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  • Kroenke's moves put Rams, fans in limbo

    Kroenke's moves put Rams, fans in limbo

    Columnist By Jeff Gordon

    Now Rams fans know how Blues fans felt earlier this decade when Bill and Nancy Laurie pulled the chute on their NHL franchise.

    Not only did Blues fans endure the year-long shutout of the league -– the brainstorm of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, that sport’s hapless architect of doom -– but they saw their franchise wallow in ownership limbo when play resumed.

    Bill and Nancy Laurie put the team on the block and quit spending money on it. Since the team didn’t sell right away, the product suffered horribly.

    Rams fans are feeling that same pain. The NFL didn’t shut down for a year, but it might as well have as the Rams staggered to a 1-15 finish in 2009.

    And now this franchise, like the Blues before them, wallows in ownership limbo.

    Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez are trying to sell the franchise they inherited from their mother. That process is not going quickly or smoothly.

    With other NFL owners scratching their heads over Stan Kroenke’s ownership play, the fate of this franchise is up in the air. It’s hard to predict the outcome at this point, but this much is clear: Nothing is likely to happen any time soon.

    So Kevin Demoff, Billy Devaney and Steve Spagnuolo must do the best they can under difficult circumstances. Wish them well, because their job won’t be easy.

    They must continue the ongoing team overhaul by mixing kids and castoffs with the survivors of the unfortunate Scott Linehan Regime. They are rebuilding with draft picks and with veterans other teams deemed expendable.

    (Yes, we’re talking about you, Bobby Carpenter. And you, Kevin Payne. And you, Fred Robbins.)

    Fans are exasperated at this scenario, but where do they direct their anger?

    Rosenbloom has tried to do right by St. Louis. He and his sister inherited a team they couldn’t afford to keep. They hired well-respect football people to run the show while they tried to attract an owner committed to St. Louis. In that regard, Shahid Khan seemed like a good choice.

    But you can’t begrudge Kroenke for stepping up to protect his interests. Remember how he helped St. Louis get the team in the first place. Remember the positive relationship he fostered with Georgia Frontiere and John Shaw back in the day, when the Rams became the Greatest Show on Turf.

    He had a hand in the team’s success. Unfortunately, as minority owner he wasn’t able to head off the chaos that ensued when Shaw allowed Jay Zygmunt to run amok and drive the football operation into the ground.

    Now Kroenke is trying to sustain the franchise’s value. He tried to strike a deal with Khan to protect his interests, but failed. Now he is trying to finesse his way around the NFL’s cross-ownership rules.

    Commissioner Roger Goodell will have his hands full with all this. In the meantime, Chip and Lucia have given the Rams an operating budget that allows the team to sign all its draft picks. That budget apparently does NOT allow it to chase high-profile free agents.

    So the Rams will have to make do. Spagnuolo will have to channel his inner Mike Kitchen and try to make progress with what he has.

    It won’t be easy. As I’ve noted in this corner of cyberspace, the Sam Bradford Contract could become a big dilemma. If I represented Bradford, I wouldn’t finalize any deal until the ownership is resolved.

    Demoff has similar concerns from the Rams side, since the next owner will write the big checks on this massive contract. How much can he get done with ownership in limbo?

    Moving forward through the spring and summer, the Rams will need to make additional changes. Fans applaud Devaney for shedding failures like Alex Barron, but they fret about the remaining holes.

    The Rams need a better back-up running back. Perhaps Brian Westbrook could be that guy. Devaney will watch the market daily, looking for veterans here or there to shore up depth at other positions.

    But major additions seem unlikely, given the circumstances.

    Moving forward through the summer and spring, Spagnuolo and his staff must coach like crazy. There is a lot of chicken salad to make, if you will.

    An ownership change by summer would have been a cause for celebration. The football staff could have gained the resources and direction needed to bring the good times back.

  • #2
    Re: Kroenke's moves put Rams, fans in limbo

    Uh... who the heck is Mike Kitchen?


    • #3
      Re: Kroenke's moves put Rams, fans in limbo

      None of this makes any sense to me.

      The product suffered horribly because of the years of poor drafting/general mismanagement and insane spate of injuries, not because of money. It's been repeatedly shown that The Rams have not been cheap over the years, just foolish and snakebit.

      The Lurie/Blues comparison is illogical. Would a couple of local tv blackouts really have affected the bottom line like a yearlong lockout? I doubt it.

