(Photo by Variety)
After the Rams had conned the city of St. Louis into believing that it was going to get a perennial winning football team that was there to stay, Week 1 showed that people were possibly conned again. The Rams have tried to convince you that they have their franchise quarterback, will pound the rock for three yards in a cloud of dust, are stacked on defense, and will let you know what a real football team is all about. Most regrettably, they are still promising to be the hottest ticket in the town.
Sadly, like all serial con artists and their deceitful attempts, Monday night’s catastrophe against the San Francisco 49ers only gave us a visual consequence of how the con artistry acts of owner Stan Kroenke could catch up to him.
The face of the franchise stayed on the bench behind a second-stringer, and the offense got pounded into literally creating three yards in thin air. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald made better contact with an official than with 49ers quarterback Blaine Gabbert, and with 28 points allowed from the NFC’s least talented team, the Rams produced a clown show.
In a country where not being treated as stupid and high results matter, seeing the Rams lose like failures made people outside of SoCal, and even St. Louis, thrilled. We have always been told how close the Rams are and that they are one “this” or “that” away from being contenders, even though they have not been a .500 team since 2006 and a winner since 2003. Worst of all, we have always been pushed into believing in head coach Jeff Fisher’s capabilities. But when he cannot coach quarterbacks like Andy Reid, Chip Kelly, or even Chan Gailey, and has more losing seasons than winning, basking in the Rams misery was more than appropriate as we cannot tolerate their bluster anymore.
Bluster will happen when an absentee owner like Kroenke will enable Fisher to do whatever he wants and let the son of his agent Marvin Demoff, Kevin, run the team. Tragically, it is not as if great improvements will come for the Rams as their owner has blatantly made relatability a greater priority than merit.
Kroenke and the Rams have continued the NFL’s longest streak of never hiring a minority head coach or general manager, a “feat” that has gone on for 80 straight years since the team’s existence. When minorities have to pay their dues and earn less in comparison to Fisher and his eighty-four cats’ lives since becoming a head coach at age 36, hiring a minority or the pay-your-dues type would be eighteen times better than any further due payments to Fisher.
But the odds say that Kroenke will abate that from happening as his legal ownership history with two other teams, the Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets, shows that he will make an administration whiter than his mustache.
We know about the Avalanche as NHL owners and minorities mutually have little to no interest in increased diversity among coaches and executives. But as Nuggets owner from 2000 till 2010, he may have looked fair-minded by at least making African-Americans just interim head coaches. However, since interims just earn their assistant coaching salaries and cannot make seven figures until employed in the full-time position, the Nuggets African-American coaches still got screwed.
Most unfortunate was when his first of two hires, Mike Evans, replaced Dan Issel amidst an incident where Issel screamed at a Hispanic fan “Go drink your beer you f***ing Mexican” in December 2001 and left as a 9-17 coach. Injuries to star Antonio McDyess already derailed the team from the beginning, and the roster worsened further after starters Nick Van Exel and Raef LaFrentz were traded. Evans ultimately finished the season 18-38. But even after winning a similar percentage of games to Issel, Kroenke made Jeff Bzdelik, a man that was 25-31 at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, the Nuggets full-time head coach.
Guess what color he was?
Sure, Bzdelik had one winning season in 2004 as a rookie named Carmelo Anthony led the team to the playoffs, except with a 17-65 season in 2003, a 13-15 record leading to his firing in 2005, and a 160–179 record with four men’s college basketball teams, Kroenke most certainly made merit irrelevant.
We all agree that meritocracy should matter when someone is being hired for a job, but with Fisher, neither meritocratic nor social progress has been made. For far too long, the Rams have given the lead position to a guy that is relatable to their ownership or barks down a bunch of players’ necks. They have lost for so long that they failed to realize that the winning coaches whom players want to play for are ones that either relate to or accept the players for who they are, like Pete Carroll or Mike Tomlin. So hiring a player-friendly or black pay-your-dues coach after not doing so for 80 years may not be bad after all.
Unfortunately, based on Kroenke’s history, we will likely see the lack of diversity continue and organizational poorness for a while. There are no draft picks, offensive players outside of Todd Gurley, and offensive coaches that perform as well as their defensive counterparts. Besides, Kroenke only won championships when the sport had no salary cap, the NHL. So until the NFL or NBA decides to get rid of its own, the odds of him not making a Super Bowl or NBA Finals will be as high as him making his front offices and head coaches whiter than the Avalanche ice.