Until two weeks ago I had been a die hard St. Louis Rams fan for over 20 years. But within a day's time, I quit cold turkey.
Rumors had been swirling (justifiably) for the past few years about the possibility of the team moving, so once the announcement came down, it was far from out of the blue. However, it was still a fairly large shock to the system once you finally see the ESPN alerts and the headlines in print. There was a good deal of misdirection over the course of the past year, and even more so over the past several weeks. The local Stadium Task Force had made leaps and bounds and secured the public financing needed to present a viable stadium plan to the league. In fact, St. Louis was the only city of the three in question which so much as made any attempt to produce a plan to keep it's team. For a brief moment, it almost seemed as if little old St. Louis was about to win it's case against a cold and shrewd billionaire who had made it abundantly clear he intended to rip the team from the city since the day he swooped-in and bought it.
But we all got a bit carried away and forgot that in this country, big money always wins-out over hope, due diligence, and certainly over fair process.
And as the various behind-the-scenes plots and schemes became unraveled by national and local media, it became clear that all of the false hope and misdirection was itself intentional as well. The league rigged the process, trashed it's own relocation guidelines, and made certain that one of it's richest owners got his way. The NFL is a cartel, and in the end they are under no legal obligation to be "fair." And we know now that nothing the city of St. Louis did or didn't do would have prevented it from happening.
So, it was a heavy dose of insult-to-injury to a loyal fan base which supported one of the most haphazard, aimless and boring teams over the past decade. In fact, the team was not only bad, but historically bad, giving St. Louis NFL fans the worst 5 year record in NFL *history* (15-65). That's right - fifteen wins and SIXTY-FIVE LOSSES. Only four playoff appearances in 22 years. A coaching carousel of bystanders and a litany of no-name quarterbacks and forgettable wide receivers. Factor-in an owner who flat-out refused to address the media or fan base for over six years. Alienation was his full intent, and like any rational human beings many here eventually gave into it. So, it's actually a badge of honor that St. Louis Rams fans showed up at all to these painful games over the past several years, let alone filling the Dome to above 80% capacity.
So, I'm no longer a Rams fan. In fact, I'm now Kroenke's worst enemy. In the end, he didn't leave because of anything St. Louis did or didn't do. He left because he could triple the value of his franchise by heading for Plastic California.
And that's just business - I get that.
But as a native Missourian himself, if he'd had any soul perhaps he wouldn't have been plotting to move since Day 1. Perhaps he might have held some value in the team, the fans, or the city enough to do right by it. To allow a fair process. But that was never so much as a glimmer in the eye of a man who clearly values only money and status. Anything aside from than those things is just some annoying "noise" which someone such as him wants to swat-away like a fruit fly.
St. Louis was just named "The Best Sports City in America" a year ago. It's widely regarded as the best baseball town in the world, drawing attendance numbers from a much smaller population as high as the Yankees draw in New York City. The St. Louis Blues hockey team has never won a Stanley Cup, yet fans fill the stadium year after year.
The only thing fans in St. Louis want to see is a will to win, and some small sign of any will to connect with them. It was only Kroenke who failed to do either. His other two professional franchises (The Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche) have also floundered for years on end, and are both 20th or worse in fan attendance their respective leagues.
If there is such thing as an owner who is a cancer to his franchises, Stan Kroenke is clearly it.
So good riddance, Mr. Kroneke. If St. Louis isn't good enough for you, you sure as hell aren't good enough for us any how.