NFL

The Rams were “Major League’d” in Real Life

By: Jonathan Goad

Remember the St. Louis Rams? Of course you do.

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Remember the movie Major League? I’d sure hope so.

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What if I told you that the St. Louis Rams were “Major League’d” by Stan Kroenke?

For those that haven’t seen Major League or those who don’t remember what it’s all about, here’s the plot. A new owner, who wants to move the team to Miami, purchases the Cleveland Indians. She purposely puts together a less than stellar roster of washed up players and misfits. In order for the team to move, the Indians have to lose a lot. She tries to make that happen with her not-so-subtle decisions. The team finds out that information and do all they can to make a run at the postseason.

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It’s a great movie with a lot of laughs. Charlie Sheen plays Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn. Wesley Snipes acts as Willie Mays Hayes. The great Bob Uecker plays Harry Doyle, the “Voice of the Indians.”

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If you haven’t seen this movie, stop what you’re doing and go watch it. Then come back and finish this article.

While the Rams were in St. Louis, they had a nice stretch of success. From 1999-2004, they made the playoffs all but one year. Included in that was two trips to the Super Bowl,winning it once. Following those playoff years, the Rams didn’t have a winning record until 2017, after the team had moved back to L.A.

Most teams go through cycles of being contenders, then having a few “down” years. This wasn’t quite the case for the Rams.

Stan Kroenke became part of the Rams ownership back in 1993 and helped to bring the team to St. Louis. He increased his ownership to 40% in 1997. Then after the passing of Georgia Frontiere, Kroenke bought the team outright in 2010.

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It’s no secret that the Rams had been bad in the years prior to Kroenke becoming the owner, but they struggled to even win half of their games afterwards. Part of that is due to the moves Kroenke made.

Sound familiar? Go back and read the Major League plot.

Kroenke is quoted saying he didn’t plan to move the team in this ESPN article from 2010. Here’s the quote:

“I’ve been around St. Louis and Missouri a major portion of my life,” he said. “I’ve never had any desire to lead the charge out of St. Louis. That’s not why we’re here. We’re here to work very hard and be successful in St. Louis.”

Originally, that might have been the plan. However, it’s easy to think that he knew the NFL wanted a team in Los Angeles and he acted on that. He knew there would be more money in L.A. Here’s where he sabotaged the team.

He hired Steve Spagnuolo and average-at-best Jeff Fisher to coach the team. Neither of those two won more than seven games in their tenures with the Rams. While winning isn’t 100% on the coach, ownership didn’t do much to bring in players to help.

The Rams had who they thought would lead their franchise back to the promise land in quarterback Sam Bradford. But Kroenke refused to put many weapons around him. It’s tough for a young QB to succeed when he’s relying on second-rate wide receivers to make plays for him. Pair that with a bunch of “should be good” players on the offensive line, and you get nothing but disaster.

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You may say “well they brought in some players to put around the QBs.” Kenny Britt doesn’t count as a playmaker.

What about they players they drafted? Here’s a list of the WRs the Rams have drafted after Sam Bradford in 2010:

  • Mardy Gilyard
  • Austin Pettis
  • Greg Salas
  • Brian Quick
  • Chris Givens
  • Tavon Austin (traded up to get him, that worked out…)
  • Stedman Bailey
  • Bud Sasser

Outside of Tavon Austin, I don’t think any of those players are in the NFL anymore. Well done, Kroenke. Great job with your drafting!

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When the Rams announced that they would be moving back to L.A., even with St. Louis offering to build a new stadium for Kroenke and his Rams, Stan started making moves.

They drafted star running back, Todd Gurley in 2015. He happens to be the current face of the franchise, along with Jared Goff, who they took number one overall in 2016. The Rams traded up to number one to get Goff. The player the Rams traded up to get in the few season prior, Tavon Austin.

Other notable players that the Rams have added since the announcement was made:

  • Sammy Watkins
  • Robert Woods
  • Brandin Cooks
  • Marcus Peters
  • Aqib Talib
  • Ndamukong Suh

Where was this aggressiveness when the team was in St. Louis?

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So how does this all relate to the movie Major League?

Well an owner doesn’t like the current situation. Said owner attempts to put the team through losing seasons in order to relocate to a desired location. Miami is a bigger market than Cleveland is. Los Angeles is a bigger market than St. Louis is. See the similarities yet?

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When the Rams were winning, they were selling out almost every game. Once Kroenke took control and the team started losing, attendance fell. Teams lose money when attendance falls. Kroenke’s thinking is if the team is bad, no one will come to games. We’ll lose money for a few years and move to a bigger market where there’s more money. Once we are approved to move, then we can build a competitive team, which is just what he has done. The Rams are 4-0 this season and are one of the best teams in the league.

The one difference from the movie is that the players didn’t see the writing on the wall early enough; so they couldn’t band together to make a playoff run. Although, when a team relies on the players the Rams had in St. Louis, not much can be done to have a winning season let alone make the playoffs.

To sum things up…Kroenke saw the demand for a team in L.A. He tanked his own team, the St. Louis Rams, to drive fans away leading to the loss of profits. He completely shunned the city of St. Louis even after they agreed to build a stadium. Now he’s in L.A. making moves to put a winner on the field. Sounds like a great guy to me…

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This could have been the home of the Rams. Instead, Kroenke can go kick rocks.

 

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