football served as a distraction from life's hardships. While nothing could ever distract me from missing him, watching football makes me feel the closest to him. His urn, a custom Ram helmet, sits in my living room so it's as if he is there with me." 

Every Sunday, Jaclyn made sure there were football snacks, beer and shouting so loud she's sure he could hear her from Heaven. 

"I cried when we made it to the Super Bowl. I cried even harder when we didn't take home the Lombardi, but I digress, because I truly believe it was all in honor of my dad." 

As you can see, the papers aren't so much about having them in your hands, but more so giving your whole heart to the Rams and sharing that love with those around you.

"My passion for this team is next level, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm my father's daughter and I'm proud to carry on his legacy of being a Rams paper holder. These are big shoes to fill, but I promise to do him proud."

"I promise to do him proud."

Jaclyn even promises to follow in his footsteps of getting married in her dining room during halftime, just like her parents did.  

"The bond we shared over the love of the Rams is something I will cherish forever. I believe that there's a special place in Heaven for Rams fans, where they not only earn their wings, but also their horns. Until we meet again... Go Rams!"

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