Neymar to PSG: The Transfer of a Generation

I was far too young to remember Cristiano Ronaldo’s transfer from Manchester United to Real Madrid.

In the summer of 2009, I was an 11 year old boy focused on my hometown St. Louis Cardinals and the first sports team I ever loved, the St. Louis Rams. International football couldn’t have been further out of my mind and I don’t think I even knew Ronaldo’s name. 

Cristiano’s world record transfer shattered a world I didn’t yet know existed.

For 94 million euros, the world’s best player was moving on from the club and manager that had nurtured him into a worldwide superstar in order to take on the world at Real Madrid. While that fee now seems somewhat tame compared to what we’ve seen recently, his 1 billion euro buy-out clause remains mind blowing.

More than 80,000 fans packed Real’s Santiago Bernebeu in order to greet the next heir to the Madrid throne. The football world stopped for one day in order to try and wrap its collective mind around the biggest transfer spectacle ever seen.

Nearly 10 years later, the football world has been shaken again, in a way that even the groundbreaking transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo could not do. With the announcement made official today, FC Barcelona’s Brazilian starlet, Neymar Jr, is transferring away to join Paris Saint Germain.

Earth shattering does not even begin to do this justice.

At 25 years old and already easily one of the very best players in the world, Neymar still conceivably has yet to truly enter his prime. His best years of football could still be ahead of him and he will now truly have his own stage on which to display his otherworldly talents.

For the past 4 years, Neymar has played on a Barcelona team that belonged to Lionel Messi. As brilliant as Neymar could be at times, he was living and playing in Messi’s shadow, and as much as we all wanted to anoint him as Messi’s heir, he was always going to be second fiddle.

However, playing at a club as big as Barcelona, there never was much speculation about Neymar potentially moving away. In Ronaldo’s case, he always seemed destined to move away from Manchester and the Real Madrid rumors followed him all throughout his final 2 years at United.

Up until about 3 weeks ago, Neymar was a Barcelona player, the sky was blue, and we all had bigger things to focus on. The timing and swift nature of this whole saga plays a huge role in the reason why this is not just the most expensive transfer of all time but also the most significant.

On July 17th, things started as a rumor that PSG could and would trigger Neymar’s outlandish 222 million euro release clause. That got us talking, but it didn’t seem to be anything serious. Then, that rumor quickly snowballed into more rumors about training bust ups involving Neymar, his desire to leave, PSG’s continued seriousness about triggering the clause, and suddenly this wasn’t just a rumor.

Over the course of nearly 3 weeks, the world’s 3rd best player moved away from the world’s second biggest club in the world’s biggest league to play for a 2nd place team in the smallest of Europe’s big 5 leagues.

Setting aside the fact that this will absolutely shatter Paul Pogba’s previous transfer fee record, the significance of Neymar’s move to Paris is generation defining.

The greatest attack of our generation – Messi, Suarez, Neymar – is no more. The heir to Lionel Messi’s Barcelona throne has moved his talents to Paris. PSG have just purchased easily the biggest and best player in their club’s history. And, in the most expensive and significant transfer of all time, the player has chosen to move from FC Barcelona, one of the most historic and prestigious clubs in the world, to a second place Ligue 1 team.

That last part, the fact that Neymar chose PSG over Barcelona asserts a fact that we can’t ignore anymore. Much like what we’re seeing in the NBA, international football is run by the players now.

As Kyrie Irving’s whining and complaining has shown, executives in the NBA aren’t truly in charge anymore. The players get what they want, and the transcendent talents of the game – LeBron, Kyrie, Steph, Durant, many others – are able to extort executives and manipulate situations however they please.

Neymar, one of the transcendent players in today’s football landscape, manipulated this situation how he wanted. Barcelona’s Brazilian wanted a move away from the Camp Nou and was determined to make that happen. To drive that point home, Neymar and his representatives informed Barcelona executives this morning that they would be paying the release clause after PSG’s bid was blocked by La Liga.

Neymar made up his mind on Paris, and nothing was going to stop him. Setting aside the money, what kind of precedent does this set for a generation of footballers to come?

With Roma legend Francesco Totti now retired, the era of players spending a long, loyal career with one club is over and Neymar’s transfer is the final nail in a coffin that was carefully and efficiently built this summer.

After a poor 2016-17 season, Arsenal have missed out on Champions League football for the first time in over 20 years. Gunners’ superstar Alexis Sanchez has publicly made it clear that he isn’t interested in playing on a team without Champions League football. Although they publicly insist Sanchez isn’t going anywhere, Arsenal’s hands are tied and Alexis is in control of the situation.

Juventus legend Leonardo Bonucci, at 30 years old and having spent the last 8 years with the Italian kings, shockingly and suddenly moved to AC Milan this summer. Having seemingly spurned transfer attempt after transfer attempt over the course of the past year or so in favor of staying at Juve, Bonucci apparently decided that he’d had enough and forced a move away.

As much as prominent managers like Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, or Arsene Wenger like to paint the picture that they are in charge and call the shots, Neymar’s transfer proves that the business of football is truly a players’ game now.

When we look back on the state of football 5 or 10 years from now, this day will be the first that we study. A precedent has been set by one of the world’s best players, and you can expect dozens to follow in his footsteps and make their demands known. Players like Eden Hazard, Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele are already beginning to clamor for a move to Barcelona because they see an opening.

What happens in the near future will shape our generation of football as we know it, Neymar has made sure of it.

Thanks for reading.

-Ryan

Neymar to PSG: The Transfer of a Generation

Los Angeles Chargers and the NFL’s Continued Self-Destruction

When the world finally invents time traveling, yesterday – January 11, 2017 – will be the day that NFL people travel back to and try to alter. Yesterday was the day that the San Diego Chargers announced their intended move to Los Angeles, and the NFL continued to implode on itself.

