Bernie Bytes: Fisher and the Rams' future here ..
BY BERNIE MIKLASZ,
Monday, January 9, 2012 12:25 pm
See what Jeff Fisher is causing? We have a little Oliver Stone parlor game on what Fisher's decision could mean for the Rams' future in STL. As reported by Jim Thomas of the Post-Dispatch, Fisher is said to be concerned about a Rams' move to Los Angeles. After having endured the chaos of the Oilers' messy move from Houston to Nashville, Fisher understandably would like to avoid going through similar turmoil in the future.
JT's report has created a highly elevated state of media/fan arousal in St. Louis, and if you look out of your office or home window, you may see any number of STL media members dressed in a Chicken Little costume, shrieking that the sky is falling. If you see one, do not call 911; offer the agitated person a cold beer and a club sandwich — with some perspective on the side.
If Fisher chooses the Miami Dolphins over the Rams, does this mean we should presume that the Rams will bolt to LA? Of course not.
It just reaffirms what we already know:
1. Rams owner Stan Kroenke has an escape clause from the Edward Jones Dome and is keeping his options open.
2. Kroenke is a stone-cold businessman, and he has leverage on his side. He'll use that leverage to make a deal that maximizes his situation in St. Louis. This is what high-stakes businessmen do. I still believe that Kroenke wants to stay here, but he won't make it easy, and there are no guarantees. And no, Bill McClellan, I'm not predicting that the Rams will stay in St. Louis. Hardly. For months now I've repeatedly sounded off on this theme, so for those who have missed it, I'm happy to go through it again ...
3. Unless there's some miracle renovation that magically transforms The Ed into a spot among the top 25 percent of NFL stadiums, Kroenke is free to go after the 2014 season. And if he wants to go, no one can stop him. That's the reality. Heck, depending on what happens this year with his negotiations with the CVC, Kroenke could even take the bold step of buying out the lease and leaving early. I'd be shocked if Kroenke did that, but again, nothing can be ruled out. Again, if Kroenke wants to go -- he can go. And I'm not betting on an outcome, either way. Too soon to tell.
As a side note, let me add this: the Rams aren't acting like a franchise that is planning to cut and run. They've been aggressive and dedicated in expanding and deepening their community-wide roots; Rams-related charitable activities and reach-out efforts to fans have have increased. Perfect? Heck, no. But the franchise is much more in touch with the STL community and fans. Another example: with Kroenke's go-ahead, Rams Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff has taken whatever measures necessary to ensure that home games wouldn't be blacked out locally. And in some instances it meant that Kroenke bought up tickets to keep a home game on free TV. It isn't fashionable to recognize some of the good things that the Rams have done, but so be it. I'll be demonized for actually acknowledging a positive aspect of the Rams operation, but that's OK. I prefer to be fair.
4. Given Kroenke's bottom-line approach to the stadium negotiations, and given his obvious desire to maintain leverage, what exactly did you expect him to say to Fisher? I have no information on what Kroenke told Fisher. But I have no reason to believe Kroenke would guarantee the Rams' future in St. Louis in order to secure the services of a head coach. Kroenke isn't going to sacrifice his stadium-bartering leverage to get Fisher. I think Fisher would be a good hire. Obviously Kroenke believes Fisher would be a good hire. But not so good that Kroenke would give up a huge advantage in upcoming stadium talks. If you want to rip Kroenke for that, go ahead. You'll receive no pushback from me. I'm just explaining the situation.
It's funny how this works. Early on, when it became clear that Fisher was Kroenke's No. 1 target, some fans rushed to the opinion that Fisher would take the Rams' job because he wants to go to LA. My response to that: absolute nonsense. Why? Because any coach that's tried to hold a team together during a franchise move knows that it's a giant pain and a distraction. No coach with options would actively volunteer to go through it a second time. So my hunch was correct. Fisher has concerns about a potential move.
5. Understand this: If Fisher takes the Rams' job, it does not mean that the Rams are staying. It means that he still thinks this is a better job than the Miami gig, and that he's willing to take his chances and live for today instead of having his life consumed by something that might happen several years from now. And it could mean that Fisher believes that Kroenke will sincerely try to stay in St. Louis, even though there are no guarantees, no assurances. (Again: that's basically my view of the situation.)
I realize that many of you believe the smart play for Kroenke -- and the only acceptable play -- is to announce that he's staying in STL. It would inspire trust and enthusiasm and lead to better ticket sales. It would make Kroenke a very popular man. I do not disagree with your opinion on that. Not at all. I don't blame you for feeling that way. But ... it won't happen. Again, I Kroenke isn't going to commit to anything until he has a chance to play the angles and work his best deal. And you, as a consumer, have the right to boycott his product (the Rams) until he commits.
Hey, if Fisher doesn't take the Rams' job it's bad for Kroenke. He will have lost out on the top candidate in this year's coaching pool. Also, losing out on Fisher will create panic, with many assuming that the decision confirms the Rams' inevitable departure from STL. Kroenke will take a PR beating, whether it's deserved or not.
And if Fisher is so concerned about the team moving, this is all he has to do: get an "out" in his contract that gives him the freedom to escape his Rams contract in the event of a franchise transfer.
This Oliver Stone parlor game soon will be over. And I will guarantee one thing: no matter what Fisher decides, the level of overreaction in St. Louis will be extreme. If he says no, the Chicken Littles will lose their minds and begin clucking that the Rams are leaving, the Rams are leaving, the Rams are leaving!!! If Fisher says yes to Kroenke, the Candy Landers will tell you that this proves that the Rams are staying in St. Louis forever and ever and that it's time for party hats.
If you want to be naive by swallowing either version, do so at risk to your own mental health. The truth and reality is this: no one knows what Stan Kroenke will do. Not Jeff Fisher. Not me. Not you. Not even Stan Kroenke.
Thanks for reading ...
Re: Bernie Bytes: Fisher and the Rams' future here ..
[QUOTE=MauiRam;411880]And if Fisher is so concerned about the team moving, this is all he has to do: get an "out" in his contract that gives him the freedom to escape his Rams contract in the event of a franchise transfer.
Exactly, or a hefty bonus. The potential move to L.A. will not keep Fisher from signing.
Re: Bernie Bytes: Fisher and the Rams' future here ..
Agreed. A potential move could take as long as 2-3 years, and it's all speculative anyway. A fat check and the promise of a better transition ( not hard to beat Bud Adams here) and all is good.
Originally Posted by MikeB1603