By: Andrew “Fish” Fain
Webster’s defines the word “Betray” as: “to deliver to an enemy by treachery”. So I find it quite ironic when I hear that the city of St. Louis betrayed by the Rams as they move back to Los Angeles for the 2016 season.
In order to learn why it is so ironic, we have to go back into history. It all started back in 1979, the Rams were LA’s only football team, and had been since they moved from Cleveland in 1946 (to make way for Paul Brown’s Cleveland Browns).
Back in ’79, they were owned by Carroll Rosenbloom, they were run like a good football team should be, and they made their first ever Super Bowl. The very next year, they would move to Anaheim, but would still be LA’s team.
Rosenbloom was a wonderful owner who did whatever it took to try a build a winner in Los Angeles. You have to remember, back then, Baseball was the number one sport in the country, and LA was a Dodger town. Even the Lakers were about to see an uptick as that was the very year they drafted a 6’ 9” point guard out of Michigan State named Magic Johnson. But even with that competition, the Rams were holding their own, and even made their first ever Super Bowl that season.
While Caroll Rosenbloom knew his team could thrive in LA, his wife at the time, Georgia Frontiere saw greener pastures elsewhere. But no matter how much she tried to explain it to her husband, he was not about to move the team anywhere other than Anaheim, just 30 miles south.
Now Rosenbloom was 72 years old, but he had just undergone a very successful bypass surgery and was in great health when he drowned in his pool. The coroner stated that there was no reason to believe that this was anything else but an “unfortunate accident”.
But there were always whispers that this wasn’t the case. It was no secret that Frontiere wanted what she wanted, and she always seemed to get just that. So to many, myself included, Frontiere got away with murder.
When Rosenbloom passed, controlling interest (to the tune of 70%) of the Rams went to Frontiere, and she did the one thing she knew she could to make money, she gutted the roster. Much like Rachel Phelps in the movie Major League, Frontiere gutted the roster. The only difference is, in the movie team rallied and became a winner, ruining Phelps plan. In real life, the Rams did exactly what Frontiere wanted and stunk. From 1990 until 1995 (their last year in LA) the Rams went 23-57.
Just as Frontiere wanted, the team stunk, attendance was worse, which enabled her to file the paperwork with the league to relocate the team to St Louis (where she already had a handshake deal and a promise of a lot of money). The move was, of course approved by the NFL due to poor attendance at Rams games (which was a direct result of the team being horrible, mostly due to Frontiere making sure the best players were gone from LA), and the St Louis Rams were born, making Frontiere a much richer woman.
Of course, as soon as the team moved to St Louis, they started to become a team in the rise. Within five years of the move, the team had its greatest success, winning Super Bowl XXXIV against the Titans with a little known QB by the name of Kurt Warner. It was in St Louis they became the “Greatest Show on Turf” and brought one of the most prolific offenses the game has ever seen to the forefront.
The team has fallen on hard times of late, not having a winning season since 2003 , including having four seasons of 3 wins or less. But by that point it didn’t matter to Frontiere as the move from Los Angeles to St Louis made her ever wealthier than she was.
After she passed in 2008, her children inherited 60% ownership in the team, and after two short years, they decided to sell to minority owner Stan Kroenke (who also owns the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Mammoth of Major League Soccer and a majority stake in EPL team Arsenal).
Kroenke demanded a new stadium for the Rams in order for them to stay in St Louis. When the only proposal made was for an open air stadium near the riverfront, it was not enough to satisfy him. So on January 4th 2016 Kroenke filed the official paperwork with the NFL to relocate the Rams back to Los Angeles. On January 12th, by a vote of 30-2, the NFL approved the move and the St Louis Rams will once again be called the LA Rams for the 2016 season.
So before all you St Louisians start crying foul or feeling betrayed, remember what comes around goes around. While it sucks to lose your team (and yes this is the second time you lost it, remember the Cardinals used be in the Gateway City too), I am not sure what you expected. After all, you pilfered this team from LA to begin with, and a Ram doesn’t change its spots.