The LA Rams made a winner out of Stan Kroenke with a fourth-quarter comeback to wrestle the NFC Championship away from the San Francisco 49ers. Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo ran out of mojo and couldn’t save his team or the Kroenke-hating fans in St. Louis.
The next two weeks will be hell for those of us who don’t allow our mental health and happiness to be impacted by a football-franchise owner that treated St. Louis like his other businesses: assets that belong to him and no one else. Assets that must constantly show increases in value and turn higher profits – or he’ll take drastic measures to make that happen.
What, you thought Kroenke had a conscience?
Did you think he had a conscience when he played a major role in moving the Rams to St. Louis from LA?
What’s the difference? Both times he acted in his own interests … that’s because he does NOTHING without acting in his own interests. It’s just that we liked it when he became Georgia Frontiere’s partner in ownership and franchise relocation. We didn’t know Stan then as much as know him now. But he’s been the same guy all along. The Rams wouldn’t have moved here from LA without him, and the Rams wouldn’t have moved back to LA without him.
Do you think St. Louis is the only Kroenke victim? He does this to everybody. He’s in the process of slowly destroying Arsenal of the Premier League and tormenting Gunner fans that go to sleep praying that he’ll sell the team. (He just rejected a $2.55 billion offer.)
Compared to the St. Louis Rams, Arsenal has deeper roots (to put it lightly) and has enjoyed much more success than Kroenke’s NFL team ever had in St. Louis. I think we’re a special city. But we’re nothing special when it comes to getting smooshed by Kroenke, simply because that’s how he does it with any business that he controls.
With Kroenke going back to the Super Bowl, this will be viewed as a loss for St. Louis – right here in St. Louis. Any Kroenke success is another dagger to our collective torso. It shouldn’t be that way, but the Kroenke obsession will continue ad nauseum until the locals let go. I thought this cycle of madness would end after the 2018 LA Rams made the Super Bowl and lost.
We’re still doing this.
The local media sure as hell won’t let go, because Kroenke hating is good for business: a quick and easy way to pander to an angry fan base in a writing-or-broadcasting effort to increase personal popularity. I like to make fun of Kroenke, but that’s about the beginning and the end of it. The faux-outrage wing of the St. Louis media can have Kroenke as a marketing partner and exploit his unpopularity to gain popularity; I’ll pass on that. I don’t want Kroenke’s help to strengthen my social-media presence and “brand,” — I’d feel too ashamed.
I’m in the minority and that’s fine. And unless he does something funny (in an absurd way) I won’t be writing about Kroenke again in a long time. Maybe a note here and there. But I’ve thrown away too many mornings writing about this guy. Enough.
Not that I can make a difference.
Unless Kroenke sells the Rams or can’t find a way to fund eternal life for himself, the cursing out of Kroenke in St. Louis will be the Curse of Kroenke.
I think that’s sad.
I’ve been a city resident for all of my 37 years in St. Louis and I’m proud to live here. This is a great town with delightful neighborhoods that have unique identities, and the differences can be celebrated. It’s a town full of personality.
We don’t need Kroenke or the Rams or the NFL to thrive. We have problems … because every city has problems. The pandemic continues to hit a local economy that already was dealing with population loss and an overall drop in job growth. I’m more concerned about that than the LA Rams playing in a Super Bowl.
Without giving a Chamber of Commerce speech, we’ve done well in adding corporate muscle, establishing multiple research hubs, tech troves, and attracting entrepreneurs. Over the past four-plus years, St. Louis has popped up on “best U.S. cities” lists as a place to start a business.
Perhaps the $790 million payout by the NFL and owners to St. Louis to settle the suit over the league’s relocation fraud will be spent wisely to give our community a boost.
I’m good with the sports scene, at least for one area. The Cardinals are a crown jewel in their sport. The Blues won a Stanley Cup in 2019 and rank 4th in the NHL in wins and points over the last 11-plus seasons. The MLS expansion franchise already is operational – building relationships and community ties as construction continues on stadium that will bustle with joy when St. Louis City SC begins play in 2023. Missouri has a football team in the SEC, the second-best football league in the world, behind the NFL. And the Tigers could serve as a de facto NFL franchise for St. Louis if the leadership in CoMo ever realize that it’s missing a tremendous opportunity to fill a void.