      The CBA situation ruined the FA season, not the Rams ownership situation. It seems more likely to me that DeSpags/Demoff are acting in character by not over-spending for the few big names out there. And now that Kroenke has made it clear that he wants to remain involved, doesn't the theory that The Rams had no money available to improve the team seem even less likely?

      What? He just woke up one day & thought " Geez, I'd better not let them run my 40% stake, already worth hundreds of millions, into the ground." To me, it's like a homeowner letting their property be infested with raccoons & hold a burglar open house on the furnishings just before it goes on the market.

      And maybe we ought to wait and see what Carpenter, Payne, and Robbins contribute on the field before sneeringly labelling them as other teams' trash, football-wise. All of them have intriguing upside to them & offer stability to the depth issue that has been a major factor in The Rams inability to withstand the injuries to the team's first string across the board.DeSpags aren't flawless but they've silenced a lot of naysayers with moves like Lau over Rey, getting Gibson for Spoon,,paying big money to J. Brown just a year ago when the ownership issue was already in play,etc. And the flopping of released vets like Pace, Holt, and Pisa all look like pretty smart moves, football & money-wise, to me.

      Yeah, DeSpags are sadsack NFL dumpster divers who don't know a Rolex from a Casio and Kroenke is a careless shortsighted billionaire who can't plan more than a few months ahead.



      Related Topics


      • eldfan
        Gorden: Rams change must come from top down
        by eldfan
        BY JEFF GORDON |
        Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner became tired of losing. He grew weary of fan complaints. He was concerned about future business as his team piled dispiriting loss on top of dispiriting loss.

        So he hired Mike Holmgren to become his Czar of Football, evaluate the state of his franchise and make the necessary changes. While it’s too soon to grade Holmgren’s overhaul – the Browns are just 3-3 this season under first–year head coach Pat Shurmur – Lerner clearly had the right idea.

        Players are largely interchangeable. Coaching staffs remain fluid. Successful NFL teams have strong top-down direction.

        "What we have now is leadership and what leadership means in this particular case is that there is one guy who sits in (the front office) who is responsible for the Cleveland Browns," Lerner told The Associated Press last October, a year after hiring Holmgren. "What that means is . . . I am dealing with one person, and being able to deal with one person makes it that we can dig in completely and effectively, as compared to previous setups we had here."

        Rams owner Stan Kroenke should learn from Lerner and install strong football leadership atop the Rams franchise. He should hire a stronger overseer, somebody he can trust fully, somebody capable of bringing a commanding presence to Rams Park and the greater St. Louis community.

        Kroenke is a busy man. His business interests make him a world traveler. His sports empires extend from Denver to London. He must depend on strong managers to keep his various enterprises running at peak efficiency.

        The Rams are running at less than peak efficiency these days, as you might have noticed.

        They are 0-6 this season. Most of the losses have been ugly. Their next opponent, the Saints, just put 62 points on Indianapolis.

        Their next home game may feature thousands of visitors from New Orleans cheering on their team at the Edward Jones Dome.

        The Rams have regressed significantly from last season’s 7-9 finish, despite spending considerable money on free-agent reinforcements. Kroenke gave the green light for big summertime spending.

        And yet this team more resembles the awful 2009 squad, which finished 1-15 under Steve Spagnuolo during his first season as head coach. This feckless play, combined with a ticket price increase, is eroding an already damaged fan base.

        Barring a turnaround for the ages during their last 10 games, the Rams will force Kroenke to take action. The right call would be to select a football CEO with the vision to chart the future course and the wherewithal to see it through.

        Stan saw a lot during his days as a minority owner. Georgia Frontiere was a true eccentric, a woman with a big heart but intermittent focus. Former Rams president John Shaw was brilliant but odd, preferring...
        -10-24-2011, 02:33 PM
      • r8rh8rmike
        St. Louis Rams' Hands Are Tied Pending Sale
        by r8rh8rmike
        St. Louis Rams' hands are tied pending sale

        By Bryan Burwell

        Watching billionaire minority owner Stan Kroenke go through the latest machinations in his effort to acquire 100 percent control of your St. Louis Rams makes me understand that apparently filthy rich men are no different from the rest of us when it comes to the American male's obsession with acquiring "stuff," even if that "stuff" just happens to be an $800 million NFL franchise.

        Yet Kroenke seems to be turning the relatively simple task of buying the Rams into a convoluted adventure that reminds me of a gluttonous kid who rolls into the candy store with a fistful of dollars but can't quite figure out how he will be able to haul out all the jellybeans, maltballs and Twizzlers he just bought, even though all he has to do is just hand his half-eaten sandwich and half-empty soda pop to his salivating baby brother.

