History of the St. Louis Rams
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|St. Louis Rams|
Played in St. Louis, Missouri
Headquartered in Earth City, Missouri
Millenium Blue, New Century Gold, White
|Owner(s)||Georgia Frontiere (1995–2008)
Chip Rosenbloom (2008–2010)
Lucia Rodriguez (2008–2010)
Stan Kroenke (2010–2015)
|Chairman||Stan Kroenke (1995–2010)
Chip Rosenbloom (2010–2015)
|General manager||Steve Ortmayer (1995–1996)
Dick Vermeil (1997–1999)
Charley Armey (2000–2005)
Jay Zygmunt (2006–2008)
Billy Devaney (2009–2011)
Les Snead (2012–2015)
|Head coach||Rich Brooks (1995–1996)
Dick Vermeil (1997–1999)
Mike Martz (2000–2005)
Joe Vitt (2005)
Scott Linehan (2006–2008)
Jim Haslett (2008)
Steve Spagnuolo (2009–2011)
Jeff Fisher (2012–2015)
League championships (1)
Conference championships (2)
Division championships (3)
|Playoff appearances (5)|
The professional American football franchise now known as the Los Angeles Rams played in St. Louis, Missouri as the St. Louis Rams from the 1995 through the 2015 seasons. The Rams franchise relocated from Los Angeles to St. Louis in 1995, which had been without a National Football League (NFL) team since the Cardinals moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1988. The Rams' first home game in St. Louis was at Busch Memorial Stadium against the New Orleans Saints on September 10, 1995 before the Trans World Dome (now known as The Dome at America's Center) was completed for their November 12 game against the Carolina Panthers. Their last game played at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis was against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on December 17, 2015, which they won, 31-23. The Rams' last game as a St. Louis-based club was on January 3, 2016 against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium, where they lost in overtime 19–16.
- 1 Origins
- 2 First years (1995–2000)
- 3 1999–2001: The Greatest Show on Turf
- 4 2002–14: Struggles
- 5 Nick Foles and the final season in St. Louis
- 6 Stadium problems; return relocation to Los Angeles
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Bibliography
Cardinals move to Arizona and begin new approach
For 22 of their 28 years, the St. Louis Cardinals called Busch Memorial Stadium home after it opened in 1966, after spending their first six years in St. Louis at Sportsman's Park; they shared both stadiums with the baseball team of the same name. But the overall mediocrity of the Cardinals, combined with stadium issues, caused game attendance to dwindle, and once again the Bidwills decided to move the team. The cities they looked at included Baltimore, Phoenix, New York City, and Jacksonville. Nonetheless, Cardinals fans were unhappy at losing their team, and Bill Bidwill, fearing for his safety, stayed away from several of the 1987 home games. Their last home game was on December 13, 1987, in which the Cardinals won 27–24 over the New York Giants in front of 29,623 fans on a late Sunday afternoon.
Not long after the 1987 season, Bidwill agreed to move to the Phoenix area on a handshake deal with state and local officials, and the team became the Phoenix Cardinals. They planned to play at Arizona State University's Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe on a temporary basis while a new stadium was being built. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, the savings and loan crisis derailed financing for the stadium, forcing the Cardinals to play at Arizona State for 18 years.
The move to Anaheim
Prior to their 1979 Super Bowl season, owner Carroll Rosenbloom drowned in an accident; so, his widow, Georgia Frontiere, inherited 70% ownership of the team. Frontiere fired her step-son, Steve Rosenbloom, to assume total control of the franchise. As had been planned prior to Carroll Rosenbloom's death, the Rams moved from their longtime home at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to Anaheim Stadium in nearby Orange County, in 1980. The reason for the move was twofold; firstly, attendance. The L.A. Memorial Coliseum was more difficult to sell-out than stadiums in other NFL cities because of its abnormally large seating capacity (100,000); and, Pete Rozelle—who had since become NFL Commissioner—created a 'black-out rule' preventing any home game that wasn't sold-out from being broadcast in its local TV market. Secondly, the Southern California's population patterns were changing: there was rapid growth in L.A.'s affluent suburbs (e.g., greater Orange County), and a decline in the city of Los Angeles' citizenship and earning power. Anaheim Stadium was originally built in 1966 as the home of the California Angels Major League Baseball franchise. To accommodate the Rams' move, the ballpark was re-configured with luxury suites, and enclosed to accommodate crowds of about 65,000 for football.