There will now be two teams in Los Angeles, including one that just feels wrong, to put it nicely. The Chargers flat out do not belong in Los Angeles. No one from the area wants them there and no one from the area will support them. Period.

The NFL will have to wait no later than week one to find that out, because in week 1 the Chargers face the Oakland Raiders and when the 27,000 seat StubHub Center is painted in 90% black and silver, the NFL and the Chargers will realize just how badly they’ve messed up.

Ever since the Rams and Raiders moved from Los Angeles in 1995, the NFL has desperately been looking to move a team back to LA. It’s why commissioner Roger Goodell ignored every rule in the rulebook to allow Rams owner Stan Kroenke to snatch his team out of St. Louis and move straight into the presumed open arms of Los Angeles.

Except LA’s arms weren’t open for a losing team.

The Rams suck and they’ve sucked for a long time now. But, being buried in the small midwest market of St. Louis, the NFL and everyone else has been able to mostly ignore how badly the Rams have sucked. But after a 4-12 season, they can’t anymore.

In their grand return to Los Angeles, the Rams finished 4-12 and somehow managed to be even worse off the field than they were on it. There was drama between now fired head coach Jeff Fisher and team legend Eric Dickerson. Unnamed team personnel were taking shots at each other anonymously in a Sports Illustrated article. The same Sports Illustrated article detailed an anonymous head coach calling the Rams a “Junior High football team.” Star running back Todd Gurley openly complained that the team was running a “pop warner offense.”

The list goes on and on and on without even mentioning that General Manager Les Snead traded away a bounty of draft picks to trade up to #1 in the 2016 draft and select the presumed franchise quarterback Jared Goff, which has turned into an absolute dumpster fire of a situation.

After a 4-12 disaster of a season, the NFL can no longer ignore the facts of the Los Angeles situation. LA has a market for the Rams, but that market will not accept losing and will not accept another team.

The attendance for the Rams’ home games at the Coliseum noticeably diminished all the way to the point that the stadium looked pathetically empty in a 42-7 blowout at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons. As far as television goes, the Rams averaged a 9.4 rating. While in St. Louis, a much smaller market, the lowest rating the Rams ever got in their 21 years of playing there was a 10.4, and that came during the 2013 season when a St. Louis Cardinals’ World Series game was being played simultaneously.

Like I said, while the Rams were in St. Louis, the NFL was able to mostly ignore how bad the team was and bury them underneath all of the other teams in bigger markets. In St. Louis, sports are our thing, so on a Sunday afternoon we really had nothing better to do than watch our football team lose week after week after week after year after year after year.

Los Angeles is not St. Louis and they will not tolerate losing football.

LA is a sports market that already includes two baseball teams, two hockey teams, two college football teams that are more popular than the Rams or Chargers will ever be, and two basketball teams. The sports market was stacked and set in LA before the NFL even came knocking on the door a second time around.

However, the move of the Rams from St. Louis to Los Angeles at least made some sense. The Rams were born and raised in LA, spending nearly 46 years there before being uprooted and sent to St. Louis. There was a holdover Rams fan base in LA, and it was extremely plausible that the Rams could succeed there. Putting their disastrous first season aside, the Rams’ move to Los Angeles at least made a lot of sense.

But, the Chargers? Yikes.

I have long been saying that the NFL’s insatiable appetite for money will be their ultimate downfall, and it’s starting to manifest itself in an ugly way that is making my prediction look startlingly true. It wasn’t enough to just move one team into the untapped Los Angeles market to try and take as much LA money as possible and put it into NFL owners’ pockets; no, the NFL had to take a second team and move them there too.

In an article written by Albert Breer this morning for Sports Illustrated, he points out that the NFL didn’t want the Chargers to move to Los Angeles and, “some owners feel bad about taking the team out of its home in San Diego.”

As much as I love Albert Breer, he seems to have been blinded by the NFL machine.

You really think the NFL doesn’t want a second team in Los Angeles? That they actually wanted to keep the Chargers in San Diego? If the NFL actually wants something, they make it happen. That showed last January when the Rams were moved to Los Angeles, and it’s the kind of power that the NFL just inherently has in our society.

The NFL can do what they want, when they want, so to paint them as some sort of victim of circumstance and say that they didn’t want to move the Chargers to Los Angeles is just a giant load of crap. The NFL wants to suck as much money out of LA as possible, and Dean Spanos is leading the charge after getting spurned by NFL owners in a vote last January that gave Stan Kroenke rights to the coveted Inglewood plot of land to build his $2.6 billion palace of a football stadium.

Spanos got rejected last January and is now rejecting the city of San Diego. When the NFL ultimately succumbs to financial ruin and is rejected from our society, we’ll look back on this day as the beginning of its long and slow descent into oblivion.

We have long been able to simply enjoy the game of football without any of the behind-the-scenes greed that the NFL has always been run with. But now that greed is being pushed to the forefront of the picture, and fans are no longer able to simply ignore it.

Attendance numbers were down across the league this year. Television ratings were down so far that the NFL panicked and began giving away games for free, live streaming Thursday night games on Twitter in an effort to “understand and cater to the modern NFL fan.”

The NFL is beginning to fade, they have nobody to blame but themselves, and allowing a vengeful Dean Spanos to move his Chargers from San Diego to Los Angeles is simply a microcosm of the problems that are so deeply rooted in the NFL’s culture it will be impossible to fix them.

In an extremely compelling and honest article, Jack Dickey of Sports Illustrated writes that, “An observer from outside the sports world could reasonably conclude that the NFL is actually a trade group for land barons, and that the game of football is just used as a front to disguise that.”

Dickey carries on, “Most owners seem to aspire to little more than keeping up with the Joneses – Jerry and Stephen, in this case. Each new stadium and each renovation pushes existing stadiums toward supposed obsolescence, hence the recent remodeling efforts at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Arrowhead Stadium, Bank of America Stadium, and at New Era Field. Lambeau Field has been renovated twice since 2000.”