Fixating over Kroenke is a waste of energy, and is unhealthy for morale. Let’s be honest: as long as St. Louis continues to have Kroenke on the brain, he’ll win for as long as he’s around. Getting screwed out of an NFL team is bad; giving a perpetual, rent-free lease to Kroenke for residency in your psyche is worse.
As a fan I’m swell with having my TV and two tablets ready to go in my “Lair” hang-out space at home to watch any damn NFL game that I prefer, or follow any team or player that I like, and choosing to pay attention to that what makes me happy. No outrageous parking fees, traffic jams, awful food and beverage concessions, or drunks screaming F-bombs in my ears. Just the pleasure of an all-day football fest in the comfort of my home. Fan free agency has its benefits. As the Sundays go by, I can honestly say it’s been a very long time since I’ve given thought to Kroenke while watching games. Why would I do that? Why defeat myself and my plans for Sunday relaxation? That’s absolutely insane.
Unfortunately, that’s been a widespread affliction here ever since Kroenke and the league conspired to remove the Rams from STL to establish a presence in Los Angeles. Kroenke was willing to spend as much as necessary – in this instance, more than $5 billion – to fill the longtime stadium hole in the LA market, and the perpetual hole in his soul.
Final question for your consideration: suppose Kroenke had been ordered to stay? Suppose the NFL and the league owners would have put an honest relocation process in place? Or suppose the owners would have rejected the Kroenke-LA plan in favor of the Carson plan and the new stadium for the Chargers and Raiders to share?
Let’s think about this:
1) Kroenke never would have stayed and made peace in St. Louis with the goal of winning here, and being a good teammate here.
2) Kroenke would have sued the NFL in a proceeding that would have lasted for years, which makes it extremely difficult to enjoy your football team. Maybe he would have made a deal to call off the lawyers for the rights to move the Rams to England. Perhaps the league would have given him the rights to the Las Vegas market. Who knows? But Kroenke would have fought until he got something – or a lot of things – that he really wanted.
3) The assumption: they’re going to move at some point, anyway. So why should we care here in St. Louis? (Part of Kroenke’s strategy.) And he wouldn’t have made an effort to win football games – because there wasn’t much in it for him. (Again, part of his strategy.)
4) And you should know that because you lived through it before. Kroenke and the weasels around him wanted to have a gruesome record in St. Louis to alienate the fans and erode attendance. That way they could make a big deal of “lack of fan support” in justifying a relocation bid. Had Kroenke been forced to stay in St. Louis, the intentional-losing strategy would have reached more extreme levels. A tanking job like no other we’ve seen in sports.
5) In his six seasons (2010-15) as the Rams’ sole owner in St. Louis, the team went 36-59-1 for a .380 winning percentage that ranked 27th among the 32 NFL teams. And they failed to make the playoffs over their final 11 seasons here. Why consistently make good roster upgrades and win more games and shoot for the playoffs when it could be bad for your long-term strategy to make the case for moving?
6) In his six seasons in LA, the Rams are 59-38 for a .608 winning percentage that ranks 8th in the league. After a stinky first year (2016) there, the Rams are 55-26 (.679) over the last five seasons and rank third in the league in winning percentage. They’ve made it to the postseason in four of the last five seasons, going 6-3 and qualifying for two Super Bowls.
7) Why is there such a discrepancy between the last six seasons of Kroenke in St. Louis and his first six seasons of Kroenke in Los Angeles? Gee, I’m thinking hard … I can’t come up with anything.
8) Sarcasm aside, the STL Kroenke didn’t want to win. He wanted to lose, blow up his team’s popularity, and do what he could to kill ticket sales. And the Los Angeles Kroenke desperately wants to win, because he needs to win. He has the costs of a massive stadium construction to pay off, and he must increase the demand for luxury suites, premium seats, and all tickets. Even with all of the winning the Rams’ LA support is soft, and that must make Kroenke sweat a little. So he’ll continue to go all-in on upgrading the roster because it’s good for business.