In 1982, L.A. Memorial Coliseum was occupied by the erstwhile Los Angeles Raiders (now the Oakland Raiders). The combined effect of these two factors, was to force the Rams' traditional fanbase to be split between two teams. Making matters even worse, at this time the Rams were unsuccessful on the field, while the Raiders were thriving—even winning Super Bowl XVIII in 1983. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers won championships in 1980 and 1982 en route to winning five titles in that decade; the Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series in 1981 and 1988; and, even the Los Angeles Kings made a deep run in the 1982 season's NHL playoffs. Suddenly, the Los Angeles Rams had too much competition off the field, too.
1990–94: Frontiere's end game for the L.A. Rams
Although it was not apparent at the time, the 1989 NFC Championship Game marked the end of an era. The Rams would not have another winning season in Los Angeles for the remainder of the century, and beyond. The first half of the 1990s featured four straight 10-loss seasons, no playoff appearances, and waning fan interest. The return of Chuck Knox as head coach (after his successful stints as head coach of the Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks), would not boost the Rams' fortunes. His run-oriented offense brought about the end of offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese's tenure in 1993. General Manager John Shaw was perceived by some to continually squander NFL Draft picks on sub-standard talent. The offensive scheme was not only unspectacular to watch, but dull by 1990s standards—further alienating fans. One bright spot for the offense during this time would be running back Jerome Bettis, a bruising running back from Notre Dame. Bettis flourished in Knox' offense, running for 1,429 yards as a rookie, and 1,025 in his sophomore effort.
Georgia Frontiere attempted to relocate the Rams to Baltimore, but her fellow owners turned that proposal down. Mrs. Frontiere then sought to re-locate the team to St. Louis. This move was initially voted down as well. The other owners (led by Buffalo's Ralph Wilson, the Jets' Leon Hess, the Giants' Wellington Mara, Washington's Jack Kent Cooke, Arizona's Bill Bidwill and Minnesota's John Skoglund) believed that the Rams' financial problems were due to the Frontieres' mismanagement. When Frontiere threatened to sue the league, Commissioner Paul Tagliabue acquiesced to Frontiere's demands. As part of the re-location deal, the city of St. Louis agreed to build a taxpayer-financed stadium, the Trans World Dome (now the Edward Jones Dome) and guaranteed that the stadium's amenities would be maintained in the top 25% of all NFL stadiums. Frontiere waived the clause after a 10-year threshold period passed, as the city implemented a later plan to improve the stadium.
The move left many in the Los Angeles area, and many of those indifferent to the whole situation, embittered toward the NFL. That sentiment was best expressed by Fred Dryer, who at the time said "I hate these people [the organization and its owner] for what they did, taking the Rams logo with them when they moved to St. Louis. That logo belonged to Southern California." Steve Rosenbloom, the general manager of the team during Carroll Rosenbloom's tenure, opined that teams come and go, but for a team to leave Los Angeles—the second largest media market in America—for St. Louis (approximately the 18th-largest) was simply irresponsible and foolish, in spite of the notoriously fickle support of Los Angeles fans. With the Raiders moving from L.A. back to Oakland only a few months later, the NFL would have no franchise in Los Angeles for two decades, although the Coliseum was used for professional football in 2001 by the Los Angeles Xtreme of the now-defunct XFL.