The article is finished when Dickey writes, “Recall, also, that the supposed decrepitude of the Edward Jones Dome—it had fallen out of the “first-tier” of NFL stadiums—allowed the Rams to break their lease in 2015. What’s better than a new building when fans are footing the bill? A rising tide lifts all boats; construction seems to spur only more construction.”

Owners don’t care about winning football or the fans that love their game or anything of that sort. Owners care about how much their “business” – in this case, their team – is worth and whether or not they look better and richer than the guy next to them.

It’s the reason why the Rams refused to give the city of St. Louis even a remote shot at keeping the Rams, because Stan Kroenke didn’t look good or rich by owning a team in St. Louis with a stadium that looked pathetic next to the stadium the Dallas Cowboys play in. So he needed to move to Los Angeles and build a palace.

And now it’s the reason why Dean Spanos refuses to stay in San Diego. Spanos is willingly forking over nearly $650 million in a relocation fee just so he can move to Los Angeles and share Kroenke’s palace with the Rams when it opens in 2019.

Spanos wanted a new stadium built in San Diego, but he wanted the San Diego taxpayers to foot the majority of the bill instead of himself and his family – which is worth $2.1 billion, might I add. The NFL gave Spanos an unprecedented $300 million grant in an effort to help him build a new stadium in San Diego, but he refused to pay his share, and is opting to move the team to LA instead.

Spanos had a choice, he could either have used his $650 million to build a new stadium in San Diego and keep the team there, or he could use it to make a glamorous and bold move to Los Angeles and share the Inglewood stadium. We all know what his choice was, and it is a brutally bad one.

The Chargers’ move is doomed to fail before it even gets going.

The Chargers have been in San Diego for 56 years and have an extremely loyal fanbase that sell out Qualcomm Stadium every single Sunday to watch a team that has won 4 playoff games in 22 years and has only made 1 Super Bowl ever, which it got blown out in. By ditching those fans for Los Angeles, Spanos is essentially alienating one of the NFL’s most loyal fan bases while still counting on them to support his team in Los Angeles.

The Chargers have no fan base in Los Angeles. As LA Times columnist Bill Plaschke pointed out, “the Chargers aren’t even the second team in town behind the Rams. The Chargers aren’t even the third team of interest here behind the Rams and Raiders. The Chargers might not even be in the top-five favorite NFL teams in Los Angeles.”

Like I said, when the Chargers play the Raiders in week one of the 2017-18 NFL season, and the 27,000 seat StubHub Center where they will call ‘home’ is sold out in 90% black and silver, the NFL and Dean Spanos will realize just how badly they’ve messed up.

And there’s no looking back. Once the Chargers begin to fail in Los Angeles, there is no way the city of San Diego will welcome them back. As a citizen of a city that had an NFL team ripped away, the city that the NFL leaves behind has no interest in wanting a team back. The NFL is dead to us, and it’s now dead to San Diego.

Without even getting into the nitty gritty of the financial aspect of this move, I can already guarantee that it will fail just from the simple fact that the Chargers have no fan base in LA and alienated one of the most loyal fan bases in a city that smartly wouldn’t fork over hundreds of millions of dollars for a stadium that would simply benefit a room full of billionaires.

Dean Spanos and the NFL got greedy and impatient, but what’s new?

The NFL has long survived on their greedy business model because they’ve been able to bury it under heaps of football that the masses eagerly gobble up. The NFL’s greed is coming to the forefront, and it will be the result of their ultimate demise.

Yesterday was simply a continuation of the NFL’s ruin, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love every second of it.

Los Angeles Chargers and the NFL’s Continued Self-Destruction

One Final Ode to the St. Louis Rams

Please forgive me, for my emotions are still rather raw following the brutally anticlimactic end of one of the most painful and heartbreaking sagas I have ever experienced. The Rams are gone. It is done, and it is not changing.

My emotions, besides being raw, are mixed. I’m enraged, spiteful and disgusted with the NFL and the whole process of how this all happened. But at the same time, I’m just sad and disappointed. My mom always told me that life wouldn’t always be fair, and this was a cruel reminder of that fact.

We never really had a chance. From the very beginning, this team was destined for doom. The NFL and the Rams lied and squirmed and connived their way back “home” to Los Angeles. The NFL heartlessly lied to St. Louis, promising them a fair chance in keeping their team, when in reality the game was rigged and St. Louis had as much chance of keeping the Rams as you do of winning the Powerball without even buying a ticket.

It was disgraceful and offensive, and the NFL will reap what they sow. Their motives will never equate to true success, and evil always comes back around. Believe that.

As I’ve thought about it over the course of the past 24 hours, I’ve gotten much calmer. I say good riddance to Stan Kroenke and the NFL, two of the most purely corrupt and evil entities in this world. The NFL is an absolute mess, and as I said earlier, they will be ruined in due time as they will reap what they sow and discover that their cartel-esque motives will not be rewarded long term.

This city has had a tough past 18 months; from Ferguson to flooding, the Rams leaving just feels like being kicked while we’re down.

But one thing that no greedy, corrupt organization can ever take away from our city is our guts and our resilience. We are a blue collar town full of people that earn every cent and earn every ounce of respect they gain. We’ve been pushed down before, and we’ll just keep getting up and pushing forward. We are proud and we are strong, nothing can take that.

I said to forgive my emotions earlier, so if you’re reading this cynically please forgive that last, rather cheesy paragraph. I am a proud St. Louisan, born and raised, and unlike Stan, I won’t abandon this city when times get hard.

But as much as I say “good riddance” to the NFL and Kroenke, I will absolutely miss the Rams; more than I’ll ever let on.

The first memory I have of any professional sporting event ever is from the 2004 NFL playoffs. The Rams were playing in Seattle, and the game had gone to overtime. I didn’t know much else, but I knew that the first score won the game, and I knew that the Rams were my hometown team and I wanted them to win even though this was my first exposure to them.

