NFL Owners Vote With Their Wallets, As Always, In Sending Rams Back to L.A.

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterJanuary 13, 2016

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, left, looks down as St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke talks to the media after team owners voted Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, in Houston to allow the Rams to move to a new stadium just outside Los Angeles, and the San Diego Chargers will have an option to share the facility. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
Pat Sullivan/Associated Press

First, let's not feel too sorry for the city of St. Louis. Yes, it's losing the Rams to Los Angeles, but remember that St. Louis originally pilfered the Rams from L.A.

Stolen once, and now stolen back. A nice cycle of greed—or, in other words: typical NFL ownership. The NFL's Game of Thrones.

You will hear the NFL say it isn't about the money; it's about the fans. Ha. Hahahahahaha. The last time an NFL owner did something for the fans was...um...hold on...it'll come to me...checking my notes...I'll get back to you on that.

No, the Rams' move to Los Angeles is about one thing: cash. The Los Angeles Rams, in the short term, will print the stuff. That team will make so much money the NFL will be able to burn it to warm its cold heart.

That is why this move is being made. It's historic, important news that football is returning to Los Angeles after 21 years away, but the decision wasn't about history or magnanimity. It was about what NFL ownership has always been about. It was about what it will always be about. Owners adding to their billions.

A team moves. Another game of musical teams. Another fanbase is let down. And the owners line their pockets.

"Everybody won," Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said of the deal struck Tuesday. Really? Everybody?

Damn. That's just cold-blooded.

Somebody has to lose. Not me. I'm an NFL owner. I'm gonna win. The rest of you? Good luck, dudes. See ya. Wouldn't wanna be ya.

Pat Sullivan/Associated Press

Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the move in a press conference after the owners met all day Tuesday. He added that the Chargers have the option to join the Rams in Inglewood if they choose to within the next year, and if they decline, the Raiders would then get the same deal. So we could see two fanbases completely and totally out of luck.

If the Chargers and Raiders stay where they are, the league would contribute $100 million to any new stadium, which in reality isn't all that much in the scope of stadium-building.

Make no mistake about what the NFL, Chargers and Raiders are doing. They are still playing hardball, leaving things open purposefully so they can gain some type of leverage over their respective markets.

There are no guarantees either way with the Chargers. I'm told by a source who was in the room that Chargers owner Dean Spanos is not happy with how everything worked out. But giving the Chargers the option to join the Rams gives Spanos leverage with the city of San Diego.

How much leverage remains to be seen.

Kevin Faulconer @Kevin_Faulconer

A statement from @RonRobertsSD & I on the @NFL's @Chargers announcement: https://t.co/0Kb9EB98pZ

If San Diego and the Chargers do work it out, then that leverage shifts to the Raiders.

It was interesting that Raiders owner Mark Davis, who attended the press conference, was noncommittal about what the Raiders would do. "This is not a win for the Raiders," he said, but didn't hint at where the team will go from here.

Pat Sullivan/Associated Press

There were hints that this wasn't a win for the city of Oakland, either, in this report from Bleacher Report's Jason Cole:

Jason Cole @JasonCole62

Was told that #Raiders asked for league to waive relocation fee if the team ultimately moves elsewhere. Unclear if league will do that.

For the Rams, the process is complete. For the Chargers and Raiders, it's not close. It's still potentially very messy. Both could still move. That's a fact.

"Relocation is a painful process," Goodell said. "It's painful for the fans, for communities, for the teams, for the league in general."

But it will not be painful for Stan Kroenke, owner of the Rams. When he met the press, he said one of the benefits of a new stadium would be for "people with lower incomes." Or PLIs. Not to be confused with PSLs.

It would be more honest of Kroenke if he simply said: I want to make more money, and I can do that in L.A. That would actually be far more straightforward.

If Kroenke wanted to help poor people, he could have done that in St. Louis. As he pointed out on his way out the door, St. Louis has some.

It's true that fan support for the Rams waned in St. Louis, and the stadium should be blown up, but the part of this story that Kroenke leaves out is that over the past decade-plus, the Rams served up a terrible product. An absolutely awful product.

The Rams haven't had a winning season since 2003. Since then they've gone 8-8, 6-10, 8-8, 3-13, 2-14, 1-15, 7-9, 2-14, 7-8-1, 7-9, 6-10 and 7-9.

How are fans supposed to embrace so many years of losing like that?

Following the owners' vote, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said in a statement:

The NFL ignored the facts, the loyalty of St. Louis fans, who supported the team through far more downs than ups, and the NFL ignored a strong market and viable plan for a new stadium. I am proud of our effort and what St. Louis was able to accomplish in an extraordinarily short period of time. I thank everyone who worked so diligently on this project, especially the Governor's Task Force.

A core group of fans stayed connected to the team. They may have worn bags over their heads, but they stayed with the Rams through every fumble and stumble and failed season. Then, when it was time for the Rams to reciprocate, the team bolted.

Yes, St. Louis stole the team, so shed no tears. But the anger of that fanbase is still justified.

The Rams left L.A. for a better stadium and more money. The Rams are returning to L.A. for a better stadium and more money. 

This is about greed. And cash. And more greed. And more cash.

Round and round the dollar signs go.

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.