Rams’ Sean McVay is no fan of SoFi Stadium’s artificial crowd noise

Rams coach Sean McVay loves the look of SoFi Stadium. As for the sound of the team’s new home, don’t get him started.

Actually, you don’t have to.

“I don’t know about you guys, but how irritating was that constant crowd noise that just never stopped?” McVay said before reporters even brought it up in a Zoom chat Sunday, the day after the Rams held an intrasquad scrimmage at the Inglewood stadium.

McVay wasn’t talking about a real crowd’s cheers and boos, of course, because no fans were allowed in for the scrimmage, just as no fans or only a limited and socially distanced number are expected to be allowed in for early first regular-season games.

McVay was venting about the recorded crowd sounds that were piped into SoFi Stadium throughout the two-hour scrimmage, creating a distracting din for the players and coaches at field level.

“That’s not how crowds are. They don’t just consistently sustain that noise. My eardrums, and then the frustration from the communication issues, I was ready to lose my mind yesterday,” McVay said, referring to unrelated glitches with the Rams coaches’ headsets that compounded the trouble hearing.

This wasn’t an old man’s get-off-my-lawn rant. Or, in McVay’s case, a 34-year-old’s get-off-my-artificial-turf rant.

He said artificial cheers could be done right, with a decibel level and ebbs and flows that reflect real life. That appears to be the NFL’s plan for the regular season, which starts for the Rams with a Sept. 13 home game against the Dallas Cowboys. The NFL is one of the world’s last major sports leagues to get going in the coronavirus pandemic and have to choose a soundtrack for stadiums and broadcasts.

McVay didn’t like what he heard Saturday night at what was, after all, the first action in SoFi Stadium in Inglewood not only for Rams players but also for the multi-billion-dollar sports and entertainment venue’s technical crew.

“What you’d like to have is something that closely simulates (real fans),” McVay said. “There’s nothing like having the crowd — I love the crowd noise. But that automated crowd noise, if you will, I think (they should be) trying to get it as consistent as what a game-day atmosphere would entail.”

Real fans, he said, “have an understanding that when the offense is at work, you’re quieted down, and when the defense goes, they’re really sustaining and there’s a progressive buildup as that play clock kind of ticks down.

“Whatever it is, we’ve just got to make sure we’re ready to handle it either way, no matter how much it annoys me.”

McVay concluded: “I did want to talk about it, because it irritated the hell out of me.”

Wide receiver Cooper Kupp agreed with McVay: SoFi Stadium is “incredible,” with “probably not a bad seat in the house.” But the phony crowd noise was “extremely irritating.”

“It was kind of like white noise until I realized, ‘Oh, that’s crowd noise.’ And then I couldn’t stop hearing it,” Kupp said Sunday. “You’d want to talk to somebody, and you couldn’t because this white noise was drowning out anything you wanted to say.”

The Rams announced July 21 that season tickets were being canceled and new plans made for ticket sales in anticipation of having zero to 15,000 fans at SoFi Stadium during the pandemic.

The team said last week it will follow other sports franchises and put cardboard images of fans in the stands at home games in exchange for contributions to the charitable Los Angeles Rams Foundation.

Injury report

McVay said the injury that knocked running back Darrell Henderson out of the scrimmage Saturday was a “mild hamstring.”

“We’ll be hopeful he’ll be able to get back and it won’t affect his availability for the Dallas game,” said McVay, who thinks Henderson is having “a really good camp” while competing with rookie Cam Akers and veteran Malcolm Brown to replace Todd Gurley.

Henderson went on injured reserve in 2019 after suffering a high ankle sprain in the second-to-last game of his rookie season.


• The Rams called off practice Sunday but held meetings and lifted weights. Sean McVay said the cancelation was because the team ran more plays than he expected in the fast-paced scrimmage. He said it was unrelated to the trouble some teams were having with COVID-19 positives from a New Jersey testing company.

• Rookie linebacker Terrell Lewis on testing positive for COVID-19 and missing the first two weeks of training camp  “Mentally it was more bummin’ than physically.”

• McVay gave his most optimistic-sounding prognosis yet for Taylor Rapp’s knee, which has kept the safety out of practice. “I don’t think anything is going to be threatened for the Dallas game,” the coach said.