Sure enough, Rams’ QB Marc Bulger lofted a perfect, 51 yard touchdown pass to Shaun McDonald to win the game for the Rams. I went absolutely nuts and was immediately in love. The Rams had my heart.

Turns out, the first Rams’ playoff game that I watched would be my last.

The Rams would never even have another winning season, but that never mattered to me. I supported them through thick and thin, and almost never missed watching a game. I found reasons to root for them and reasons to hope, and when their diabolical owner Stan Kroenke gave us his word, in 2010, that he would never take the Rams from us I believed it with every fiber of my being.

Nowadays, the Rams have naturally been superseded by my love of the St. Louis Cardinals, Blues, and probably even Manchester City FC someday soon, but even still, the thought of not having football in St. Louis is completely foreign to me.

I grew up with the Rams, I fell in love with them, and I always hoped that all of my fandom would someday be rewarded in some fashion. Instead I feel like an idiot for supporting a perennial loser that’s now been ripped out from under my faultless feet like a carpet. I – and all of the other loyal St. Louis Rams fans – are now left sitting hopelessly on our butts watching the dirty carpet we stood on for 21 years be carried away from us without a second thought, and our tailbones are probably bruised from such a nasty fall, not to mention Roger Goodell and Jerry Jones showing up unannounced to give us a few extra kicks to the ribs.

I’ve been asked this multiple times since the news of a Rams relocation was made public, but will I still root for the Rams in Los Angeles? I wish I could say no, but I absolutely still will. The team has my heart, and probably always will in some fashion, and I can’t just snap my fingers and suddenly be completely detached from them emotionally; sports are a part of me and I just can’t let go of the first sports team I ever loved quite so easily.

For the city of St. Louis, this is the right thing. It hurts really badly right now and will leave an eternal scar on our city’s figure, but soon enough we will see and reap the blessings of this. So, instead of looking back I’m going to take a second to look forward.

For the time being, we’re down to two professional teams; the Blues and the Cardinals. Both teams are highly successful, both between the lines and in the community, and both teams have a genuine affection for the city they represent. And, best of all, between Tom Stillman and the DeWitts, we have two of the most loyal and sincerely tremendous ownership groups in all of professional sports.

Having both met, shaken hands with and conversed with Blues’ owner Tom Stillman, I can verify everything said in the above paragraph. We are in good hands.

As for the void left by the NFL, I have no doubts that it will be filled in very short order. The wheels are already beginning to spin on an MLS project, and that process could go very quickly and be here sooner than you might think. St. Louis is a voracious soccer market – as proven by the attendance numbers for both USMNT and USWNT friendlies in combination with St. Louis’ ratings numbers for World Cup games being among the highest in the country – and the MLS would be wise to bring a team here now.

Dave Peacock has expressed his interest in heading up a committee to make things happen, the city has proven that it can put the necessary money on the table to provide a stadium, and I can guarantee that any professional soccer team would be ravenously supported by the best pound-for-pound sports market in the world.

The Rams are gone, and it is very sad. But as we all learned when we were kids, you get back up after you’ve been knocked down; and get back up we certainly will.

I’m damn proud to live in this city and stand beside it during these recent tough times – as I mentioned earlier, beyond just our football team leaving.

The NFL – and Stan Kroenke – will get their punishment in due time. As I said earlier, they will reap what they sow; the corrupt never truly win. And as Batman states in the Dark Knight Rises when asked, “why do we fall?”

“Because we must rise.”

-Thanks for reading…

-Ryan

One Final Ode to the St. Louis Rams

Ryan’s Rants: Stan Kroenke, Worst Owner in Professional Sports (part 2)

            On the previous episode of, ‘Stan Kroenke Sucks’, we took a look at some of the poor reasoning behind Kroenke’s relentless desire to move the (for now) St. Louis Rams to Los Angeles. On today’s episode of, ‘Stan Kroenke Sucks’, we will continue to look at his poor reasoning and continue to be angry and sad and bullied.

At the very base of Kroenke’s argument is his claim that St. Louis cannot support 3 professional franchises, and that “Any NFL Club that signs on to this proposal in St. Louis will be well on the road to financial ruin, and the League will be harmed.”

He also had the nerve to declare that “The current Rams ownership’s investment in the on-the-field Rams team has been significant.” This “significant” investment has resulted in a 52% increase in wins over the 5 years prior to Kroenke obtaining majority ownership. “But despite these investments and engagements, Rams attendance since 2010 has been well below league average.”

The 5 years before Kroenke took over the Rams’ majority ownership, the club won a combined 20 games. In the 5 years since, the Rams have won 29 games. Besides the fact that this is a 45% increase and Stan clearly dropped out of math class, 29 wins is still bad, but it’s not quite as bad as 20 wins.

“I can’t believe that these damn St. Louis people won’t come watch my losing team; the prior losing teams lost way more often. What a terrible market!”

Somehow, this sentiment goes widely misunderstood. I don’t get what’s so hard to understand about it; if the team is historically and consistently awful, people naturally aren’t going to come out in droves to dish out their hard earned money. Have the Rams had bad attendance over the past few years? Yeah, there’s no defending that. But what I will defend is the fact that St. Louis will voraciously support a successful football team with loyal ownership.

As soon as 2007 – a 3-13 season that began a historically awful 15-65 five year stretch – the average attendance at Rams’ home games was 65,326, or 100.3% of the total capacity. Naturally, attendance has declined since then and in 2015 bottomed out at 52,402 (80.2% total capacity). But as I mentioned earlier, nobody wants to spend their hard earned money to go watch a consistently awful team with a horrible owner in a below average stadium. What’s so hard to understand about that?

Also, the statement that any NFL team that is based in St. Louis will be “well on the way to financial ruin” is way off, and I have math to support that.

On page 23 of the Rams relocation application, Kroenke cites the TPI (total personal income) that a market would need to support a sports team, based on team revenue and ticket prices. The TPI base needed to support an MLB franchise is at least $104 billion, while an NHL franchise checks in at $50 billion, NFL at $48 billion, NBA at $45 billion and MLS at $14 billion.