First years (1995–2000)
While the Rams dealt with stadium concerns in Los Angeles, efforts were underway to regain an NFL franchise in St. Louis to play in a new domed stadium slated to open in 1995. First, Anheuser-Busch scion Jim Orthwein tried, and ultimately failed, to move the New England Patriots to St. Louis. Then, despite being heavily favored along with Charlotte to win an expansion team, St. Louis lost to a group from Jacksonville, Florida. So certain, in fact, did it appear that St. Louis would gain an expansion franchise, that the team had a name selected – the Stallions – and T-shirts with the team's logo were made very briefly available for sale at a number of St. Louis area sports shops.
Just before moving to St. Louis the Rams fired Knox and hired Rich Brooks, longtime successful football coach at the University of Oregon, to replace him. The team played its first several games in St. Louis at Busch Stadium (the home of the NFL's St. Louis Cardinals from 1966 until 1987) which was as work was finished on their new home, the Trans World Dome (now known as the Edward Jones Dome). Brooks jettisoned Knox' run-oriented scheme in favor of a powerful air attack. Bettis all but disappeared from the offense, rushing for only 637 yards. Despite this, the Rams started off well, getting off to a 5–1 start. However, a 44–10 thumping by the 49ers in the last game at Busch Stadium sent the team into a downward spiral, and they ultimately finished 7–9—still the closest they came to contention since 1989. The biggest highlight of the season was longtime offensive lineman Jackie Slater, in his 20th season, staying around just long enough to play his final NFL game as a Ram in St. Louis.
The next three years would largely be a repeat of the Rams' last five years in Los Angeles. The team drafted highly touted Nebraska running back Lawrence Phillips with the sixth overall pick in the 1996 NFL Draft, making Bettis expendable. Bettis would be traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for draft picks, a move now seen as one of the most lopsided trades in professional sports history, strongly favoring the Steelers. After regressing to 6–10 in 1996, Brooks was replaced by Dick Vermeil. Vermeil had enjoyed success as the head coach of UCLA (where he won a Rose Bowl) and the Philadelphia Eagles, where he led the Eagles to Super Bowl XV. However, Vermeil left the Eagles after an unsuccessful 1982 season, claiming burnout, and proceeded to spend much of the next decade and a half as a college football commentator for ABC Sports.
Vermeil's first two seasons as Rams coach were as unsuccessful as many of the seasons that preceded it, including cutting Phillips mid-season in 1997, cementing Phillips' status as a draft bust. Through the 1998 season this futility made the Rams through the decade of the 1990s the worst team, record-wise, in the NFL, with only the Cincinnati Bengals even coming close to futility during the decade.
1999–2001: The Greatest Show on Turf
1999: Second Super Bowl appearance and Super Bowl champions
Finally in 1999, there appeared to be reason for hope as the Rams obtained quarterback Trent Green and running back Marshall Faulk in two separate trades. Unfortunately in the preseason Green would blow out his ACL and miss the entire season. A tearful Vermeil vowed that the Rams would "play good football" behind Green's backup, a 28-year-old former Arena Football League Iowa Barnstormers and NFL Europe Amsterdam Admirals player named Kurt Warner. However, most observers believed Green's injury set up the Rams for another long season of failure. Indeed, ESPN Magazine had predicted that the Rams would finish with the worst record in the league (even worse than the expansion Cleveland Browns.) Little did they, or anyone, know what would happen that season.
Warner was, without question, the biggest story of the 1999 NFL season. He proved to be the catalyst that would spark an explosive offense nicknamed "The Greatest Show on Turf", and furthermore also give the Rams a number of dramatic victories often won on desperate late drives that enabled him to win the NFL MVP award. However, Green went on to become one of the most productive quarterbacks in the league in his own right after being acquired by Kansas City in 2001. The 1999 NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award would go to Rams RB Marshall Faulk.