        Enough already. Just buy the darned team, will ya?

        Kroenke has enough money to own just about anything he wants twice over, but for some reason he seems to have a hard time getting this deal done. This could have been done two years ago when Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez first inherited the Rams from their mother, Georgia Frontiere. But Stan sat back and waited until someone else expressed interest in the team, came in at the 11th hour, blocked Shahid Khan's ownership bid, then spent the last few weeks bobbing and weaving his way around the NFL's prohibition on cross-ownership of pro franchises.

        So now we learn that Kroenke's latest plan to circumvent the rules involves trying to pass the check over to his filthier rich wife, Ann, even though the chance of that flying through the NFL's scrutiny without dispute seems to be unlikely. The NFL has already balked at granting Kroenke any favors on the cross-ownership front and now indicates it won't rule on his ownership efforts later this month, which means the process could drag on all summer or even longer.

        And you know what that means, don't you?

        Kroenke's plans are botching up the already daunting task of rebuilding this moribund franchise.

        No matter how much general manager Billy Devaney and team president Kevin Demoff swear that they have not been hamstrung by the ownership being in limbo, we have to know better. Our own Jim Thomas has said that he's had several conversations with agents who have been told by Rams officials that they can't get business done on the free agent marketplace because they don't have the cash to make deals.

        No matter how much Rosenbloom says that he hasn't put the clamps down on spending, think about it. If you were selling a house, how much would you be willing to spend beyond the most superficial improvements?

        So now might be a good time for NFL Commissioner...
        -05-12-2010, 11:01 AM
      • evil disco man
        Kroenke's goal for Rams is to see progress
        by evil disco man
        By Jim Thomas

        Missouri native Stan Kroenke was unanimously approved as principal owner of the Rams 2½ weeks ago by NFL owners in Atlanta. It will take another two to three weeks for all the paperwork to be complete and for the deal to close. But for all practical purposes, Kroenke will take in his first game as the team's controlling owner Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome when the Rams open the season against Arizona.

        The Post-Dispatch caught up with Kroenke on Friday evening. What follows are his thoughts on a variety of topics, including his vision for the franchise, what kind of owner he will be, John Shaw, the LA stadium committee, his approach to making changes and more. ...

        Q: This has been more than 15 years in the making; how does it feel to be the principal owner of the Rams?

        A: "Actually it's been more like 17, if you go back to when we tried to get the expansion team in St. Louis. And there are a lot of people who I worked with that helped make it happen, people who I got to know and enjoyed working with and considered friends. Tom Eagleton (the late U.S. senator), Mayor (Freeman) Bosley and Buzz Westfall (the late St. Louis County executive) and others. I think we have demonstrated that we can run successful organizations and build them. So this is very exciting. We're excited to be able to continue that process in St. Louis. You know, the Rams have a good tradition when you think about it, and we hope to continue it."

        Q: Now that the preseason is over, what are your impressions of the 2010 team?

        A: "We've got some good young players. Watching the game in New England, I was impressed with Sam Bradford. In that kind of setting, going up against Tom Brady and going against their starting defense, he showed a lot of poise. It's like what (Patriots owner) Robert Kraft told me after the game, 'Looks like you've got a good quarterback.' And I told him, 'You ought to know.' But we've got a good young linebacker in James Laurinaitis, and other good young players. So you hope to see progress."

        Q: How well do you know coach Steve Spagnuolo and Billy Devaney, and as minority owner of the team until now, how much input did you have on team decisions?

        A: "Well, I was involved in the interview process with Steve — he's a good man. Billy I don't know as well. In the past as minority owner, you're involved in team decisions. But not to the extent that I will be now as principal owner. I guess that's all you can say about it."

        Q: Factoring in your hectic schedule, in general how much time will you spend with the team?

        A: "I enjoyed seeing the team in New England. I hope to attend as many games as I can. I've spent a lot of time in St. Louis over the years, and I don't think that will change now."