The report states, “St. Louis, with TPI of $132 billion annually, doesn’t have enough personal income to support the teams it already has. To support the Blues, Cardinals and Rams, more than $200 billion is needed, the report found, meaning St. Louis had a TPI deficit of $70 billion annually.”

As Forbes pointed out, both Pittsburgh (for comparison) and St. Louis have total personal incomes (population x median personal income) of $15.1 billion. Tack on the metro areas around both cities and St. Louis comes in with a TPI of $133 billion versus Pittsburgh’s $118 billion; and St. Louis has more Fortune 500 companies than Pittsburgh at nine and six respectively.

Pittsburgh has 4 professional sports franchises, so according to the math here, Pittsburgh’s deficit would be about $129 billion. Yet they’re doing just fine out there. Your thoughts, Stan?

Oh wait; he doesn’t know how to talk. Moving on.

So I bet you’re probably wondering where Silent Stanley gets all of his hard hitting information. You’d expect some hard hitting sources, right? Well…no.

Kroenke argues that the Edward Jones Dome is the worst venue in the NFL. He cites a Sports Illustrated readers’ poll from 2008 (!) and an ESPN NFL Nation report. Obviously, these reports claim that the dome is the worst stadium in the NFL. And if these remarkably credible sources weren’t enough, he cites a Time Magazine ranking from 2012 that says the Dome is the 7th worst stadium in the nation. Number 8 on that list? Fenway Park.

I get it, the Dome is certainly not ideal and it’s not state of the art, but it’s not a dump. Last time I checked there wasn’t raw sewage flowing into the bathrooms and plastic cups taped to the ceiling to stop leaks, (re: Oakland County Coliseum).

And as I briefly cited in the last episode of ‘Stan Kroenke Sucks’, it’s not like the city of St. Louis hasn’t done its part in trying to upgrade the NFL stadium here. When construction began on the Dome in 1992, it was 100% funded by public money. The final construction cost was $280 million, which translates to $435 million in present day value. An additional $78 million was required to buy out the Rams lease in Anaheim and build an additional practice facility and headquarters in Earth City, Missouri.

In the new riverfront stadium proposal, the city has put $560 million on the table. $400 million in direct stadium construction money and $160 million in seat license revenue. So over the span of 23 years, the city of St. Louis has committed $918 million to two stadium projects. And what has that nearly $1 billion investment netted? A grand NFL tradition of 4 winning seasons in 21 years. Oh but how could St. Louis possibly ever support an NFL team?

And also, what in the world have Oakland and San Diego done to defend their proud NFL franchises?

San Diego: Nothing except for a sort of promise that they’ll have a plan by summer of 2016, which might fly if the deadline to submit a stadium plan wasn’t December 30th, 2015.

Oakland: Nothing. They’ve given the NFL the ‘come back to us’ signal.

Boy it must be really tough for all of those ethical NFL owners to tell which city has done the most to try and retain their NFL franchise.

And just because I’m not done bashing Kroenke, here’s one final note. Kroenke pats himself on the back in pointing out that the Rams won the Philanthropic Organization of the Year in 2010. The Rams players and staff have logged over 12,000 hours of community service in the greater St. Louis area and have made a real, lasting impact that has affected countless lives in a positive manner. But has anyone ever seen a picture, let alone even heard a story about Kroenke spending even a second working in the St. Louis community. It’s despicable to claim this award as part of his credibility is disgusting, deplorable, and only goes to further the notion that he’s a greedy Grinch who cares about literally nothing other than money.

Thus, on that note, we conclude today’s episode of ‘Stan Kroenke Sucks’. Stay tuned for Wednesday’s real life episode, where we potentially discover the real fate of the Rams. In case you can’t tell, I hope they can somehow stay in St. Louis while Kroenke can go to Los Angeles by himself.

Thanks for reading…

-Ryan

 

 

Ryan’s Rants: Stan Kroenke, Worst Owner in Professional Sports (part 2)

Ryan’s Rants: Stan Kroenke, Worst Owner in Professional Sports (Part 1)

Folks today is a good day. The official baseball HOF revealing is this afternoon and it is a time to celebrate the greatness of those selected. Unfortunately, today is also the day after Rams owner Stan Kroenke submitted his official relocation application the NFL. I have read all 29 disgusting pages, and I’m angry. So here we go with the latest installments of Ryan’s Rants.

I’m really not quite sure where to even start on this. I have such strong feelings about Kroenke that if I truly let loose on him it would be quite vulgar and not professional in the slightest, so I’ll try not to tear into him more than I really need to. That being said, good lord do I hate Enos Satan Kroenke, (pronounced ‘cranky’ if you’re Jim Nantz).

Kroenke 2
“I’m wearing a scarf in public, look how rich I am”

Whenever I see Browns fans complaining about how bad an owner Jimmy Haslam is, I shake my head and say to myself, “man, I wish we had an NFL owner that good.” Haslam’s biggest fault is that he wants to win a title for Cleveland so badly that he has almost zero patience with coaches and administrations and blows things up too often. Yeah it’s frustrating, but at least he cares.

And boy do I wish St. Louis had an NFL owner that even gave half of a rat’s ass about his team. ‘Silent Stanley’ has not once even remotely hinted at any sort of care about how the Rams do. He almost never shows up at games, he’s nowhere to be found for press conferences and he speaks publicly on the team maybe 5 times a year if he’s feeling generous.

So what’s he off doing?

Well, in case you didn’t know, Kroenke owns 4 other major professional sports franchises – the British Premier League Arsenal Gunners, the NBA Denver Nuggets, the NHL Colorado Avalanche, and the MLS Colorado Rapids. Now, besides this just being a recipe for disaster, the last time I checked the NFL had a rule that stated that no NFL owner can own a separate professional franchise. Somehow, Stanley is getting away with it.