The 1999 St. Louis Rams were also noted for a colorful celebration conducted by their offensive players in the end zone after scoring a touchdown. The celebration, which involved a group of players standing in a circle and swaying their arms as a football spun like a top in the center of the circle, was known as the "Bob 'N Weave." This celebration, and other such "premeditated and prolonged" celebrations, were shortly thereafter effectively banned by the NFL in that any such celebrations would now result in "excessive celebration" penalties.
After finishing the 1999 season 13–3 (the franchise's second-best regular season record), the Rams started out the 1999 playoffs by defeating the Minnesota Vikings 49–37 to achieve their first NFC Championship Game since 1989. The opponent would be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers were successful in shutting down the Rams' vaunted offense. Still, the Rams managed to win the game 11–6, with the one touchdown coming on a Kurt Warner 30-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Proehl, who made an amazing one-handed catch. Proehl, a 10-year NFL veteran who was in the playoffs for the first time in his NFL career, said after the game "There are a lot of people who say there are 500 Ricky Proehls out there. I beg to differ."
The Rams' opponent in Super Bowl XXXIV would be the Tennessee Titans, who like the Rams had recently relocated from a major metropolis (Houston, Texas) to a mid-sized city (Nashville, Tennessee). In a game that many consider the best Super Bowl ever, Tennessee played the Rams tough throughout, achieving a 16–16 tie with 2:12 left on an Al Del Greco field goal. On the next drive, Warner, who had been clutch all season long, came through once again, connecting with Isaac Bruce for a 73-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the drive that gave the Rams a 23–16 lead with 1:53 to play.
Tennessee then mounted a desperate, last-minute drive, reaching the St. Louis 10-yard line with six seconds left and no timeouts. Tennessee quarterback Steve McNair threw to Kevin Dyson on a slant. Dyson caught the pass at the 3 but was stopped by The Tackle by Mike Jones eighteen inches shy of the goal line, ending the game and giving the Rams, and Dick Vermeil (who had told his coaches to begin preparing for overtime) their first Super Bowl victory. Warner, in the performance of his life, was named Super Bowl MVP. Following the Rams' Super Bowl victory, coach Vermeil retired from football (though he came back to the game in 2001 as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs) and was replaced by offensive coordinator (and apprentice) Mike Martz.
2000: Wild card loss
In Mike Martz's first year as Rams head coach, the defending-champion Rams started off the season by winning their first six games as they went 7–1 in the first half of the season. However, their season started getting ugly. They went 3–5 during the last half of the season, including a three-game skid. They still managed to get into the playoffs with a 10–6 record and the NFC's #6 seed, but now they had to face the NFC West champion, which were the #3 New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card Round. Playing at the Louisiana Superdome, the Rams #1 offense didn't prove much, as their 24th-ranked defense gave up a 7–0 first quarter lead and they trailed 17–7 going into the fourth quarter. After the Saints had a 31–7 lead, the Rams valiantly tried to fight back. Despite three straight touchdowns, the Rams couldn't pull off a comeback and fell 31–28 in the Saints' first playoff win in franchise history.
2001: Third Super Bowl appearance
In 2001, the "Max Q" Rams went 14–2 (including a spectacular 8–0 on the road), led not only by a sensational offense (their third straight year of scoring 500 or more points), but a lights out defense as well, coached by Lovie Smith and led by Adam Archuleta. After easily handling Green Bay in the divisional playoffs, they fought off a pesky and determined Philadelphia Eagles team 29–24 to achieve their second Super Bowl in three seasons. Their opponents in Super Bowl XXXVI would be the New England Patriots who, much as the Rams had had two years previous, had enjoyed a Cinderella playoff run, highlighted by a dramatic and controversial 16–13 divisional playoff win against the Oakland Raiders.
