L.A. Rams’ DL Michael Hoecht honoured to represent Canada in Super Bowl LVI

Photo courtesy: Brevin Townsell / Los Angeles Rams

Canadian defensive lineman Michael Hoecht (pronounced ‘Hoyt’) has been over the moon about the opportunity to play in Super Bowl LVI ever since the L.A. Rams defeated the San Fransisco 49ers for the right to play in the NFL’s title game.

“It’s definitely been a really, really cool two weeks since the NFC Championship Game. The clock hits zero, confetti flies, and you’re just overcome with emotion because this is the moment kids dream about since you’re a little kid throwing footballs in the park with your friends,” said Hoecht in an exclusive interview with 3DownNation.

Hoecht was born in Oakville, Ont. but was raised primarily in Oakwood, Ohio. He moved back to Canada as a teenager and attended South Carleton High School in Ottawa and North Toronto Collegiate Institute in Toronto before returning to Oakwood for the final two years of high school.

The six-foot-four, 310-pound defender signed with L.A. as an undrafted free agent in April 2020 following a four-year stint at Brown University during which he earned a Bachelor of Arts with a concentration in Business, Entrepreneurship, and Organization.

“The Rams are unbelievable about developing guys and building individual strength programs, treatment, recovery, nutrition, sleep — everything you need to take of you, they do here and they’re really good about that,” said Hoecht, who dressed for all 17 regular season games this year after spending 2020 on the practice roster.

“We’ve got these unbelievable players on the offensive line that you’re just taking a whole bunch of reps with. You either learn really, really quickly or you get yourself cut. It was trial by fire and I made it out the other side all right. That sort of experience was really big to my game and growing my development and my skills.”

Alaric ‘A.J.’ Jackson (68) and Michael Hoecht (96). Photo courtesy: L.A. Rams.

Hoecht isn’t L.A.’s only undrafted Canadian player as offensive lineman Alaric ‘A.J.’ Jackson signed with the team in May after going unselected in the 2021 NFL Draft.

The native of Windsor, Ont. drew praise this past week from teammate Andrew Whitworth, who has started 235 career NFL games at offensive tackle.

“I couldn’t think more of him,” the four-time Pro Bowl selection, who was named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year on Thursday, told NFL Canada. “It’s been fun being a mentor of his and I think he’s going to be a really special one soon. It’s going to be fun to watch his career and I can’t wait to be there with him.”

L.A. traded for eight-time Pro Bowl pass-rusher Von Miller in November and the former Super Bowl MVP has recorded seven sacks in just 11 games with the team. He and Hoecht have lockers next to one another and the pair have become fast friends and golf partners.

“I love those guys to death,” Miller told NFL Canada, referencing L.A.’s two young Canadians. “I’ve grown to build a special relationship with both of those guys throughout this short eight weeks, short twelve weeks that I’ve been here. It’s an honour and a privilege to be those guys’ teammate. They’re super talented.”

23 Canadians have previously played in the Super Bowl with the most recent appearances being made by Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Ryan Hunter of the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. Only 11 Canadians have won the game, giving Hoecht and Jackson the opportunity to become part of an extraordinarily exclusive club.

“It’s just one more extra thing on top of it. I’m obviously honoured to represent Canada and represent all the great football players that have not only played in Canada but also are from Canada,” said Hoecht.

“We want to win it for each other on the Rams, we want to win it for the city of Los Angeles. Individually, I want to win it for my hometown, I want to win it for my family, I want to win it for the country of Canada, too. You’re playing for a lot and the stakes are high, but that’s what makes football great and what makes the game so special.”

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.