Christmas for St. Louis Rams Fans: 3 Most Wanted Presents for 2012
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The Rams have not had a blackout in two seasons.
Amidst a two-win season in St. Louis, it's remarkable that TV ratings continue to be very strong. Fan forums and chat rooms are active and passionate. And followers are eagerly anticipating an active and productive offseason both on and off the field.
Meanwhile, by comparison, the 8-6 playoff contending Cincinnati Bengals continue to be blacked out week after week (six of seven games this year).
Perennial playoff contender San Diego has been blacked out several times.
Buffalo has suffered multiple blackouts and didn't even come close to being televised this week even with Tim Tebow coming to town. Last week, the Denver and New England game posted the highest national TV ratings of the season and Tebow is a big-ticket item around the league.
Other cities like Cleveland and Tampa Bay have also suffered blackouts. In addition, still others like Miami have avoided blackouts by purchasing their own tickets and/or additional alternative means.
Yet, none of those teams have come remotely close to enduring what Rams fans have dealt with in the last seven seasons. During that time, the Rams have yet to post a single winning record.
However, hope prevails at this time of the year.
Christmas is upon us and Santa is loading up the sleigh. A new year is just around the corner. And the 2012 NFL draft and free agency is but a few short months away.
So, what would be three nice stocking stuffers for St. Louis fans?
I can't answer for everyone, but these three gifts would make throngs of Rams fans ready to grab a pen and pad and send a grateful thank you letter addressed to the North Pole for Santa Claus.
Gift One: No. 1 Pick
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With the No. 1 pick, St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke will have the ability to use that selection to change the fortunes of the franchise.
Most likely, the Rams will use it to acquire multiple premium picks to help stockpile elite talent at multiple positions.
NFL prognosticators have hinted that this year's No. 1 pick could solicit several high draft picks via trade for two reasons.
First, Andrew Luck is expected to be one of the most highly coveted quarterbacks in years.
Secondly, the new collective bargaining agreement gave the NFL a new rookie wage scale.
It is team-friendly rather than the previous player-friendly model. Teams won't have to pay a fortune to top five picks under the new system, making it more appealing (theoretically) to move up.
With the No. 1 pick, St. Louis would be in great shape to parlay that selection into multiple players who St. Louis can build with.
Adding several players who turn out to be productive, high level starters that make a difference in the won-loss column would be a Christmas present that would make St. Louis fans extremely happy.
Gift Two: New Coach and General Manager
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Let's keep it simple: Steve Spagnuolo and Billy Devaney have not gotten it done.
This isn't high school or the church league. Winning, regardless of the obstacles, are what a head coach and general manager are judged by in the NFL.
And, in St. Louis, the wins have been few and far between.
Under Devaney and Spagnuolo, St. Louis is 10-36 and will most likely be 10-38 by the end of the season.
That is unacceptable.
We could list a multitude of excuses for the regime from injuries to inheriting a subpar roster in 2009. However, the fact remains the Rams are not progressing but have in fact regressed this season.
From questionable draft picks, failed free agent moves, bewildering game management, and inexplicable in-season roster moves, the regime is struggling.
Although both men are classy individuals, this is the NFL—and it's time to pull the plug.
It is uncertain who St. Louis will seek if they choose to pursue a new GM and/or head coach, but do expect that the Rams will be looking for replacements for both.
Rams fans would love to unwrap present No. 2 and see the organization secure a proven NFL head coach and a GM who ultimately has more hits than misses via the draft and free agency in the coming years.
Gift Three: Settle Lease Situation and Receive Long-Term Stability in St. Louis
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Nothing would make St. Louis fans happier than gift three.
Whether real or perceived, there has been a cloud hanging over St. Louis for several seasons regarding the upcoming lease situation.
In February, the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission (CVC) must present a preliminary plan to the Rams regarding upgrades to the Edward Jones Dome.
The Rams have until March 1 to accept that offer. If the Rams reject it, they have until May 1 to counteroffer.
If the CVC were to agree to the Rams counteroffer, they would have until June 1 to show in detail how they would pay for those enhancements.
If it were to come to that stage and still the sides could not agree, it would go to arbitration next June. If there were no deal thereafter, the Rams could leave town following the 2014 season.
However, (and I will be writing about this in detail soon), things look promising that the Rams and the CVC will work this out and remain in St. Louis permanently.
From an interview with Randy Karraker this year, Rams Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff stated the following, from RamsFans.com.
"Our viewpoint on a stadium is very simple. We want to get a stadium solution that works for the citizens of this region that makes this city competitive for Final Fours, for political conventions, for bowl games. We want a global solution. Not just what the Rams need, but what is needed to move St. Louis forward as a region and as a city. If we're going to have a 65,000 seat stadium downtown, let's make sure it works for all parties involved. If it works for everybody, it should work for us."
Demoff went to on to say:
"I think there are a lot of ways to look at the top twenty-five percent. There have been eighteen stadiums built since the Edward Jones Dome was built, and there have been four that have had more than a $300 million renovation in that period. Obviously there's been a lot of work done. I don't think it does anybody any good to lay out guidelines for exactly what it is that meets the criteria. I think the criteria need to be what makes St. Louis a better place for our citizens, and a better place for everybody long term. As long as we use that as our guiding principle, how we can work together, how we can build something meaningful for everybody involved, then it shouldn't really matter where it ultimately ranks."
Those words are clear and promising—something that St. Louis fans should be strongly encouraged by.
As for the long-term stadium future, if the Rams even indeed desire a new stadium down the road, (something the organization hasn't even stated they desire), rumblings have surfaced regarding possible sites such as the Bottle District in St. Louis or the old Crysler grounds in Fenton.
Either way, St. Louis fans would (and I fully believe ultimately will) breathe the biggest sigh of relief ever when getting this monkey off their back.
In moving forward, getting this situation resolved will likely boost, among other things:
- ticket sales
- fan morale very significantly
- marketing efforts for the St. Louis Rams in St. Louis and the region
As for Christmas gifts, as great as the others might be, this one would undoubtedly (and I believe certainly will) trump them all.
It would be the best Christmas gift ever for many Rams fans equaling if not surpassing the Super Bowl victory in 2000.
None of these three gifts have been opened yet although I am fully confident that two of the three will be opened next year.
Attaining the No. 1 pick, however, is beyond the control of the Rams.
Regardless, Merry Christmas to each of you and best wishes to you, yours, and the St. Louis Rams in 2012.
May it be both your and the St. Louis Rams best year ever.
Shane Gray is a passionate St. Louis Rams fan and covers the Rams year round. To check out the rest of his work, go here.