Jim Thomas Live

Rams writer Bill Coats subs for Jim Thomas this week and goes one-on-one with readers at 1 p.m. Tuesday in a live chat.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009 01:00 PM CDT

Pat Gallagher (Oregon): Hey Bill,

I am a diehard Rams fan and hearing all of the news they might leave St Louis. Is this really a bad thing? The Rams really are the LA Rams. Wouldnt this be better for the Rams to go back to where they belong?

Bill Coats: Well, maybe they ought to go back to Cleveland then, where the franchise originated.

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paceram: Jim,

Am I being way too optmistic thinking the Rams can win 8-10 games this year? With a new and improved coaching staff and some good/key free agent signings and a pretty good draft I honestly think the Rams will look much better (and, be much better prepared!) than they were last season. It also sounds like the new coaching staff has the Rams on a much better weight/conditioning program that will hopefully not only get the players stronger but hopefully help prevent so many injuries. Thanks for your time!

Bill Coats: I think 7 or 8 wins is doable, if they stay relatively healthy and things go their way. But a bobble here and there could mean double-figure losses again, I fear.

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Brian: Will the Rams consider signing Michael Vick? If the Rams sell will they keep the Rams name in St. Louis?

Bill Coats: 1. Highly, highly unlikely. He falls well short on the "four pillars" test.
2. Not sure about that. My guess would be no.

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Ruben: I am curious to your thoughts on the Rams being for sale. When Chip took over the team, he stated that the Rams weren't for sale, but would listen to only buyers interested in keeping the team in St. Louis. Now, it appears the team is for sale and bidder with the highest price can do what he/she wishes, in regards to location. Was Chip just trying to keep fans buying tickets last year and now can't afford to please them? I remember getting a call from a Rams cheerleader (telemarketer), back in 1994 asking me to renew my seats, because there was word the Rams were staying. It was one last attempt to get my money before they left. I follow the Rams because of the players and tradition, not ownership. As a fan, it hurt when they left, but as a businessman, it made too much sense for them to leave. I now get the same feeling that, unless St. Louis can find a local buyer willing to pay top dollar, the Rams will be sold and moved to a location with monetary potential that St. Louis will not be able to match.

Bill Coats: Rosenbloom still would like to keep the team in STL. He definitely doesn't want to see it in LA again, where he felt his mother was treated poorly.

We're not privy to Chip's financial stresses, but there's no doubt that the tax on Georgia's estate will be huge. That might have prompted a moveup in sale timetable.

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mrchip: Hi Jim,

I was just wondering, could we the people buy the 60% of the Rams like Green Bay? Is this even a remote possibility?

Also, are the Rams in St. Louis until 2014 no matter what due to a deal with the Ed that's already signed?

Thanks,
Guy who flys to St. Louis for a game or 2 each year.

Bill Coats: 1. No, that's not possible anymore under NFL rules. The Packers are grandfathered in.

2. As I understand it, they could conceivably leave as early as 2012 if a plan isn't in place to meet the 2015 stadium requirements by then.

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Stuart: WHY NOT JUST MOVE THE RAMS OUT OF ST LOUIS?? SEEMS LOGICAL TO EVERYONE LIVING OUTSIDE OF THAT CITY!
I GUESS YOU WOULD LOSE YOUR JOB AS WELL AND SO WOULD MOST OF THE OTHER SO CALLED JOURNALISTS...EXCEPT GORDO.
Good luck in your next career!!

PS I know you probably won't post this because you hate difficult posts!!

Bill Coats: Nothing difficult about this post at all. If the Rams left, Jim Thomas and I simply would be given other assignments. We both covered different things before the Rams, and we could different things after the Rams.

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bfulton: I understand the possibility that the Rams could leave St. Louis, but where are they realistically going to go? California's budget is so bad, they need TARP money. How is LA going to finance a stadium. In this economy, what community can?

Bill Coats: As I've said previously, before the Rams leave they have to have someplace to go. As of now, they don't.

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UCityDave: Hey, Bill, what's up with Jim? I don't mean to pry if it's a personal matter, but he's been gone going on four weeks now and I'm concerned. I just hope he and his family are OK.