The talent-laden Rams appeared to be primed to become the first pro football dynasty of the 21st century. However, despite being a 14-point favorite, the Rams lost to the Patriots. From the beginning the Rams were dominated by the Patriots. The Patriots chipped the Rams wideouts and running backs, disrupting their precision passing patterns. They also beat up Kurt Warner, forcing him into uncharacteristic mistakes, including an interception to Ty Law that resulted in a 47-yard return for a score.
Finally, in the fourth quarter, the Rams mounted a come back attempt. Two plays after an apparent game-clinching 95-yard fumble return by the Patriots on 4th down was reversed on a penalty, Kurt Warner scored on a 2-yard keeper to bring the Rams to within 7 points, 17–10. After holding the Patriots on the next drive, the Rams were in much the same situation as they had been two years previous against Tennessee. Warner came through once again, quickly leading the Rams on a dramatic drive culminating in a 26-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Proehl. The extra point by Jeff Wilkins tied the game at 17 with 90 seconds left.
With the Patriots holding no time outs and the Rams having seized the momentum, overtime seemed assured. Even John Madden on the Fox broadcast of the game, opined that the Patriots should play for overtime. However, on this day it was not meant to be for the Rams. This time it was Tom Brady leading the Patriots down the field against the Rams defense, completing all but one pass (an intentional spike to stop the clock) before Adam Vinatieri's last-second 48-yard field goal defeated the Rams 20–17.
Super Bowl XXXVI later became part of the wider 2007 National Football League videotaping controversy, also known as "Spygate". In addition to other videotaping allegations, the Boston Herald reported, citing an unnamed source, that the Patriots had also taped the Rams' walkthrough practice prior to the game. After further investigations, the league determined that no tape of the Rams' Super Bowl walkthrough was made, and the Herald later issued an apology in 2008 for their article about the alleged walkthrough tape.
In 2002, the Rams had a very disappointing 7–9 final record (after starting out 0–5). The silver lining was the emergence of young quarterback Marc Bulger, from West Virginia University, who, after Kurt Warner was injured, won every game in which he both started and finished. Though not as intriguing a story as Warner's emergence in 1999 (the season in which Trent Green was injured and Warner became the star quarterback) Bulger's emergence was a highlight of the Rams' 2002 NFL season, demonstrating Martz's knack of developing lightly regarded or overlooked individuals into top-quality, productive quarterbacks. Also, the Rams gained two new divisional rivals in the Western Division thanks to a leaguewide realignment that created eight new divisions of four teams each. One of these new rivals, the Arizona Cardinals, played in St. Louis from 1960 until the end of the 1987 season, and the other, the Seattle Seahawks, returned to the NFC for the first time since their inaugural 1976 season.
The once-magical Warner lost the starter's job to Bulger after suffering six fumbles in the season opener against the Giants early in 2003 season.[clarification needed] (Although it should be noted that he was sacked and diagnosed with a concussion on the second play of the game, and yet foolishly kept himself in the game). Warner was released by the Rams in June 2004 and quickly signed a free agent contract with the New York Giants, ending his career with the Rams. The departure of Warner proved to be the end of the "Greatest Show on Turf" era.
The 2003 season saw the Rams go 12–4, win the Western Division again. However, the Rams lost a crushing Divisional defeat to the Carolina Panthers (29–23 in double overtime), who went on to become NFC Champions.
During the 2004 NFL Draft, the Rams used their first pick (24th overall) to select RB Steven Jackson from Oregon State. They then used their second pick (91), in the third round on DE Anthony Hargrove from Georgia Tech. Their third selection was LB Brandon Chillar from UCLA (130). The Rams following picks were as follows:
- 5th Round (158) – Jason Shivers, S Arizona State
- 6th Round (201) – Jeff Smoker, QB Michigan State
- 7th Round (237) – Erik Jensen, TE Iowa
- 7th Round (238) – Larry Turner, OT Eastern Kentucky
The Rams began their 10th year in St. Louis at home winning their Week 1 home-opener against the Arizona Cardinals 17–10. They lost their next two games of the season. They lost on the road to eventual NFC South champion Atlanta Falcons 34–17, then lost to the New Orleans Saints at home 28–25 in overtime. The Rams got to 2–2 on the season with a 24–14 road victory over their historic divisional rival, the San Francisco 49ers. In Week 5, they traveled to Qwest Field and took on another division rival, the Seattle Seahawks. They trailed 27–24 late in the fourth quarter when the Rams managed to get a 36-yard field goal by Jeff Wilkins to send the game into overtime. Eventually, the Rams won the game 33–27 on a 52-yard pass from Marc Bulger to Shaun McDonald. Afterwards, they went home and got a win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28–21. The Rams lost a week later on the road to the hapless Miami Dolphins 31–14.
