After a few days of watching and reading old news clips, snippets, monologues, articles on everyone’s opinions on the NFL, St. Louis, the NFL in St. Louis and basically everything revolving around that fact. It seems to me that there are many people who blow up their keyboards on social media, regular folks and media personalities telling the reader or listener to “Screw the NFL!” “We don’t need them!” “If they want to come back they can pick up the bill and pay for everything.” All of these statements are valid points and they are completely justified in their feelings towards the matter. The NFL DID KNOWINGLY stick it to STL in the search for ever-increasing revenue streams to flow through the already clotted veins of the NFL’s pulsating black heart.
101 ESPN’s and St. Louis’ very own Randy Karraker has made his feelings very clear about the NFL and what they did to STL and NFL fandom in general. His speech at the NFL relocation hearings in STL from the end of 2015-2016 are something to behold. After the move, his monologue on the “Bernie & Randy” podcast was everything the STL NFL fan felt over this deal. The passion in his words moved this man to tears and to be honest I’m not afraid to state that fact.
I couldn’t attend the hearing because the NFL had capped the attendance at 1000 people with their excuse being that the two other markets (OAK, SD) didn’t have suitable facilities to house the events that had more than a thousand seats. I call bullshit! STL’s showing and rabid support of their fandom and “DIGNITY” showed the NFL that even though Kroenke stacked the deck, even though there was a complete effort on the NFL’s part to get Stan to the luscious lands of LA in his bid to move up the Forbes list. We all could see the writing on the wall, to be honest, we just couldn’t believe that the NFL would be so callous in their attempt to move the franchise back to LA in the face of it all.
Let’s be very clear about something, the NFL and it’s slimy, mangy, cronies never expected STL or the fans to put up much of a fight, much like what happened in SD and OAK. They stacked the deck against STL, pushed the stadium task force to keep moving forward (to the tune of $16 million) with their planning of a new stadium damn well knowing the fact that they (the NFL) had absolutely no intentions on staying in the gateway city. Stan Kroenke, Kevin Demoff, Eric Grubman, and Roger Goodell are all bedfellows in this devious game of musical chairs. LA was granted a seat before the game ever started, so STL was behind the 8-ball from the start. If you’re asking yourself then why the dog and pony show if they just wanted to leave then why not just leave then?
I’ll tell you why…
The NFL knew they couldn’t just up and move out of STL. They had to have justifiable reasoning to do so, regardless of how we feel about it. The NFL had to protect itself during the rigged process so there was no question to the league’s “integrity” and I use that term loosely. Even though the NFL did a masterful job at covering their tracks, the excitement from some in the Rams organization and some outside of it spilled some of the beans on the matter which has led to St. Louis, St. Louis County, and the Regional sports authority to sue Stan Kroenke and the other 31 principal owners in the league for multiple grievances.
Let’s be clear, do I think that STL has a chance to win a lawsuit against the NFL? In any situation there is a chance. That being said it’s minimal at best and the NFL has revenue streams that STL doesn’t have. The real threat is that this could go to discovery, which it has and I will tell you that the NFL has ZERO interest of this ever seeing the light of day. There will be a settlement in the matter, what that entails I do not know, but there will be a settlement.
Now this brings me to the current rumors of the Chargers being linked to a possible St. Louis move. Let me be very clear, this information never gets out unless the NFL wants it out there. This is a ploy by the powers that be within the NFL that want to settle the lawsuit to keep it from going to discovery and open court to protect the league.
I’ll go even further on the Chargers situation in LA. Projected PSL sales weren’t just down, they were drastically lower than anticipated from $400 million to $150 million. The NFL has already had meetings with the ownership groups and are weighing their options on what to do with the team. I’m tired of hearing that they have a 40-year lease and they can leave after 20 so that tells you they’re not leaving, or that the league cannot force the Spanos’ to sell the team.
The NFL can do whatever it wants and they have shown this in forcing out Jerry Richardson, former owner of the Panthers for “Conduct detrimental to the League.” Even though he agreed to sell you know it was hostile. If Dean Spanos went rogue and against league wishes, what do you think they’ll do? Stan Kroenke owns the lease and he can release them anytime he wants. The Chargers will have to start paying their $600+ million dollar relocation fee in 2019 that the league assessed them on their move to LA in 2016. They’ve started pricing their tickets drastically lower than their counterpart in LA, the Rams. Make no mistake, the Chargers are in serious trouble, but that doesn’t mean they will automatically be forced to pick up and move to the Gateway City. What it does mean is that the NFL is vetting their options and considering the lawsuit forcing the NFL into a discovery process they don’t want to be in, in a market that doesn’t support them (LA), their prior market of San Diego won’t have them and even if they could between the Spanos’ and SD they’ve had a dozen or more possible stadium proposals that have never even come close to panning out.
So, if you are the NFL where do you go? Let’s not forget that the Bills are in a bad spot in Buffalo (#53 TV market) with their current and long-standing stadium issues at the Ralph, The Jaguars have been linked to a London move for several years and it looks like current circumstances (Shahid Khan being investigated for corruption in his bid to buy Wembley Stadium) and statements by NFL officials that London looks to be more of an expansion opportunity than relocation so it looks like the Jags will not be moving from Jacksonville (#42 TV market) to London at all. The Jags are very much in play for a relocation as are the Bills and possibly the Chargers.
What other markets are available that are NFL ready as in (Plug and Play) where you can take a team overnight, plug them in and let them go. St. Louis is about it. There are other cities don’t get me wrong and I have stated in interviews and in writing that those particular cities are not ready immediately for NFL football. It would take them at least a year or two to be ready, possibly more.
Lots of people say that everything hinges on the lawsuit between STL and the NFL and I’d agree that it does play a part, but it’s not the whole enchilada. St. Louis is the only market that is NFL ready and that’s a fact. STL was NFL ready and capable when they ripped the Rams away to pad their pockets.
All I’m saying is that at the end of the day the NFL wants to be in St. Louis just for the fact of being in the #21 TV market that won’t infringe on other markets and they know that we have supported our teams even though they said the opposite when they yanked the Rams. Don’t get me wrong, the NFL is worried about the lawsuit, but it’s just a small piece of a much larger puzzle that is being played out and at the end of the day we will slowly hear information coming over the next few months on what the NFL’s grand plan is, because we know it involves money.
Thanks for reading.
N The Zone Contributor
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