There's not much sunshine in Ramsland these days, and that's only partially connected to the team's horrible, no good, very bad tendency to collapse at the worst possible moments.
This past Monday's game against the San Francisco 49ers was particularly painful. The Rams rookie quarterback scuttled a comeback with a late interception.
There's not much good news off the field, either. According to new "insider rumors" drifting around this month, Rams owner Stan Kroenke and the NFL are already committed to moving the team to Los Angeles. But St. Louis Rams fans aren't taking these rumors sitting down.
Phil Caldwell is one of those fans, and his connection to the team is kind of ironic. Last week he created a Change.org petition asking Missouri governor Jay Nixon to "actively pursue" a deal to keep the team from leaving. Caldwell, who grew up near Hazelwood, moved to LA in 2006. He still follows the team obsessively.
"I don't want them to move to LA; they're the St. Louis Rams," he says. "They're my home team."
Caldwell's petition has so far gathered nearly 3,000 signatures. Though the number is far from astronomical, the petition reflects a level of desperation from fans who've endured a bombardment of rumors this year. Without a new stadium deal in place, Kroenke can move the team where he wants after the season ends. He's already purchased 60 acres in Los Angeles which could easily accommodate a new home for the Rams.
In response, fans like Caldwell have taken to Twitter to lobby St. Louis mayor Slay and Nixon on Twitter.
Some fans offered borderline bribery to sway political leaders in Missouri and St. Louis.
Caldwell thinks it would be cruel to let the Rams leave now, especially since Jeff Fisher's three-year reign as head coach represents the team's longest period of stability since those heady Superbowl seasons in 2000 and 2001.
"The team really is just beginning to click together," says Caldwell, who now lives in Seattle. "This might be a chance for St. Louis to bond with these payers that they remember getting drafted three or four years ago."
"It's more than just a sports team," he adds. "It's more than just a Sunday pastime, it means jobs, it means tax revenues, it means all these things for the city of St. Louis."
But even Caldwell admits that there's a sense of impending doom about the stadium situation. Fans booed Kroenke's name Monday night, and whispers of the move to LA peaked over the past seven days, starting last Thursday on ESPN Radio WXOS (101.1 FM). During an interview with Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff, show host Randy Karraker said he'd heard the move to LA was a "done deal." Demoff, in response, said no decisions had been made yet, but that the team's future in St. Louis depended on a "a global solution" to the stadium issue.
But all is not lost. Sure, the team's performance on the field is hurting attendance, resulting in the lowest Monday Night Football ticket prices all year, but this week St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports columnist Bryan Burwell leaked new rumors that there is, in fact, a local push to get a stadium deal done. Citing anonymous sources, Burwell described a plan to build an open-air stadium on the St. Louis riverfront between the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge and the Lumiere Place Casino and Hotels.
Burwell writes that we won't see details of a new stadium until after next month's midterm elections. Until then -- if that happens -- there's little to comfort Rams fans watching what could be the team's last season in St. Louis.
Note: The story previously incorrectly referred to the Rams' gold and blue uniforms as "Los Angeles throwback jerseys." While the jerseys do represent a throwback to the team's LA history, the Rams continued using the color scheme through the 1999 Superbowl-winning season in St. Louis. The story has been updated.
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