Not even their Week 8 Bye Week could save them, as they lost to the defending champion New England Patriots at home 40–22. The Rams redeemed themselves as they won regular-season bragging rights at home against the Seahawks with a final score of 23–12. Their playoff hopes decreased as they lost their next two road games, to the Buffalo Bills (37–17) and to the eventual NFC North champion Green Bay Packers (45–17). At home, they managed to sweep their much-hated rival, the 49ers, at home 16–6. Their playoff hopes continued to shrink as they lost their next two road games to the Carolina Panthers (20–7) and to the Cardinals (31–7). At 6–8, the Rams had to win their last two games to have any hope for the playoffs. Fortunately, their last two games were at home. They easily won against the Philadelphia Eagles 20–7, since their opponent already had the NFC's #1 seed and they were resting their good players for the playoffs. Afterwards, they faced the New York Jets for their final regular season game. Both sides played hard and fierce, but in the end, the Rams were able to get a victory in overtime with a 31-yard field goal by Wilkins. Not only did the Rams win 32–29, but they also got the NFC's #5 seed, despite having an 8–8 record.
For the wild card round, they flew to Seattle and took on the Seahawks for the third time in the season. The Rams managed to lead for most of the game, until the early part of the fourth quarter, when the Seahawks got a 23-yard touchdown pass from QB Matt Hasselbeck to WR Darrell Jackson. The Rams took the lead again with a 27-yard field goal by Wilkens. Then, Bulger threw a 17-yard TD pass to Cam Cleeland. The Seahawks tried to respond and tie the game. At 4th and goal with 27 seconds remaining, Hasselbeck threw a pass to WR Bobby Engram but he couldn't hold on, and the Rams won. The Rams made NFL history by becoming the first team to go .500 (8–8) in the regular season and win a playoff game.
Unfortunately, the Rams' tenth season in St. Louis, came to a very sour end as they were thrashed in the divisional round by the Atlanta Falcons 47–17.
2005–10: Playoff drought
The Rams started the 2005 campaign off on the wrong foot. They lost their Week 1 road game to their historic rival, the San Francisco 49ers by a score of 28–25. After week 2 they evened the record to 1–1 with a 17–12 win at Sun Devil Stadium against the Arizona Cardinals, in which former teammate Kurt Warner was the Cardinals' QB. Then, they won their Week 3 home-opener against the Tennessee Titans 31–27. Things started to get out of hand, as they lost their next three games. In week 5, head coach Mike Martz was diagnosed with an infection in his heart. Joe Vitt was named interim head coach. During Vitt's first game as interim head coach, the Rams not only lost to the then-undefeated Indianapolis Colts, but starting QB Marc Bulger sprained an AC joint in the second quarter. Fortunately, the Rams would win their next two home games as QB Jamie Martin led hard-earned victories against the New Orleans Saints (28–17) and the Jacksonville Jaguars (24–21). After a Week 9 Bye, despite Bulger returning to the line-up, the Rams were swept in Seattle 31–16. The Rams next lost a rematch to the Cardinals, in which Kurt Warner got revenge against his former team and Bulger went down with another shoulder injury. Against the Houston Texans Martin was knocked out of the game with a concussion, giving rookie QB Ryan Fitzpatrick his first playing time in the NFL. The Rams won 33–27 in overtime thanks to a 56-yard pass from Fitzpatrick to WR Kevin Curtis. Unfortunately, they lost the next four games. Despite getting the start for their last home game of the season, the Rams failed to stop the 49ers from sweeping them by a final score of 24–20. Martin and the Rams managed to end their disastrous season on a positive note, beating the Dallas Cowboys on the road on ESPN's final Sunday Night game. Afterwards, Mike Martz was fired, ending his reign as Rams head coach.
