By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
St. Louis got angry recently when the National Football League announced the St. Louis Rams would move to Los Angeles. I was furious. I decided to institute a lifetime boycott of the NFL.
It lasted four days. It turns out I’m as addicted to pro football as everybody else is, which is probably why the league approved the move.
My lowest moment of disgrace was Jan. 16 when I slunk to the TV to watch the Kansas City Chiefs play the New England Patriots in the playoffs. “There’s nothing wrong with this,” I told myself. “You grew up in Kansas City.” But deep inside I was ashamed.
On Jan. 12 we St. Louis Rams fans were fuming mad at the NFL and its team owners for approving the move to L.A. (city motto: Come join our traffic!). Since then our anger at the league has subsided. But we will forever have a giant beef with Rams owner Stan Kroenke. I don’t even like typing his name, so from now on I’ll refer to him as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, since he reminds me of Harry Potter’s Lord Voldemort.
It’s not just that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named took our team away. It’s that he made it look as if we left him with no other choice.
“You’re just not an NFL city,” he seemed to say. “You’ve supported the team through the past 11 losing seasons and now you’re offering to build me a $1.1 billion stadium. I’m left with no other choice than to find a loophole in the contract and move them.”
We thought NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell might help stop the move. But when He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named seemed to say, “I want to make this move but I can’t get across this stream without getting my Gucci loafers damp,” Goodell seemed to reply, “No problem. I’ll get on my hands and knees in the stream so you can step on my back.”
St. Louis’s last hope was for the other NFL owners to reject He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s proposal. But it turned out they all belong to the same country club. They approved it with a vote of 30-2.
Especially galling were the comments from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. He called the Rams owner not only “a tremendous asset for the NFL” but “God-sent,” which I assume raised God’s eyebrows. Jones added, with a chilling grin, “It’s such a natural to have the Los Angeles Rams be in Los Angeles.”
So I guess St. Louis and the Rams were for 20 years an unnatural match. Like a man who wants to marry his collie. Or picture the Rams as Bruce Jenner and St. Louis as any of his three ex-wives.
Since then I’ve never seen St. Louis so united in a common cause, which is to proclaim He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named a weasel. We all feel insulted by him and it has brought us together as brothers and sisters. As just one example, the city went an entire day without a drive-by shooting at a funeral.
But soon St. Louisans were talking about what NFL team they should support. With the Rams gone we had become shaky and irritable and needed to find another supplier. I quit my boycott and quickly rediscovered my old love for the Chiefs. It was easy because they’d just won a playoff game, which, for a Chiefs fan, is like seeing Halley’s Comet.
Also, I grew up in K.C. and as a child spent many afternoons at the team’s summer training camp there. I got Len Dawson’s autograph, took home a discarded pair of Buck Buchanan’s football pants and shot baskets with Willie Lanier, or at least fetched rebounds for him.
So on Saturday I sat down to watch the Chiefs-Patriots game. Two hours later the Chiefs had lost and my boycott of the NFL was back on. This time I’ll make it stick. After all, Halley’s Comet won’t appear again until July 2061. If I’m still alive, that’s the summer I’ll turn 100.
I picture my wife and me at a nursing home watching the Rams play the Chiefs, who by then will have been renamed the Kansas City Leaders of Not Necessarily Warlike Indigenous Peoples. “Who was that jerk who used to own the Rams?” I’ll say. “Was it Kronkite? Krumlee? No wait, his name was … Voldemort!”