        Q: Fans hope you will become a savior of this franchise....
        -09-12-2010, 08:26 AM
      • r8rh8rmike
        Demoff Answers Questions On Rams Sale
        by r8rh8rmike
        02.11.2010 5:07 pm
        Demoff answers questions on Rams sale
        By Bill Coats
        St. Louis Post-Dispatch

        As first reported Wednesday night by Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz on, St. Louis Rams owners Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez have entered into a purchase agreement to sell the team to Shahid Khan, an auto-parts manufacturer based in Urbana, Ill.
        On Thursday afternoon, Kevin Demoff, the Rams’ executive vice president of football operations and chief operating officer, held a news conference at Rams Park. Here are some excerpts from that session:

        *Where does the process go from here?
        “Once an agreement is submitted to the league, (minority owner) Stan Kroenke has 60 days in which to decide his intentions per his original agreement with the club. And then depending on what Stan does, the league Finance Committee will look at the process and make a recommendation on any potential owner. And then it will go to the owners for a vote. . . .
        “There’s a league meeting next month in Orlando and a follow-up meeting in May. I think it’ll probably be a topic that’s discussed at both of those meetings.”

        *How strong is the commitment to keeping the Rams in St. Louis?
        “Today is a tremendously exciting day for the organization, because whether or not a sale to a prospective buyer goes through, I think it reaffirms to everybody the commitment this club has to St. Louis and our belief in this marketplace. . . .
        “Chip and Lucia have always said they want to find a buyer here, that they remain committed to finding a buyer here, and they’re passionate about St. Louis and this market. Whatever happens, I think people realize that they’re genuine about their passion for the market, this club is genuine about our efforts to be in the community and advance this team forward. . . .
        “There was obviously some skepticism based on some of the rumors swirling around the team. Whatever happens this year, I think that’ll be alleviated and people will see this organization for what it truly is: a group that is dedicated to winning on the field, improving the experience at the dome, and connecting to this community, so that people eventually realize that the Rams are St. Louis’ football team and will continue to be St. Louis’ football team.”

        *For now, is it business as usual at Rams Park?
        “On Monday, we’ll continue to hold our personnel meetings regarding free agency. Next week our scouts will travel to Indianapolis for the (NFL Scouting) Combine. . . .
        “I promise you that March 5, the league year will open up, and we’ll be hosting free agents and looking what can be done to improve this team. I promise you that in April, we’ll be submitting a card to draft a player in the first round.
        “None of that will change.”

        *Are you under any financial restraints because of the pending sale?
        “We walked...
        -02-13-2010, 09:13 AM
      • r8rh8rmike
        Burwell: Rams' Top Need Is For Someone To Be In Charge
        by r8rh8rmike
        Burwell: Rams' top need is for someone to be in charge

        BY BRYAN BURWELL, Post-Dispatch Sports Columnist
        Wednesday, December 28, 2011

        We are now down to the final week of this decidedly disappointing Rams season, which has only been notable for producing almost as many losses as offensive touchdowns. With results like this, you have to imagine that Rams owner Stan Kroenke must be up to something.

        A lot of us have been guessing that Kroenke's priority will be immediately deciding the fates of his general manager, Billy Devaney, and head coach, Steve Spagnuolo. But for the sake of this long-suffering franchise, let's hope Kroenke has his priorities in better order than that. Kroenke has more pressing business to attend to than merely deciding who should be his GM and coach. The most important thing he can do for the long-term good of this franchise is to solve the one institutional problem that has dragged this organization down for decades.

        He needs to hire someone to be in charge.

        Since the Rams arrived in St. Louis — through every coach who has been hired or fired, for every new general manager, vice president or other fancy title that some front office executive has held — the one glaring trouble with this organization is been figuring out where the buck stops.

        We never can figure out who's the ultimate authority figure at Rams Park.

        During the John Shaw years, you always got the sense that was done by some Machiavellian design. Whenever you asked someone who made a particularly controversial decision, the answer you heard most often was "wasn't me."

        I began to think that this guy, Wasn't Me, was the most powerful man in the organization. That intentional dysfunction created a lack of accountability that ultimately wrecked the franchise.

        With the new Rams regime, there's still no one in charge but it seems to be more of a design flaw than a well-orchestrated strategy. With Devaney and Spagnuolo, now at least there is a better sense of accountability because we know that Devaney's in charge of the draft and signing free agents and Spagnuolo is in charge of the on-field product.

        But based on the current organizational structure, they share the power — which means we still don't know where the buck stops. There is no one on the football side of the organizational structure who can veto either man. There's no one who can question Devaney's decisions on why he might pass on a particular player in the draft or waiver wire. But there is also no one to overrule Spagnuolo's decisions once the season starts (such as starting the season with only two quarterbacks on the roster or releasing a young and promising kid for an over-the-hill veteran).

        In football, there's an old saying that goes like this: When you have two starting QBs, it usually means you don't have one...
        -12-28-2011, 10:37 PM