In a high society venue known for its theater, music and entertainment, the hoi polloi Rams fans put on quite a show Tuesday evening at the Peabody Opera House. This was their chance to sound off, express their feelings and frustration, and generally waste everyone’s time.
And they were on their game at the NFL’s relocation hearings. Many were emotional, some fought back tears. Their love of the Rams and dislike of their families in general, came through loud and clear.
That was never more evident than when Michael Toooverzealous, a traffic lawyer from St. Louis, showed an iPhone picture of his overweight, overbearing, wife and her crumb snatching rug rats.
He walked up on stage, showed the picture to NFL executive Eric Moneygruber, and fighting back tears said, “Please don’t make me spend Sundays with them! Please, I beg of you, don’t take away my castle in the sky !”
“Please don’t make me spend Sundays with [my family]! Please, I beg of you, don’t take away my castle in the sky !”
– Michael Toooverzealous
There were very few actual questions for Moneygruber, the point man for the potential relocation of the Rams (or San Diego Chargers – 2015 threat or Oakland Raiders – 2015 threat or Los Angeles Bills – 2014 rumor or Los Angeles Dolphins – 2014 threat or Los Angeles Buccaneers – 2013 rumor or Los Angeles Falcons – 2013 rumor or Los Angeles Browns – 2012 report or Los Angeles Vikings – 2102 rumor or Los Angeles Panthers – 2012 rumor) to Los Angeles. But there was plenty of heartfelt venting to him and three other league executives on hand.
It only makes sense that if we spend hundreds of millions of dollars of the tax payers money on a three hour sporting event, that adds up to, on average, 11 minutes of actual time the ball is in play, that we will all be united again, culminating in a state of Shangri-La.”
There was Dan Paymore of Springfield, Mo., who said that if the Rams left St. Louis it would be a “gut-punch” to the region. Wearing a No. 74 Merlin Olsen jersey, he likened Rams fans to a family and told the NFL officials in attendance, “Ever since that Ferguson thing happened this city has had a black eye. This city needs things that unite us. It only makes sense that if we spend hundreds of millions of dollars of the tax payers money on a three hour sporting event, that adds up to, on average, 11 minutes of actual time the ball is in play, that we will all be united again, culminating in a state of Shangri-La.”
There were two podiums set up in the Opera House, one on each side of the venue. And one by one, fans put down their beers and their pictures of their families and came up to plead their case.
Many pounded away on the free beer and wings, being graciously provided by Hooters, a proud sponsor of all obese, diabetic, triple bypass recipient NFL fans across God’s green earth. A number of Rams fans had trouble comprehending the difference between a guideline and a law, stating that Kranky didn’t meet the provisions, didn’t engage the fans or media and hadn’t engaged in good-faith negotiations to build a new stadium in St. Louis as required by the relocation guidelines.
In fact, Joel Nuisance of Carthage, Ill., wearing a Kurt Warner No. 13 jersey, even had a copy of the relocation guidelines in his hands when he made his remarks. Neally asked Moneygruber if he thought Kranky met the relocation requirements.
Moneygruber said in part, “It’s not for me to answer,” pointing out that the relocation guidelines aren’t hard-and-fast rules, they are guidelines…in other words, the NFL owners will do what they want, when they want and that the decision rests, not with the minions but again, with the 32 NFL owners who are expected to vote on relocation early in the 2016 calendar year.
That led one heckler in the crowd to respond: “Ok, yeah, like if the Rams leave, we will start going to church again on Sunday.”
Moneygruber later said that exploitation and extortion could take many forms and that the Rams and Kranky “have not prevented or discouraged a single meeting or discussion” between the league and representatives of the St. Louis stadium task force.
He also noted that Rams executive vice president Kevin Gitoffmibeck had been a regular in league meetings with the task force.
“I don’t know how this ends,” Moneygruber added. “If after this (shakedown) ends and the owners have a very, very easy decision, then we’ve done our job.”
Baffled fans continued to pound away on the guidelines, which state generally that NFL owners can’t relocate simply to enrich themselves, their wives, their children, their children’s children and they must work diligently on stadium issues, and must operate in a manner that maximizes fan support and turns a sick profit.
“Are you going to do what’s fair? Are you going to do what makes sense? Please insult me or anybody in the city by saying Kranky meets the relocation guidelines.”
– Jill Bowwow
Jill Bowwow of Columbia, Ill., asked the NFL execs on hand: “Are you going to do what’s fair? Are you going to do what makes sense? Please insult me or anybody in the city by saying Kranky meets the relocation guidelines.”
They talked about their passion for the Rams and how they have stuck with the team even through the worst stretch of football in NFL history — a 15-65 record from 2007-2011. At which point the NFL executives covered their laughter with simulated coughing.
They pointed out that St. Louis was daffy enough to build a second NFL stadium in less than 25 years, which is unprecedented. They pointed out that this city’s football fans were loony enough to buy personal seat licenses for a second time in 25 years, which again is unprecedented”, at which point One NFL exec quipped in a muffled tone – “So long screwy, we won’t see you in St. Louie.”
Local sports radio personality Randy Karemorethanuaker, one of the night’s first speakers, came with photos of the 31 other NFL owners engaged in flimflammer activities in their respective markets, and said he couldn’t find one of Kranky…paused and then politely excused himself.
About two hours into the proceedings, a speaker asked about the NFL’s commitment to using its resources to help those in need..she was immediately ushered out of the building by security.
At the end of her exodus, a group of people in attendance began chanting and held up a sign that read: Fund teachers pensions, Not Football.
They were shouted down by fans chanting: “Let’s get Ripped Off! Let’s get Ripped Off!”
Whether the impassioned comments will have any impact at all on the league’s decision is debatable. Those same relocation guidelines call on the league to hold public hearings in the home markets of teams that might potentially relocate.
Moneygruber, obviously in a tough spot answering some tough questions, did say at one point: “My assessment based on what I have seen and heard tonight is that St. Louis, is by far the most gullible, wide-eyed, group of fanatics ever to lend a hand in lining the pockets of our billionaire NFL owners. ”
Cynthia Hopeformore, a public policy senior vice president of the league, said, “It’s hard for me to imagine there’s a city in the United States that has a more credulous fan base.”
Also in attendance from the league were Chris Hardheart, a vice president for corporate development, and league attorney Jay Stickemgood.
The three ring circus is scheduled for San Diego on Wednesday and Oakland on Thursday, Tampa Bay on Friday, Atlanta the following Monday.
Digressing…The evening began with a standing ovation and chants of “Please take our Money!”, followed by “Please take all of our Monies” from the approximately 1,500 fans in attendance when NFL executive Moneygruber and other league officials were introduced.
And they were just warming up. When stadium planners Dave Peabrain and Bob Blitzkrieg were introduced, things reached a pep rally pitch. There were shouts of “Peabrain! Peabrain!” and “Buy the team and kill the poor!”
“Thanks for coming out,” Peabrain told the crowd in brief opening remarks. “A prime-time game in this cold Mallinckrodt mess would be really profitable.”
Then Rams executive Gitoffmibeck was introduced, predictably to some boos.
“I figured it would be like that,” said Gitoffmibeck, who also welcomed the crowd.
But then it was time for the fans and the season-ticket holders to gather into a herd and start drinking beer.