Stan Kroenke and the St. Louis Rams

Stan-KroenkeAnyone who reads my blog with any regularity knows I’m from St. Louis, a huge sports fan, and holder of Rams season tickets. The big story around here the last few weeks involves the owner of the Rams being part of a group that is building a new football stadium in Los Angeles.

It’s no secret that the NFL would like to have a team in the largest market in the United States. It’s also no secret that Stan Kroenke is unhappy with the stadium here in St. Louis and is in the middle of negotiations to build a new one. He wants the city to provide much of the money while the city would prefer he funded the effort.

The implicit threat is that if Kroenke doesn’t get his way he will move the Rams to Los Angeles. There’s nothing new going on here. Mr. Kroenke has been playing this game with the city of St. Louis and the state of Missouri since he purchased controlling interest in the team back in 2010.

What I want to talk about today is a recent news story that’s been making the rounds. Since the announcement of the stadium plan in L.A. there has been a lot of hand-wringing here in St. Louis. State and city leaders joined the fray when they announced to the press that Mr. Kroenke wasn’t returning their calls and they were taking their case directly to the NFL.

Let me preface my comments by saying I’m a huge Rams fan. I love the team and think they are on their way back to the elite in the NFL. Maybe I’m delusional but I want the team to stay in St. Louis so I can cheer them onto to their next Super Bowl victory. I am rooting for the community leaders and Mr. Kroenke to work out a plan. That being said ….

Boo hoo, Mr. Governor, Mr. House Majority Leader, Mr. Mayor. When you encouraged Mr. Kroenke to purchase majority ownership of the Rams you invited a tough businessman to the table. When you’ve got a man like Mr. Kroenke opposite you it’s time to put on your big-boy pants. I’m of the opinion that Mr. Kroenke would like to keep the team here in Missouri. It’s his home state. His family is from here and many of his friends. Mr. Kroenke doesn’t let that change his game face.

What’s the biggest card in the deck for those who want to pressure Mr. Kroenke to stay? Hey, Stan, there ain’t no stadium in L.A. so your threats to move don’t scare me. Well, boys, Mr. Kroenke comes to play.

He’s not returning your calls? Then stop calling him.

Going behind his back to the NFL to plead with them not only doesn’t make you look strong but I also think it’s a stupid play. The NFL cares a lot more about keeping Mr. Kroenke happy, he’s the second or third wealthiest owner in the league, than it does about any Missouri politicians or a fan like me. I doubt seriously Mr. Kroenke would have gone ahead with this L.A. stadium plan if he didn’t have solid backing from the other owners about bringing a team to L.A. whether it be the Rams or someone else.

What Mr. Kroenke did was take away a chip from his opponents and potentially make a lucrative deal to lease the new stadium to whatever team moves there even if he gets the stadium he wants in St. Louis. Tough, good, business. I’ll tell you this, I wouldn’t want to be on the other side of the negotiation table from Mr. Kroenke. And if I found myself in that position I’d certainly be making my plans with great care. Not whining about how he won’t answer the phone.

You want the team to stay in St. Louis. Hammer something out. Don’t give away the farm, because Mr. Kroenke won’t respect that either. There’s money to be made by everyone when it comes to the NFL. No doubt there’s more money in L.A. than St. Louis but L.A. has failed to support a team before. There are dangers in the move. There is stiff competition from the City by the Bay, Alameda County, and down Route 1.

Don’t whine, don’t run to the press, don’t look to the NFL to save you. Figure out a plan that can work for the city, the state, and for Mr. Kroenke. Give his executive assistant a call and invite him to a dinner next Thursday at Tony’s. Call ahead and make sure Vince is there to make Bananas Foster table-side for dessert. A round of Booker’s bourbon, with a splash of water of course, might not hurt negotiations either.

Go Rams!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Black Sphere
Next Release: The Girl in Glass I: Apparition


Rams Fans Taunt Broncos Fans? Really?

Denver+Broncos+v+St+Louis+RamsAs most of my loyal readers know, I’m a huge sports fan and living in St. Louis that means when it’s football season I’m all in on the Rams. I know, I know, it hasn’t been good for a long while but I just love going to the game and I have Rams season tickets. On Sunday the Rams played, by far, their best game of the season and defeated the heavily favored Denver Broncos.

The Broncos were 7-2 going into the game while the Rams were 3-6. Broncos fans arrived early and in very strong numbers. I sit near the 40 yard-line on the Rams side of the field and generally there aren’t that many opposing team’s fans in my area as they prefer to be on the other side of the field. Yesterday was an exception as thousands of Broncos fans were everywhere in the stadium including a woman right next to me and two young boys behind me.

During the game they cheered their Broncos on, as should any fan, but they did it in what I would describe as a respectful way. As the game entered it’s final minutes they began to file out of the stadium and that’s when what I want to talk about today happened. A couple of fans not far from me started to taunt the Broncos fans. Really?