Bill Coats: Jim annually takes off between the draft and training camp, save for some minicamp work. It's the same this year.

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Mike Gregory: Bill, I thought Stan Kroenke had already purchased another 9% stake in the Rams, is this not so? Also, what happens to the PSL holders who purchased supposed 30 year licenses should the Rams move in 2015? It is hard to fathom the apparent tepid support from any St. Louis investor regarding our sports teams. I mean, after all, out of towners own the Rams, Cardinals, and Blues. What gives? Thanks, Mike.

Bill Coats: Kroenke still owns 40 percent of the Rams.

Don't know what would happen re PSLs.

It is a bit strange that all three owners are non-St. Louisans. Can't really explain it.

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nortzman: Jim;

Thanks for taking my e-mail. Are the rumors true that Michael Vick may be on the Rams radar? If so, where would they put him, No. 2 QB or some variant of the Wildcat? I'm not so sure his coming to St. Louis would be consistant with Spags' drive for solid resposible players, and would send out a definite mixed message that could disrupt the rebuilding process. Thoughts?

Bill Coats: Don't expect to see Vick in a Rams uniform, despite what some of the rumor-mongers out there would have you believe.

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Dan Lum: Which of the Rams rookies have signed already and who hasn't? any chance of holdouts for the unsighed guys/ How are the undrafted rookies going, particularly Phil Trautwein?

Bill Coats: None of the draft picks is signed, which is par for the course. It'll be well into July before most, if not all, of them sign. As for holdouts, who knows at this point?

The Rams like Trautwein. He's had some reps with the second unit.

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Ed Johnson: Dear Jim Since Chip and Lucia's intention about selling the team shortly after there mom's passing, it was mentioned on ESPN that Eddie DeBartolo was possibly interested! Any news to report of Eddie again being interested in purchasing the Rams and if so would he keep them in St. Louis?

Bill Coats: I talked with Eddie's "people" then, who insisted he had no interest in buying the Rams. So, I doubt whether he'd be interested now.

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Curt: Dear Jim,

There is one group that I believe will emerge in the very near future. A group headed by former ***** QB Steve Young and TE Brent Jones. It has been reported a few times in the San Francisco Chronicle that Young and Jones had long-term commitments from some very, very wealthy people in L.A. The group has publically stated that they WILL buy a team. They wanted the ***** but the Yorks won't sell. They wanted the Raiders, but Al Davis won't sell. So they've publically stated that they will find a franchise and move it to L.A. Could you imagine the Rams being owned by a group led by former *****?

Bill Coats: A group of former ***** buying the Rams and moving them back to LA ... the ultimate irony.

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nudrake: GOODBYE P$Lís. The Rams are now selling season tickets to non-PSL holders. If you donít have a PSL you pay slightly more. (Check it out on their site.) Does my PSL have any value after this?

Bill Coats: You'll have to check with the team/ticket office on that. No idea here.

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Crazy_Legs: Iím having a hard time understanding why would we put Jason Smith at RT? Last year Jake Long was drafted 1st overall and started day 1 at LT. In 2007 Joe Thomas was drafted 3rd overall and started day 1 at LT. In 2006 D'Brickashaw Ferguson was drafted 4th overall and started at LT day 1. Jason Smith was drafted 2nd overall but is projected as our RT. Skill wise is he not up to par with Long, Thomas and Ferguson? Iím a little perplexed why we would draft a guy so high who needs time to break in at another position. We havenít had a good track record recently asking players to play out of their natural position. Heíll have to learn the RT technique this year and then have to do it all over again next season to learn the LT technique. If we were a championship caliber team with a solid LT I could see playing him at RT and Barron at LT but weíre not. We will win 6 or 7 games at best. Why not have the kid break in at LT? And what are the chances Monroe or Oher will start at LT come opening day?

Bill Coats: It's not set in stone that Smith will be the RT. The Rams want to see how Barron does at LT first. He played there most often at Florida State, and it's commonly believed he's a better LT than RT. If he doesn't come through, then Smith moves over. But if Barron does succeed, then the Rams are set at T.

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Kevin: Any idea how many touches Rams are planning per game for Jackson?

