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NFL poised to make big bucks off Rams relocation lawsuit

Rams
Thomas Hawk
/
Flickr.com
Rams Helmet

It’s too bad the game of professional football is connected to the people who run it.

While most of the players and coaches in the NFL are decent, respectable men and women, the leadership consists of a collection of middle aged to elderly Ferris Bueller wanna-bes.

You know the types. They’re the guys who float through life with nary a care in the world, just missing punishment from the parents or the principal, though without the charisma and pluck.

Baltimore sports fans with long memories will recall former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue who dismissed the city’s efforts to return to the league after the beloved Colts were snatched from town in the middle of a snowy March night.

Of course, Baltimore did eventually get back in the game by snatching the Browns from Cleveland. It was no way to treat two stalwart cities, but Tagliabue blithely kept it moving. Nothing to see here.

Tagliabue’s successor, Smilin’ Roger Goodell, likewise has lorded over his inherited fiefdom with all the charm of a pig in slop.

Goodell and the 32 team owners run roughshod over whatever they encounter, whether it be players fighting for a principle or a city that has lost a team and wants to return to the league.

To wit, the city of St. Louis, which lost the Cardinals to Arizona just after the Colts bolted for Indianapolis. The Gateway city got into the expansion circus with Baltimore then, only to lose out to Charlotte and Jacksonville.

However, the good folks of Missouri enticed the Rams to relocate from Los Angeles in 1995, a year ahead of the Ravens coming here.

Columbia, Missouri native Stan Kroenke bought a 30 percent share of the team, eventually getting complete control of the franchise.

Kroenke, who married into the Walton family that founded Wal-Mart, became a local savior, pledging in 2010 to do all he could to keep the Rams in St. Louis.

However, six years later, Kroenke got approval from his NFL brethren to move the Rams back to Los Angeles, leaving his hometown without a team.

St. Louis officials quickly filed a lawsuit against the league and Kroenke, claiming the terms of their lease with the Rams had been violated. The suit is scheduled to be heard early next year. While the suit names all 32 teams and the league as defendants, Kroenke is apparently threatening to cut a separate deal with St. Louis, leaving his fellow owners on the hook.

But, lest you feel sorry for Goodell and his fellow robber barons, there’s a suggestion afoot that the NFL may try to make it all go away by offering St. Louis an expansion team.

Of course, to make things even in the league, there would likely need to be a second team, which would mean the NFL would collect a pair of entry fees, distributed among the owners, including Kroenke. The Houston Texans paid $700 million to join the league 22 years ago. An expansion fee today would almost certainly be at least twice that amount, times two.

Ferris Bueller never got caught being naughty. And, in a certain sense, neither apparently will Roger Goodell, Stan Kroenke and the rest of the NFL ownership. Where’s Principal Rooney when you need him?

And that’s how I see it for this week.

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Twitter: @SportsAtLarge

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