Without being able to independently verify the amount of money Stan Kroenke and his fellow NFL goblins must pay St. Louis (I’ll take the St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s word for it that it is $790 million), I can say confidently that it wasn’t nearly enough. Not by billions, not by jail time.
There was always hope that St. Louis’s revenge for being double-dealt by Kroenke and the rest of the ghoul patrol would cause internal warfare at the next owners’ meetings, that the cost for screwing a city would reach 11 digits rather stopping at nine, and that some of the NFL’s legal team would looking for cardboard boxes today for consistently providing such magnificently awful advice to such proud bastions of amoral rapacity. Of course, as we have learned often, hope is for suckers.
But $790 million seems like a lowball offer for the opportunity of a lifetime—to see the internal communications of people who for their own good should have their eyes sealed shut, their ears bunged up with wax, and their hands encased in cement mittens. It was also a chance to see not just how the sausage is made but to see how the league steals the pigs of the municipalities it operates in and slaughters them in the front yard of a mansion that is not zoned for livestock. It was definitely a chance to see if Kroenke’s reported $8.2 billion in net worth could withstand a fight with the $143 billion net worths of the other 30 owners, plus whatever spare change the Packers can find in their reception area couch.
But no, St. Louis had the twitches about cash in hand, and had to make the rent.
It’s probably wrong to speculate how quickly the city needed a quick settlement to make the civic lesion that was the Rams go away. But because St. Louis stuck to its guns this long and massively outlawyered by simply applying law and logic to a typical NFL smash-and-grab, they at least got the $790M. The city did not get the right to a future NFL expansion team, but then again, why would you want those weasels back in your town for any reason? Frankly, they should be arrested either one at a time or en masse the next time they change planes in St. Louis.
This is not naivete talking. I know how the system works. It works for them as they work you. Consider it rather a fantasy, the way you would imagine your neighbor with the huge barking dog who parks his car on his lawn would be sentenced to be frogwalked to a North Dakota rock quarry to tear down a mountain with only his hands and a jeweler’s hammer.
But the NFL’s brazen choice to ignore its own rules, contracts it had signed, and state and federal law to give Kroenke, one of its leading members, a path to potential riches in Los Angeles deserves the kind of sanction that the league would remember. Having to pass the hat to get $500M from every team, for example, would be closer to the ballpark where the appropriate punishments are played. And then, just to drive the point home with a mining drill at the end of a locomotive headed at top speed straight at them, to make public all the communications that led from Kroenke buying the Rams to Kroenke moving the Rams. That way, all future NFL suitors can see just with what level of human mudslide they would be negotiating, and to allow voters to see just what local politicans should not only be voted out of office but encased in rockets paid for and fueled by the St. Louis settlement and shot into the sun.
You know, to restore a bit of balance to the cavalcade of local theftapaloozas that have powered the NFL to its current level of well-compensated evil. And $790 megascoots isn’t nearly enough to fund that kind of urban development.
There is, however, good news. The NFL will do this again because it can afford the cost of a year’s salary of Jimmy Garoppolo per team to keep its more vile secrets safe from prying eyes, and maybe this time a properly vengeful municipality will finish what St. Louis showed how to start. Keep all the receipts, never go away when dismissed by the rich guys’ caretaker/security force, find a judge who is immune to the brassier forms of corporate bullshit, and know that the league is only as strong as its owners’ hesitation to screw each other in the process of screwing the rest of us.
Other than that, happy Thanksgiving. There is an excellent chance that your turkey came from some farm owned by Jim Irsay. There is no escape, except for St. Louis. Hats off to them. Maybe they can buy part of an NBA team.