We went to the mighty St. Louis Rams season opener yesterday. It was a gorgeous Sunday morning and we enjoyed some pre-game festivities, walking around Rams plaza (or whatever it’s called) before the game. Bands playing, people tailgating, a mix of Vikings fans and Rams fans – all decked out in their respective jerseys. I saw a lot of Bradford jerseys and a few Michael Sam jerseys, too. Collector’s items.
Truth be told, in another year or so, all St. Louis Rams gear may be collector’s items.
Yesterday was the start of the season. As we entered the dark confines of the dome, there was actually a noticeable buzz in the crowd. The on-screen graphics on that big, narrow screen were pretty well done. They got rid of the Led Zeppelin intro music. The National Anthem was well-performed and by the time they got around to the opening kick-off, it almost felt like old times – back when the Rams used to have winning seasons. That was more than a decade ago.
Then the game started and nothing happened. The Rams would complete a pass, then have a penalty. Run for a 1-yard gain, then have a penalty. The defense wasn’t bad. But it wasn’t really very good, either, and you just kept waiting for AP to break one or have some long bomb unleashed by the legendary Matt Cassel.
Still, they were only losing 6-0 when they got the ball back with a few minutes to spare before halftime. Maybe they could somehow get to the Viking 40-yard line and Greg the Leg could cut the margin in half. But no, there was a poorly thrown pass that should have never been thrown in the first place. Interception. Moments later, touchdown Vikings.
You could literally feel all the air go out of the dome. The Rams were deflated. Again. The second half was going to be a joke.
And it was.
I don’t even know how much of the game was left when we decided to get out of that dank, dismal dome and go take in some September sunshine.
When Jeff Fisher was hired, people were looking to him as some sort of savior. I looked at him as a football coach who had a career winning percentage that was barely above or below .500 (I can’t remember which it was but it’s well below .500 now).
Stan Kroenke has a lot of toys. In addition to the lowly Rams, he owns the Colorado Avalanche, the Denver Nuggets, the Pepsi Center where they both play, Arsenal Football Club which is one of the most valued sports franchises on the planet, the largest working ranch in Canada, 540,00 acres in Wyoming, a home in Colorado, another in Malibu and another one in Columbia, MO. He’s #92 on Forbes 400 list of the richest people in America and his wife occupies the spot immediately above him.
I’m sure that Stan is seeing how the Rams just aren’t faring too well here in St. Louis and he’s probably ready to pull the plug on his toy and move the team to LA or London.
So many people would like to say good riddance.
I’m not one of them.
I’m a person that believes having an NFL team in our city helps legitimize us in the eyes of the rest of the nation – but only to a degree. If we were to have two football franchises up and move, I don’t think we’ll ever see another one.
The bigger picture is this: if the Rams leave, it’s another sign to get out of Dodge to corporations. It’s another reason to not move here because unlike other major cities, we don’t have an NFL franchise. It’s another sign that we’re heading more in the direction of Des Moines or Topeka (not that there’s anything wrong with either of those places). We’re on a downward spiral, not an upward swing.
Despite what the national news media may tell you, there are great things going on in this city and this region. And yes, there are a multitude of problems that need fixing here as well – and whether or not we have an NFL football team really doesn’t even enter into the equation for many of those problems. I know that.
I also can see that the end is coming.
The Rams seem destined for mediocrity or worse this year. Sam has thrown his last pass as a Ram. Attendance will plummet. And before we know it, the moving vans will once again be packing up our team.
Can it be stopped?
Only Stan knows. And Stan is not telling.
Get ready for some monster tractor pulls, coming soon to a dank, dark dome near you.