It’s been just over a week, and I still can’t seem to wrap my brain around the fact that not only is St. Louis now sans an NFL football, team, but it is my St. Louis Rams, the now renamed, Los Angeles Rams who are vacating.
Like everyone else in the city, in the state, within spitting range of anything NFL related, I’d heard the rumors, and I’d chosen, instead, to keep my blinders securely in place, hoping it just wouldn’t come to pass.
But alas. Last Tuesday night.
I cried like a high school girl being dumped.
St. Louis, they just aren’t that in to you.
I am a grown woman. And yes, I shed honest-to-goodness tears over a football team.
You see, I learned the game of football by watching the Los Angeles Rams – first Eric Dickerson, then Jim Everett and yes, then Jerome Bettis. Keep in mind, this was long before the NFL Network existed – when games didn’t sell out, they were BLACKED OUT. I’m not the girl-fan you tease. I’m not the one who spends Super Bowl Sunday in the kitchen around the appetizers, ranking the commercials and waiting for halftime. Don’t get me wrong, I love Missy Elliott too, but FOOTBALL.
I love the game.
As a nine year old, I bonded with my dad on Saturdays during college football (UCLA) and Sundays (the Rams) and learned to understand more than six points for a touchdown and three for a field goal. I love the action, the pace, the talent, the exhilaration of a win, the crushing blow of a loss.
This. This is that crushing blow.
Let’s back up a little. Yes, I keep hearing, ‘the Rams are coming home’. And it makes me a little ill, quite honestly. After more than 20 years, the 150 fans who showed up for the ‘we’re back’ announcement (NOT HYPERBOLIC – in fact – that might be generous), the SIX other professional sports teams already in place and the multiple articles I’ve read, this is hardly the homecoming of the century.
Admittedly, I was too self absorbed to be crushed when the team left in 1995. At the time, I was graduating from college in San Diego and preparing to move out of state.
With fan interest at an all time low, a team that hadn’t been in the playoffs in the first half of the 1990’s and had amassed four 10 loss seasons in a row, Georgia Frontiere moved the team to the Midwest in 1995.
I was however, overjoyed, to find the Rams in my backyard when I settled in St. Louis in the early 2000’s. And even more giddy to be given the opportunity to introduce my small people to my team. The yellow and royal blue had shifted slightly to a more muted blue and gold, but the game was the same.
The Love Affair
In was two years ago that my relationship (and my family’s) with the Rams intensified as we Defended Our Turf as the advertising face of the 2014-2015 season. We donned capes, our fiercest eye black, the blue and gold, and stood our ground for our team. (You can see all the spots here on the newly rebranded ‘Los Angeles Rams’ site – though it is still stlouisrams.com)
Which brings me to last Tuesday night.
The Break Up
My sight line was split. The cute blond running up and down the basketball court was clearly taking the bulk of my attention. At 4ft nothing, with a brand new haircut and a spunky smile, he is hard to miss.
But I kept finding myself drawn to my phone screen. It was like being back in high school, waiting for THAT guy to call. But this time, I was refreshing news sites repeatedly – looking for an update I feared: one that would inevitably tell me exactly what I didn’t want to know:
My St. Louis Rams were heading West.
Again, I will remind you, I am an adult. And still, the bitter disappointment I felt at the news couldn’t keep me from shedding real tears…..not only for me, but for my small people, for the two who have grown to love the game and the team as I have and who will now be left without.
Cooper cried himself to sleep on Tuesday night.
And asked if we could move to Los Angeles.
It is hard to explain to a nine year old, no matter how many times the NFL or Jerry Jones says the Rams are finally ‘coming home’….no matter how many times Missourian Stan Kronke bashes the city and people of St. Louis, this move boils down to one five letter word: M-O-N-E-Y. (Lest you think I am unaware of the Rams record – both on the field and attendance, as a true fan, I do know neither had been strong as of late, but I also know Kronke bought that LA property years ago and I do also know the PEOPLE of St. Louis were willing to build the Rams a new stadium yet neither San Diego nor Oakland offered the same, which, I believe, at least raises the question of negotiating in ‘good faith’.)
The Post Game
For this nine year old and his mom, it has always been about the love of the game, the guys playing it and the people we were lucky enough to meet over the past few years, the time spent in the Dome and on the field. I will always be grateful to the many people who work and support the Rams – who always treated us – my children especially – with the greatest kindness. These the ones who ARE there for the love of football, the people I will miss greatly.
You guys? You still have fans in us.