Just a quick recap for those of you who aren’t football fans. The Broncos were in the Super Bowl last year and have made the playoffs the past three seasons and it’s looking quite likely they will make it again. The Rams last made the playoffs in 2004 haven’t had a winning record since 2003 (they went to the playoffs with an 8-8 record in 2004). The Broncos have a tradition of winning and while the Rams do as well, it has been a bad ten years for the team.

When I heard those taunts I saw red. I mean, really? Here we are, sad-sacks of the NFL for the last ten years, and we manage to win one game against the team that lost in the Super Bowl last year and you’ve got the nerve to taunt their fans for leaving in the last couple of minutes of a game? Believe me, I’ve dragged my sorry behind out of Dome after losses on many occasions and when I hear a fan on the winning team taunting it gets my goat.

I turned around and yelled, “Be a gracious winner”. I wanted to yell something with a little more sting but I seem to have made my point as the taunting stopped, at least in my section.

It brought something to my mind though. What is it to be a gracious winner? What sort of person wins and then, unsatisfied with being victorious, has to taunt the losers or their fans? What does it say about the character of that person? When you win you should be joyous, not filled with rancor. It don’t even see how it’s that difficult to be magnanimous in victory. It’s a natural feeling to say something along the lines of, “well, we just played better today but you’ve got a good team“. Certainly fans from other cities have said something like that to me as I filed dejectedly out of the Dome on any number of occasions.

Defeat with dignity? That’s tougher. You’re mad your team got beat. You hate the other team and their fans. That’s a true test of character. Hold your head up and say “Darn the luck, we’ll get them next time.” That’s not easy but that’s what people with character do.

I don’t have a lot of room in my heart for Rams fans who taunt their opponent in victory. I suppose you could say our fans just aren’t used to winning but I don’t buy that excuse.

To all those Bronco fans at the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday I say this: Thanks for coming to St. Louis. I hope you had a good trip. You’ve got a great team and despite the outcome I’m sure many good days lie ahead.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Edge
Purchase The Broken Throne today!
The Black Sphere Coming Soon!

Michael Sam Reporting – Pandering to Gay Bashers

michael-sam-ramsAs many of you who read my blog know I’m a St. Louis resident and big sports fan. I consider the Cardinals, Rams, Blues, Billikins, and Missouri Tigers my home teams. I have season tickets to the Rams and I’ve observed without a lot of interest the stories revolving around Michael Sam.

For those who are not big sports fans this is a story simply because after he finished his college career but before the NFL draft Sam announced he was gay. At time he was generally considered to be someone who would be taken around the 5th round of the NFL draft. In the chaos of his life after the announcement he went to the NFL Combine and did poorly. Thus he slipped all the way to the 7th round and the Rams.

Since then there have been a plethora of stories about Sam. The Oprah network hoped to do a show about him during the Rams training camp but that didn’t seem like a good idea to anyone except the network and it was squashed.

As I said earlier, I’ve been pretty much ignoring the stories about Sam. They really don’t offer much. He’s certainly not the first homosexual in the NFL or college football. He has largely kept pretty quiet about the whole thing in his quest to make the team. The stories are almost completely fluff pieces without any substance and certainly no other 7th round pick has gotten near this publicity. It’s all about him being gay.

So why am I suddenly writing a blog about it? ESPN sent a reporter to Rams park the other day and she was all about Sam. I happened to catch the press conference after practice, called a Presser, and this woman was hounding coach Fisher about Sam to the point of annoying everyone. It wasn’t until later that I heard she went to the Rams players and started asking about Sam’s showering habits.

This line of questioning angered enough people that ESPN has had to apologize.

What is the reason ESPN sent this woman to talk to the Rams? What is the reason for all these stories? It’s not the Lesbian and Gay community and their supporters. It’s for the people who go apoplectic about lesbians and gays. They are the ones that drive the rage fueled comments about the lesbian and gay “agenda” of the story.

Do you hate gay and lesbian people? Are you sick of reading about them? Stop clicking on the stories and stop posting rage-comments. These stories are all about you! You are absolutely causing these stories to be written. ESPN sent this reporter in to ask these questions because they are pandering to gay and lesbian haters. And that’s disgusting in its own right, let alone the vile nature of the line of questioning to begin with. There are plenty of people angry about that, I won’t add to the chorus.

What makes me mad is all the people claiming ESPN is pandering to gays and lesbians. Look in the mirror. They are pandering to you.

Take a little responsibility. If you don’t want to read a story about Michael Sam because he’s gay, and that’s about the only reason he’s being written about, then don’t click on the story. Don’t write a comment. Every time you make that click and make that comment you ensure that another story will be written. And when you claim it is an “agenda” for the gay and lesbian community you’re simply wrong. It’s all about your and your clicks.

As Chris Long so succinctly tweeted, “Get over it.”

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Edge
Purchase The Broken Throne today!
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