Despite having a talent-laden roster, the Rams front office dysfunction had traveled from California to Missouri. Team President John Shaw chose to remain in Los Angeles after the re-location. This enabled President of Football Operations Jay Zygmunt and former head coach Mike Martz to carve out rival fiefdoms within the Rams front office. As poor draft choices and mediocre records began to pile up for the once budding dynasty, the rivalries within the Rams organization began to flare. This culminated when Martz was forced to sit out with an infection in his heart. Martz attempted to phone a play in to his offensive coordinator, but was forbidden from doing so by Zygmunt. For all intents and purposes, this ended the Martz era and tossed the Rams into chaos. Hoping to regain control within the franchise, Scott Linehan was named head coach of the St. Louis Rams on January 19, 2006. He previously served as the offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins. On January 24, Jim Haslett, the former head coach of the New Orleans Saints, signed a three-year deal to become the Rams new defensive coordinator.
Following the 2007 season, Georgia Frontiere died January 18, 2008 after owning the team for 28 years. Ownership of the team passed to her son Dale "Chip" Rosenbloom and daughter Lucia Rodriguez. Chip Rosenbloom was named the new Rams majority owner. Scott Linehan, meanwhile, was already faced with scrutiny from several players in the locker room, including Torry Holt and Steven Jackson. Linehan was then fired on September 29, 2008, after the team started the season 0–4. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, took over as interim head coach for the rest of the 2008 season. On December 24, 2008, John Shaw resigned as team president and Zygmunt resigned as president of football operations and general manager two days earlier. Billy Devaney was promoted to general manager.
Steve Spagnuolo was named the new head coach of the franchise in January 2009. In his previous post as Defensive Coordinator with the New York Giants, Spagnuolo masterminded a defensive scheme that shut down the potent offense of the previously undefeated and untied New England Patriots, the odds on favorite to win the Super Bowl that year. In one of the greatest upsets in Super Bowl history, the New York Giants defeated the Patriots 17–14.As the 2009 season began, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh put in an offer to buy the Rams; however he had created controversy during his 2003 stint as a sportscaster with comments he made about Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb which were interpreted by many to be racially disparaging. All of the African-American players on the Rams squad threatened to quit if Limbaugh bought the team. The NFL was uncomfortable with the idea of politics being mixed in with football, and he was forced to drop his plans. In spite of his success with the New York Giants, Spagnuolo's first season as Rams head coach was terribly disappointing as the team went 1-15. It began on an ill omen when the Rams were shut out by Seattle. The team's lone victory came in Week 8 when they traveled to Ford Field and defeated the Lions 17–10. Spagnuolo, however, was not fired after his poor first season.
On May 31, 2009, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the majority owners Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez officially offered their majority share of Rams for sale. They retained the services of Goldman Sachs, a prominent investment banking firm, to help facilitate the sale of the Rams by evaluating bids and soliciting potential buyers. The sale price was unknown, but at the time Forbes estimate listed the Rams' value at $929 million. On the final day to do so, then-minority owner Stan Kroenke invoked his right of first refusal to buy the 60% of the team that he did not already own. The original intended buyer, Shahid Khan, would later acquire the Jacksonville Jaguars after the 2011 season. Pursuant to NFL rules, owners are prohibited from owning other sports teams in markets where there is already an NFL team. At the time of purchase, Kroenke,a real estate and sports mogul married to a Wal-Mart heir (d/b/a Kroenke Sports Enterprises), owned the Denver Nuggets, the Colorado Avalanche, the Colorado Rapids, the Pepsi Center (home to the Nuggets and the Avalanche) and Altitude Sports and Entertainment. These interests violated the NFL's cross-ownership rule. Nevertheless, on August 25, 2010, NFL owners unanimously approved Kroenke as the owner of the franchise contingent upon his eventual divestment of his Colorado sports interests. Kroenke complied with the rule when he transferred ownership of the Nuggets, Avalanche, the Pepsi Center, and the Altitude to his son Josh.