And even though I don’t have personal insight on those other teams, I can almost guarantee you that he cares no more about them than he does about the Rams. Stan doesn’t care about the loyal fans that provide his franchises with the monetary support that eventually ends up in his pockets and he doesn’t care about the organizations under which his teams are run. No, Stan Kroenke only cares about one godforsaken thing.

Money

Kroenke 1
“I don’t know what to do with my hands. Yay Rams”

Now, I’ve criticized the NFL in the past for only caring about money, but to their credit the NFL does actually try to take care of its loyal fans because they understand that without fans there is no NFL. They have their obvious flaws, but the basis of that is somewhat admirable. You take care of the people that support you. Pretty simple concept, right?

Not for Stan apparently.

Between him and his wife – who freaking owns Wal-Mart, might I add – Stan Kroenke has $10 billion. Now, this could just be my middle class quibbling, but what in the hell could you possibly do with $10 billion? I’d run out of ideas after like $2 million. No one can possibly need every penny of $10 billion, that’s just a simple fact of living.

This is why the fact that Kroenke wants to move his NFL team to Los Angeles to make more money just hurts my head to think about. He’s 68 years old, he is worth $5 billion, he owns 5 professional sports franchises, and he wants more money. WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU GONNA DO WITH MORE MONEY?

Is he saving up for something? Does he need a new Nissan? Does he need to save up to buy razors so he can trim the Hitler-esque mustache that rests above his lips? What could Stan Kroenke possibly need more money for?

Just based off that statement, one might fathom that Kroenke could care about the fans in LA and want to return their Rams to them. But then one would have to go back and realize that Kroenke was one of the main driving forces behind the team originally coming to St. Louis. And, as I mentioned earlier, he does not remotely care about any fan base, which pertains to Los Angeles as well.

In the Rams official, 29 page application to the NFL for relocation, Kroenke sights that St. Louis has promised their fan base a top flight NFL stadium for “30 years” yet that the Jones Dome remains “one of the worst stadiums in professional sports.” While I will not dispute the fact that the Dome is outdated and does need to be replaced, I will dispute the statement that St. Louis has promised a top flight stadium for 30 years.

The Rams just finished their 20th season in St. Louis. Last time I checked, 20 was less than 30. And also, the reason St. Louis hasn’t been able to deliver is because building a new stadium requires significant contribution from ownership, something Kroenke either doesn’t understand or simply laughs off because he needs to spend his billions buying modern artwork or another yacht.

For reference, when Busch Stadium III was constructed in 2006 it had a final cost of $365 million. Granted, this is nowhere close to the $1.1 billion required to construct the Rams proposed new riverfront stadium – we’ll get to that later too – but bear with me. Cardinal ownership footed the bill for $200.5 million or 54.7% of that total cost.

At the time, Cardinal owners were worth roughly $600 million, so this was clearly a huge gamble. The result of this gamble was one of the most beautiful stadiums in professional sports and franchise growth that now sees Cardinal ownership worth over $4 billion. And by the way, the DeWitts are among the most revered and admired figures in St. Louis and the Cardinals basically run this city. We love that team because it loves us.

Kroenke refuses to provide the necessary funds to make the St. Louis riverfront stadium project a reality while still stating that St. Louis has done nothing to make good on its promise to deliver a top flight NFL stadium. Yeah, besides providing a complete and thorough proposal that only needs a thumbs up from the NFL to begin construction, St. Louis has done nothing.

Also, Kroenke calls out Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, citing the “many months of silence” the preceded Nixon’s announcement of a stadium task force. Yeah, the guy who hasn’t spoken to the media since he hired Jeff Fisher in 2012 (that’s 4 years ago, by the way) is calling someone else out for being too quiet.

Kroenke 3
What the hell are you smiling about with your Donald Trump-looking toupee

The Rams were routinely criticized for their lack of action on a stadium task force while Kroenke never met with Nixon regarding the task force until November 30th of this year, nearly 3 months after the force was formed. And that meeting only happened because NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell nudged Kroenke into it.

As I continue to dive deeper into Kroenke’s comments in his 29 page report full of hypocrisy and filth I just continue to be disgusted and miffed that one man could be so horrible. But, such is the life of Stan Kroenke, the man who claimed in 2010 that he would do “everything I can to keep this team in St. Louis” and has now completely and unfairly torn the team from the city’s clutches without a second thought.

More to come soon, stay tuned.

Thanks for reading…

-Ryan

Ryan’s Rants: Stan Kroenke, Worst Owner in Professional Sports (Part 1)

Domestic Violence Double Standards

Domestic violence. Two words that I’ve had to think about way, way too much lately; specifically with regards to Greg Hardy, who I’m also sick of thinking about. But for this article I’m going to bring up another name that you might have forgotten about in the NFL’s domestic violence mini-epidemic.

Ray Rice.

Remember him? The guy who punched his wife unconscious before getting on an elevator in Atlantic City in February 2014. The NFL’s original domestic violence case.

Well, Ray Rice is back in the news with his announcement today that he hopes to someday work for the NFL to raise awareness of domestic violence.

In past articles, I’ve said that I typically want to give athletes the benefit of the doubt with regards to most things. And that being said, I want to believe that Ray Rice has sincere desires to make a positive impact on the NFL in light of his awful mistake 2 February’s ago.

In case you need a refresher on Rice’s story, here you go, cliff notes style.

In February of 2014, Rice and his fiancé Janay Palmer were arrested, detained, and released from jail on charges of a “minor domestic dispute.” TMZ released a video of Rice dragging an unconscious Palmer from an Atlantic City elevator a few days later, and in July the NFL suspended Rice for 2 games. You know, because they need to at least pretend to care.

Then, on September 8th, TMZ released the video of Rice punching Palmer out cold before dragging her lifeless body into the elevator and later dragging her out. The Ravens immediately released Rice hours after the video was released. The NFL then took until the next day to suspend Rice “indefinitely.”

