Now that the initial anger is beginning to subside — and I stress beginning — the loss of the NFL in St. Louis is becoming a reality.
The Rams may have been bad in recent history, but they were our lovable losers and their departure is felt deeper than just on the field. Football is a way of life for some people; it’s time with family, get-togethers with friends on Sunday afternoon; it’s lasting memories that help mold lives.
I still remember when my dad took me to Cardinal baseball games when I was a kid. Those are embedded in my brain as cherished heirlooms.
Unfortunately, the Cardinal football team packed their bags for Arizona when I was a kid and I was 19 years old before the Rams played a down in St. Louis. I have friends who have kids that have grown up with the Rams as their team, though, and it’s hard for them to understand the business dynamics surrounding their favorite team being stripped away and moved halfway across the country.
When the NFL met with its owners on Jan. 12 in Houston and the vote was announced that the Rams would for certain be moved to Engelwood, Calif., I was immediately miffed. It seemed the whole plan had been orchestrated by men much richer than me in an attempt to get richer. When Forbes Magazine then announced that the Rams doubled their worth as a franchise due to the move, it was evident that was the case. As of Tuesday afternoon, Forbes had Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s worth listed at $7.4 billion. I guess he needed a little more.
My mind then shifted off of the playing field. What about some of my fellow journalists and photojournalists who primarily have worked covering the Rams? Would they lose their jobs? What about the ushers and workers at the Edward Jones Dome who always worked hard to supply a good gameday product? What would happen to them?
I also thought of all those kids that have been stripped of the memories of attending games with their dads. It has an effect on the youth gridiron, too.
For example, in Week 5 of the prep season the Civic Memorial Eagles and Jersey Panthers were voted the Rams Game of the Week. When CM blistered the rival Panthers 42-6 in Jerseyville, the team circled on the field with a sign awarded to then head coach Justin Winslow as Rams Coach of the Week.
CM received a $1,000 grant and a state-of-the-art tackling dummy to use at practices. It was a proud day for those boys, one they won’t forget, and it benefited the school and the football program. So much for those opportunities; they’ve been shipped to Cali with the Rams.
As a fan of the NFL, but someone who had his formative years without a local team, I became a fan of the Green Bay Packers. Many of my friends are in the same boat, they are Chiefs fans, Bears fans, Steelers fans, Cowboys fans, Patriot fans — we found other teams because we didn’t have one of our own.
When the Rams came, we all embraced them and in most cases they became our second team. The greatest thing was it gave us a chance to see our team on the NFL stage and not have to travel out of the area to do it.
Once I became a sportswriter, my job allotted me the opportunity to cover games. One of the highlights of career and my sports memories was getting to see Brett Favre break the all-time passing record in St. Louis in his final year with the Packers.
Now myself and others are relegated to watching our teams on television all the time. We can’t be rewarded with having them come through St. Louis on occasion.
But don’t get me wrong: there are still some great Rams memories, too. We did get to celebrate a Super Bowl in 2000 and that can never be taken away from us.
I’ll never forget skipping a day of college with a slew of my buddies to make the trek downtown to celebrate at the Super Bowl parade.
It was cold as heck and we spent the day standing in a puddle of icy water at Kiener Plaza watching as Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Orlando Pace and company paraded by and walked to a stage to address the fans. We were right in front of the stage soaking it all in; a day I’ll never forget. I didn’t even mind being half frozen and having to thaw out my feet when I got home.
I’ve tried to think of those memories lately instead of the ones of anger and resentment that have been filling my head. Who knows if I’ll ever see another NFL team come to the Gateway City in my lifetime, but for the last 20 years the Rams were ours, or at least on borrow from California. Thanks for the memories — I guess.
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