9) For much of Kroenke’s sole-ownership years, the Rams had Sam Bradford, Kellen Clemens, the bad version of Nick Foles and the likes of Austin Davis and Shaun Hill starting games. In Los Angeles, Kroenke drafted QB Jared Goff No. 1 overall – but instead of keeping Goff around, as he did the failed Bradford, the Rams traded Goff for a major upgrade at quarterback, Matthew Stafford.
10) The STL Rams wasted a 33rd overall draft pick on wide receiver Brian quick. The LA Rams drafted wide receiver Cooper Kupp with the 69th overall pick. When the STL Rams needed to pick up a wide receiver, they went for Mike Sims-Walker and Kenny Britt. When the LA RAMS needed to pick up a wide receiver, they went for Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks, or Odell Beckham Jr.
Stafford throwing it to Kupp and Beckham is a much better set of circumstances to having Kellen Clemens throw the ball to Austin Pettis and Chris Givens.
Also: probably better to have a coach who does an excellent job of devising a slick passing game (Sean McVay) than a guy (Jeff Fisher) who hates the passing game and wants to play leather-helmet football.
Wait, didn’t the Rams draft defensive lineman Aaron Donald and running back Todd Gurley while still based in St. Louis? (Yes.) So how is that tanking? Answer: because they were getting closer to making the push for a move to LA. They had already decided to go. It was time to start adding a few better players to bring to their new home. Gurley and Donald played major roles in the Rams’ 11-5 record in their second season in SoCal.
The truth is, Kroenke’s plan worked out for Kroenke. Because he WANTED it to work out. He never would have done these things had the league blocked his path to Inglewood and locked him into St. Louis. And he never would have sold the team. This Kroenke-Rams-STL mess — with so many more losing seasons — would have gone on for years and years. Who wants to be stuck with that?
As for what happened Sunday, with the win over the Niners — I can’t deny that he got his way, despite the discomfort of huge stadium cost overruns and the St. Louis legal challenge. Kroenke wanted to have a Super Bowl team to play in an over-the-top monument to the nouveau riche – with all of the greed and excess that comes with it.
And in an ideal Kroenke world that team would compete for a Super Bowl in that new stadium. Well, he went hard on having his people build a championship-caliber roster, hired the right coach, and got it done.
The St. Louis Rams did some roster upgrading of their own when they moved here from Los Angeles to prosper from the lavish revenue generated by a new football venue. And the Frontiere-Kroenke Rams won the Super Bowl in their fourth season in St. Louis. They didn’t actually win their Super Bowl in their home stadium – but Kroenke hasn’t done that in LA, either. At least not yet. His team will have that chance on Feb. 13.
I’ll be watching that Super Bowl.
I won’t be making speeches about why you all have to root against Kroenke and the Rams.
Hate-watching this game will be harmless fun in St. Louis. But if the Rams win, I’ll have another round of smoked chicken wings and sip on a cold beverage to go with it. And then I’ll move on with my night, sleep well, and jump into another fresh week on Monday morning.
I definitely will root against Kroenke. I don’t hate the team itself; Cooper Kupp and Jalen Ramsey didn’t move the franchise to Los Angeles. But I’m rooting against Kroenke for a simple reason: Joe Burrow hails from the sixth-poorest county in the nation and never will forget his roots. He’s fearless and fun and filled with entertainment. And I want to see him celebrate with his Cincinnati Bengals.
I am rooting for the Bengals for a second reason: they’re just the kind of franchise that people like Kroenke and his NFL accomplices would pull out of a smaller Midwestern market – if they could – simply for the love of money.
Thanks for reading …
Bernie invites you to listen to his opinionated sports-talk show on 590-AM The Fan, KFNS. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen by streaming online or by downloading the “Bernie Show” podcast at 590thefan.com — the 590 app works great and is available in your preferred app store.
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