Bill Coats: Exactly 27 -- 22 carries and 5 catches.
Seriously, he figures to get plenty of work in Shurmur's offense.

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cburn17: Bill,
Thanks for filling in for JT and holding the chats. Earlier I read an article on Fox Sports by Alex Marvez that deemed that the worst free agent signing in all the NFL this offseason was the Ram's signing of C Jason Brown. Mr. Marvez claims that the Rams overpaid and that Brown's limited althetism makes him a better fit at guard. What are your thoughts? Did the Rams over pay, and could we see him move to guard and if so would he be a better fit there? Thanks again.

- Bert (concerned but hopeful) Rams fan in IL

Bill Coats: Brown has looked very good at center during the spring minicamps and OTAs. He's really a bright guy and is adept at recognizing defenses quickly, which is vital when making the O-line calls. The Rams are very happy with him right where he is.

As for overpaying, who's to know? If he can help solidify arguably the weakest link on the team, just what is his value? Pretty darn high, I'd say.

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John: Bill,

Given the stadium issues and the current local and national economic climate it seems to me that the chance of the Rams remaining in St. Louis has diminished, especially with the second biggest market in the U.S. and the former home of the Rams currently without a team. What do you think the odds are that the Rams stay in St. Louis, and if they do relocate, is Los Angeles the only viable option?

Bill Coats: I'm not sure that LA is a viable option. There are very large issues involved with that notion. Not going to go into details just yet, but the league would be a very hard sell for anyone wanting to move the Rams back to LA, for a number of reasons.

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bowman1429: What's up with Chip's timing on this? In Bernie's article today it says that Dave Checketts clearly expressed his intent just last week. Is it a play to drive up the price?

Bill Coats: I think it's more of a play to prod potential local ownership to come forward.

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kiefer williams: Hi Jim.

I have a few questions for you today.

1) What is the word about Claude Wroten?
2) Any news about the strong side LB job?
3) What is the receiver line-up at this point?
4) What are the chances that Randy McMichael gets cut and the starting job is handed to Daniel Fells and we use the cap money to either trade for or sign LB or RB competition?

Bill Coats: 1. No word on Wroten yet. He was eligible to apply for reinstatement May 30. I've checked with the league office and so far have received no reply.

2. No news. Draft, Vobora and Grant are the main contestants so far.
3. Avery, Burton, Robinson . . . then fill in the blanks. Too eary.
4. Chances of that happening are just north of zero. McMichael figures to play a big role in this offense.

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NYC Rams Fan: Hi Jim,

So the obvious question: With all the talk of sale of the team, how do the front-office and coaching staff prevent this from serving as a distraction to the players?

Bill Coats: Asked Spags about that today. He said you tell them to keep the blinders on and focus on the task at hand.
Honestly, I don't think this sale stuff, at this point anyway, should distract the players. It's way too early in the process.

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real ram fan from cali: Thanks for you time : You guys do a great job covering the Rams but I would for them to come back to the west coast,,,,The fans out there are so negative ,,,,I live in the Bay area and even though the raiders and niners arent that good the fans out here really support there teams....During these chats 70% of the fans are negative,,,,Maybe you can get a job in LA with the rams,,,,These fans need to stick to baseball

Bill Coats: Let me just say this: I'll be shocked if the Rams wind up in LA after all this is said and done. Shocked.

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Rams26: Hello Bill -

Thank you for filling in for Jim. If you had to make an assessment of our linebackers, who in your opinion will be the starting strong side linebacker? I like all of the moves we have made thus far.

Thank you!

GO RAMS!!!!!!!!

Bill Coats: We're a long way from knowing the answer to that. The Rams would prefer to have Draft in the role of backup for all three LB positions. Grant and Vobora both have some upside. We'll have to wait till training camp to see who comes to the fore.

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jmfrank1: Outside of Checketts, who are other potential St. Louisans who (a) have that amount of money, and (b) might be interested in purchasing the Rams?

