The St. Louis Rams are an interesting franchise. After moving from Los Angeles in 1995, the Rams have been up and mostly down for most of their tenure in the “Gateway City." It’s time to evaluate the franchise and the reasons for its consistent mediocrity.
Few remember now that the reason St. Louis welcomed the Rams was because the city lost out on an expansion franchise in 1993. That proposed team was to be the St. Louis Stallions, an afterthought now to be sure.
There are more reasons the Rams have been bad other than bad quarterback play, poor drafting and bad coaching. They are less obvious but maybe more important.
Firstly, the Edward Jones Dome is the home of the St. Louis Rams. It’s one of the least-enjoyable places to watch a football game, pro or college, in America. It lacks a “football” atmosphere for sure. While the multi-purpose dome makes money off other events throughout the year, an outdoor stadium would be a much better football alternative for St. Louis. Football is meant to outdoors. Green Bay has its team play outside and Wisconsin has far worse weather than St. Louis.
The dome (especially when not full) lacks energy. It lacks emotion.
Secondly, the Rams fans deserve some of the blame for the team having the worst “home-field advantage” in the NFL. This isn’t the days of Marshall Faulk, Kurt Warner and Issac Bruce for sure. This isn’t the “greatest show on turf." Like it or not though, St. Louis football fans are inconsistent.
St. Louis is a baseball town. Win or lose (and usually it’s winning more often than not), the St. Louis Cardinals enjoy tremendous fan support. Busch Stadium is flooded night after night by fans to support the Cards.
One might argue that fans in St. Louis turn out to support the team because it wins. I disagree. I think the Cardinals benefit competitively because of their tremendous fan support. Also factor in that St. Louis has already lost one professional football team: the St. Louis Cardinals in 1987. Baseball is king in St. Louis and football is an afterthought unless it’s winning and winning big.
No, the reality is St. Louis is somewhat “fair weather” in its football support. I can’t blame them too much. The current football product is less than stellar. That’s probably putting it mildly.
The Rams have been bad since their move from L.A. except for a six-year run from 1999-2004. During that stretch the Rams qualified for the playoffs five of six years and made two Super Bowl appearances with one title. However, if you combine the Rams’ record from 1995-1998 and their record since their last playoff appearance in 2004 until now, the team is 51-120. That’s obviously really, really bad.
But go back to the “chicken or the egg” argument. Why are the Cardinals good? They are good in part, or mostly, because of their fan support. Why are the Pittsburgh Steelers consistently good? They are good in part, or mostly, because of their fan support. Both of those teams have a beautiful, outdoor venue for their fans to enjoy the game in.
If the Rams end up leaving St. Louis, those who created the dome as a football home and the many fans of the Rams who turn out only when the team is amongst the NFL’s elite will be to blame. Let's hope it doesn't come to that and the team can begin to turn around its misfortunes.