Then came the controversy. The NFL claimed they had never seen the video of Rice punching Palmer until TMZ released it. “You’re telling me that the NFL, one of the most powerful organization on the planet, could not access a video of one of its high profile athletes committing a horrific crime before freaking TMZ could?! Are you kidding me?” I thought.

It was an absolute debacle, both for Rice and the NFL. Rice hasn’t played a down since being released, as he shouldn’t because there is no place in this league for a man who domestically abuses a woman.

But, through all of this, Palmer stood by Rice’s side and supported him. Publicly appearing at press conferences with him, having his back, doing interviews in support of him, even finishing the engagement and getting married.

And though I’m usually not much for athlete apologies, I really did feel for Rice because his remorse was clear and I truly believe he just made a terrible mistake that he’ll regret for the rest of his life.

But Palmer’s remorse also tells me she was nearly equally involved in the incident and feels responsibility for it as well, which doesn’t get talked about in the media because female-on-male domestic violence cases are mostly a joke to the general public. But that’s a different topic for a different day.

And with Rice’s announcement that he is hoping to join the NFL in a role of raising domestic violence awareness is big; big for Rice, and big for the league’s image in trying to come out of a sort of Dark Age in player crime.

But with Rice’s announcement came a sad realization on my part that isn’t remotely surprising, but maddening and unfair.

Right now, the words ‘domestic violence’ seem to be synonymous with Greg Hardy’s name; and that was the first thing that came up in my mind with Rice’s announcement.

I’ve written on the league’s despicable enabling of Hardy solely because he’s a good player, and how unacceptable it is. But at the same time, the league has taken a strong public stand with regards to Rice’s case, suspending him for a really long time in conjunction with all the owners seemingly banding together to not employ him.

So it feels like they’ve done right with the Rice case. But they haven’t. Not even close. Everyone is lacking one key ingredient here.

Consistency.

There is only one reason why Greg Hardy still has a job in the NFL and Ray Rice doesn’t, and probably won’t. It’s because pass rushers are in higher demand and harder to find than running backs these days.

Think about it. Every team in today’s NFL needs a pass rush, it’s imperative to defensive success, and pass rushers are more overvalued than ever. But while every team also needs a running game, running backs have become much, much easier to find; as teams are now finding starting backs in late rounds of the draft and the Patriots just sign a new guy off the street and he runs for 200 yards the same week. So, in today’s NFL, the pass rusher is just worth astronomically more than the running back.

Greg Hardy is a very talented pass rusher, and is being paid and treated as such by the Cowboys, who continue to put up and enable all of his remorseless bullshit that hurts my mind every time he does something new and stupid.

Ray Rice is a talented running back, but running backs aren’t worth a lot anymore, so no team is willing to take the flak that will come with signing Rice when they can just go get another guy that can’t do the job as well as Rice, but won’t have all the baggage and won’t make their team image look so bad.

That, right there, is what’s wrong with the league and why I find myself trying not to like or support the NFL at any opportunity I can get. If a player is talented and can play a vital role, he’ll be coddled and enabled, no matter what kind of shit he puts up.

But if a player, like Rice, isn’t as useful to teams, they won’t even give him a remote glance because the negative pushback that would come from the signing just isn’t worth it to NFL teams’ precious reputations.

Again, let’s look specifically at the cases of Rice and Hardy.

As soon as the video of Rice punching Palmer was made public, Rice was released, suspended, ridiculed, and all good thoughts of him were exiled by the thought police. When the pictures of the injuries sustained by Hardy’s ex-girlfriend after his savage beating of her, the only thing that happened was a bunch of angry bloggers, feminists, and just people in general calling for Hardy’s job.

Did anything remotely close to what happened to Rice happen to Hardy? Absolutely not; in fact, I didn’t hear a peep from the Dallas Cowboys or the NFL after the pictures were released. They just sort of pretended that it wasn’t happening and that all was right with the world.

It’s completely unacceptable that guys like Hardy are enabled, while guys like Rice are spurned and ignored. Have some goddamn consistency and humanity. Have the balls to do what’s right and evaluate both these situations in the same light.

No amount of talent should ever dictate whether or not a player gets punished for breaking the freaking law and committing one of the worst crimes known to man short of murder. That’s just not how this world works.

But it’s how the NFL works. If you’ve got talent, you’ve got a spot in the league, no matter what you do. But if you’re expendable and your position isn’t valued as much as it should be, you better be an absolutely perfect human being, or one slip up and your job is gone.

Should this change? Of course; but will it? Not a chance. Money is king in the NFL, always has been and always will be. That will never change, and Greg Hardy makes the league a lot of money off his talent and merchandise credibility.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is a problem; a serious freaking problem. A problem that would take years to change because it’s deeply rooted in the culture of not just the NFL, but all professional sports.

I’m tired of writing about it, but I know this isn’t the last article I’ll be writing on this subject, and that makes me sad. But still I hold out hope that things can change, and these words will be my last on this despicable subject.

But until next time, I’ll let these be my last words.

God didn’t put men and women on this planet to be enemies, so stop treating them as such. Love each other, and be willing to forgive after an argument or dispute instead of looking to harm to get your point across. Violence is never the answer, in any case.

Thanks for reading…

-Ryan

Domestic Violence Double Standards

Adrian Peterson and Chewing Tobacco in Sportsdria

            I remember the first time that I watched The Sandlot. I was 8 years old, and over at a friend’s house when his dad popped it in the VCR after hearing that I’d never seen or heard of it.

I learned a lot of new stuff during my first run-through of The Sandlot. I gained a deeper love for the game of baseball, I discovered PF Flyer’s – and really wanted a pair for about a month, as I was a chubby, unathletic kid who figured that one pair of shoes could transform me – and I discovered what chewing tobacco was.