Bill Coats: I defer on this to Bernie, who blogged:

Stan Kroenke is still the best hope for Rams fans who want the team to stay here. There are lots of reasons: (A) He already owns 40 percent of the team. (B) He has the inside track established. (C) He has a working relationship with the Rosenbloom and his sister, Lucia Rodriguez. They like him. They appreciate the way Kroenke worked as a minority partner with their mother, the late Rams owner Georgia Frontiere. (D) He is in the best position to make a direct offer that first 60 percent (E) He has the right of first refusal and can match any offer made to Rosenbloom for that 60 percent. (F) He has local ties and knows the political landscape here. (G) As a successful real-estate developer, Kroenke had done a considerable amount of business here, and so he knows the best way to go about getting things done on the stadium front. And these stadium issues are complex and difficult. (H) He has been to many NFL ownersí meetings and has cultivated relationship inside the league. (I) And Stan Kroenke is worth more than $3 billion, as is his wife, Ann Kroenke. That helps.

The problem, of course, is the NFL rules that prohibit cross-ownership. I donít know if Kroenke is willing to sell the NBA Denver Nuggets and NHL Colorado Avalanche in order to purchase controlling interest of the Rams. I can, however, state with confidence that I believe Kroenke will lobby the NFL to get the rule change, so he can buy the Rams. He has some support among fellow owners. But if Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen wants to block a change of rules to play defense against Kroenke, he can probably line up enough votes to put up that obstacle.

4. I believe Dave Checketts will take a look at this. Last year the Blues chairman told me that he would be interested in buying the Rams should they come available. Heís had a conversation or two with Rosenbloom. The question with Checketts is capital. Can he raise enough money to pull this off? Can he find investors and credit? I think highly of Checketts. Heís been a terrific owner for the Blues, and an honorable man. But would this be too difficult a task for him?

5. What about Andy Taylor of Enterprise Rent-a-Car? The Taylor family, a longtime presence in the St. Louis community, has an estimated net worth of $9.5 billion according to Forbes magazine. Forbes listed the Taylors at No. 40 on the list of the wealthiest people in the world. That said, the auto industry is in terrible shape right now, and the economy is in recession, and the Taylors probably are more concerned about their family business. The Taylors have shown a strong devotion to charitable and community affairs. But are they sports fans? Do the Taylors want to own an NFL team? Or even if they didnít want to own an NFL team, would they do it and step in and prevent the Rams from moving to another city?

6. What about Rush Limbaugh? In interviews last year, the prominent and influential talk-radio host has expressed a desire to purchase the Rams and a desire to keep them here. The Cape Girardeau, Mo. native has described St. Louis as a great sports town. There was even a rumor going around that he had met with August Busch IV to discuss a partnership in this quest. In summer 2008 Limbaugh signed an new eight-year, $400 million deal with Clear Channel. He has a lot of money, and, as he has said, no debt. But the NFL has become a billionaireís club. (Some have estimated that Limbaugh is worth around $1 billion). Does Rush want to spend the money required to get it done? But remember, weíre only talking about buying 60 percent of the ownership shares, not 100 percent.

7. What about Kroenkeís partner, Michael Staenberg? Alert readers have touted Staenberg, so Iím following their lead by mentioning his possible role here. Staenberg works closely with Kroenke in his role of president in THF Realty. Staenberg is highly regarded in the St. Louis community for his extensive efforts in enhancing arts-culture projects, and heís been very generous with his involvement with charities. But again: I have no idea what the man is worth, and whether he could take this on. But Staenberg and Kroenke have been excellent partners in the real-estate development world, so the fit is there.

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Ineeda Hammer: Where is Jim Thomas ? Just how many weeks of vacation does he get each yr?

I've been a Ram Fan for 40yrs, live in Florida... I was so pleased with the move to STL when it happened because of the horrible fans in LA. I've been to games in both cities and based on the fans in LA, they don't deserve a team. The Rams were not the only team to leave LA... That makes LA a 2-time loser of the NFL.

Please tell me that STL will not lose another NFL team. You guys are supposed to be the Greastest Sports Town in America... I'll be a Ram Fan no matter where they play, I just hope it's STL.

Bill Coats: No cause for panic. The Rams aren't going anywhere now or in the near future.

That's it for this week. Thanks to all who participated.