That is no small thing. No NFL team has relocated since 1997. It is a reminder of the harsh reality of being a sports fan, that while you grow a fond attachment to your local teams over the years, the people in suits who own them are just looking for the best business opportunity. Just like they once did 20 years ago when deciding to move the Rams from LA to St. Louis in the first place.
It may take some time before you’re ready to hear this, St. Louis, but you’re better off. The Rams have slid back into mediocrity and weren’t digging out of it any time soon. You got the Greatest Show on Turf glory years and a Super Bowl title out of the deal. You get to avoid giving owner Stan Kroenke another dime of public money. You get 16 Sundays of your life back every year to do something more meaningful with your time. You don’t have to think about this guy anymore:
In 1993, I was just a lad living in Minnesota when our hockey team, the beloved North Stars, were moved to Dallas — of all places — by an owner we all hated whose name I’m obligated by state law not to mention. It was the same story then — he wanted public money for an arena, and the people weren’t willing to give it to him. When the North Stars actually left, it felt like the end of the world. How do you have Minnesota without hockey? Maybe the state should just fold and cede all its land to the neighboring Dakotas. We had lost our identity and our dignity.
As it turns out, we had only had professional hockey in Minnesota for 26 years. My parents are young enough to remember the pre-hockey days, and guess what? It wasn’t a lawless wasteland. People lived and worked and enjoyed their freedoms. Losing the team wasn’t the equivalent, after all, of losing Constitutional rights.
In response, we did what any normal Americans would do. The kids played more hockey. The adults lived vicariously through their kids playing hockey. We built an obscenely large indoor mall to occupy our time in the winter. I made it through the cutthroat suburban public-school system. We got along fine. And then, what do you know, the NHL came back seven years later.
You could also argue that the pain of that loss is the very thing that has secured the futures for the rest of Minnesota’s sports teams. The Twins and Vikings, both of whom teased us with skipping town too, have received their shiny new sporting cathedrals, probably saving us from building more malls.
You will be OK. You still have the Cardinals — winners of such a great amount of World Series titles that all but one other MLB franchise is jealous. You still have the Blues, which is good too. They’re feisty these days. You have great food. Great music. That big arch is a top-five US monument. Washington University is, I hear, a really great school. And who knows? Maybe the NFL will come back someday, better and stronger than ever.
So buck up, St. Louis. You live there and love it for a reason, and trust me, a very small part of the reason why is the Rams.