Unless you haven’t seen The Sandlot, then we all remember the scene when Grover pulls out a massive bag of ’Big Chief’ chewing tobacco at the carnival in celebration of their big win against those jerks that try and take their sandlot. “Big Chief?!” all the others exclaim excitedly, “It’s…the best.”

Grover showing the group his prized pack of Big Chief
Grover showing the group his prized pack of Big Chief

What comes next is the part that stuck with me.

When all the boys take a dip and then get onto some spinning ride and every last one of them vomits all over the place and gets off the ride holding their stomachs in pain.

While the scene is still hilarious to me, and one of my go-to quotes for just about anything, the part did stick with me and I remember asking myself, “why would I ever want to do something that would make me throw up like that and make me sick like that?”

To the common person, chewing tobacco might be a bit foreign, as your average Joe workingman might not be addicted to it. But in the culture of athletics, chewing tobacco is extremely prevalent and seemingly everywhere.

Take, for example Adrian Peterson.

Peterson has been, in his own words, “dipping for over 10 years”, and does so frequently during games and practices and whatnot. Now, why do I specifically bring up Peterson? Well, just last week he was nearly forced to be inactive for the Vikings game against the Lions due to a mysterious illness.

As we figured out on Friday of that week, Peterson’s mysterious illness was that he had accidentally – I’m assuming… – swallowed his mouthful of chew and it had made him violently ill and had caused him, much like we saw in that famous Sandlot scene, to throw up.

A professional athlete being paid $12.5 million almost missed a critical game because he swallowed his chewing tobacco. Is this not frustratingly fickle to anyone else?

Photo courtesy of Fox Sports
Photo courtesy of Fox Sports

When the media confronted Peterson about his tobacco incident, he scoffed at it, saying, “I’m surprised they (whoever broke the story) said that. I’ve been dipping for over 10 years; I would never let that happen.” Peterson said all of this with what SI writer Robert Klemko described as “a lip packed so robustly with tobacco, there was at least a half can in there.”

I’m really in no position to criticize Adrian Peterson’s life decisions, seeing as how he is likely much more successful than I will ever be. But what I am criticizing is the current culture of sports that subconsciously makes smokeless tobacco extremely prevalent and widespread.

When Tony Gwynn died of mouth cancer just last June, it was undoubtedly a sad day within not just the baseball family, but the entire sports family. But it was also a very important day as well.

While many mourned the loss of one of baseball’s greatest hitters and human beings, Gwynn’s cancer-induced passing – which he attributed to his habit of dipping smokeless tobacco over the course of his 20 year MLB career – reinforced the dangers and risks that chewing on leaves can cause. Later that afternoon, Diamondbacks closer Addison Reed talked to the media and said that Gwynn’s death had woken him up and made him throw out his stash of smokeless tobacco that was in his locker in an attempt to quit.

But Gwynn’s death is just part of a bigger, cultural issue. One that Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg knows all too well about.

Gwynn was Strasburg’s college coach at San Diego State University, and undoubtedly had a massive impact upon the Nationals’ ace. And, much like Reed, while mourning the death of his former college coach, Strasburg announced his intentions to kick his dipping habit.

Photo courtesy of MLB.com
Photo courtesy of MLB.com

Has he officially quit? I really have no idea, only he and his teammates and family probably know, and that’s really none of my business. But what I do know is Strasburg’s original reasoning behind getting into smokeless tobacco in the first place.

In a 2011 Washington Post article, Adam Kilgore profiled Strasburg’s “powerful addiction” to chewing tobacco and why he’s gotten into it by saying the following:

“Like any other high school kid, Stephen Strasburg wanted to emulate the major league baseball players he watched on television. He mimicked their actions down to the last detail. He rolled his pants up to reveal high socks, wore wristbands at the plate and, during downtime, opened tins of chewing tobacco and pinched some in his lower lip.”

Strasburg later admitted that he just wanted to be like all the guys he was watching on television, and that since they were chewing copious amounts of tobacco he figured he should too.

Without going too deeply into detail about all the types of cancer that can be contracted from dipping smokeless tobacco I just can’t emphasize enough how bad it is, and how erroneous the belief is that the rush of energy felt from the addictive nicotine aids performance. It doesn’t.

When testifying before Congress on the ills of smokeless tobacco, Harvard professor George Connolly described it as, “Simply nasty stuff…there’s no other way to look at it.

If you’re thinking, “Hey, Ryan’s trying to tell me how to live my life and what I should and shouldn’t do and that’s total hypocrisy” you are free to think that. But I’m not so much calling for everyone to quit smokeless tobacco – although that would actually be tremendous – so much as I am calling for major professional athletes to simply be more discrete about their use of it.

Instead of going out to the mound or the plate or the field – a la Jake Peavy, Chase Utley or Adrian Peterson – with a giant cheek or lip full of leaves, do your dipping in the dugout or the clubhouse or the locker room, where kids watching on television can’t see you and won’t want to mimic you.

Utley's cheek full of chew. Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Utley’s cheek full of chew. Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Peavy's cheek full of chew. Photo courtesy of the Boston Globe
Peavy’s cheek full of chew. Photo courtesy of the Boston Globe

Mark Reynolds used to be a self-prescribed, “heavy dipper”, but now has turned to sunflower seeds to give him the same sense of having a mouthful of food that he apparently needs to play. And being a sunflower seed eater myself, I can attest to that.

So the chewing tobacco that is so widely and copiously consumed by high level athletes everywhere doesn’t necessarily need to go, but the public and almost endorsing use of it needs to. More cases like Stephen Strasburg’s are not what the next generation needs and kids should not feel like they need to do drugs in order to emulate their favorite athletes. And on top of that, maybe we’ll stop hearing about “mysterious illnesses” that keep guys like Adrian Peterson from playing in important games.

As was the case with Big Chief, even if your smokeless tobacco is “…the best!” the health risks are just not worth it.

Thanks for reading…

-Ryan

Adrian Peterson and Chewing Tobacco in Sportsdria