2010–14: Sam Bradford & Jeff Fisher
For having the worst record at 1–15 in the NFL, the Rams obtained the #1 overall draft pick for 2010 and used it to acquire University of Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford.
Bradford was the main focus of the 2010 off-season. In order to make room for the new QB, Keith Null and several other unproductive players were cut from the roster. The Rams lost their season opener against the Cardinals with Bradford throwing three interceptions, including one on the last play of the game. The Rams recored their first win by beating Washington and ending a 17-game home losing streak in Week 3. In Week 4, the Rams ended an 8-game losing streak against Seattle by beating them 20–3. After being trounced 44–6 by Detroit, they returned home in Week 6 to beat San Diego 20–17. Bradford continued to show promise through the season despite struggling from his inexperience. The Rams were 7–8 by Week 16 and would have been eliminated from playoff contention but for the fact that the NFC West proved so weak that a division title was still within reach. The NFL then surprised nearly everyone by flexing their season ender with 6–9 Seattle into prime time, on the grounds that the winner would claim the division title (the 49ers and Cardinals had been removed from playoff contention by this time). However, the Seahawks (playing at home in Qwest Field) proved to be a more aggressive, experienced opponent and won the game and the NFC West title easily with a score of 16–6. Bradford went on to win the 2010 Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
The Rams' return to relevance was signaled when the 2011 schedule was released in April and the team received two Monday Night games. However, injuries began accumulating in the preseason and whatever hope 2010 had brought quickly fell apart as they started 0–6, not winning a game until a highly improbable victory over the New Orleans Saints in Week 8. The team finished 2–14, with their only other win being the Week 10 game over the Cleveland Browns. Sam Bradford missed half the season with an ankle injury, and the Rams' offense was rated the worst in the league.
At the conclusion of a poor 2011, Steve Spagnulo and nearly all of the coaching staff were fired except OC Josh McDaniels, who was asked by the New England Patriots to come back during the playoffs (he had been an assistant coach there prior to his abortive stint as Denver Broncos HC in 2009–10). After team-wide coach firings, the Rams ownership and front office hired experienced head coach Jeff Fisher. Fisher would then influence the hiring of new GM Les Snead and an all-new coaching staff including OC Brian Schottenheimer and DC Gregg Williams (with Williams eventually becoming suspended for the entire 2012 season for the Saints bounty scandal).
Despite the fiasco of the 2011 season, St. Louis and their new staff continued with their plans to rebuild the team around Sam Bradford and convinced the Washington Redskins to give up two first and one second-round draft pick in exchange for the #2 pick they'd received by finishing with the second worst record of the season. As a consequence, the Rams moved down to the #6 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, but were left with an abundance of others for future use.
The Rams started 2012 with low hopes, but the draft trade with Washington confirmed Bradford would be their QB of the future. The team then surprised some by starting off 3–2, their first winning record since 2004. They then lost 3 straight, but rebounded with a solid 4–4–1 finish, including a tie with eventual NFC champion San Francisco, 24–24, at Candlestick Park, to finish 7–8–1, a 5-game improvement over 2011 and an impressive 4–1–1 record in the very competitive NFC West.
In 2013, the Rams finished with a 7-9 record. During the 2014 season, also their 20th anniversary in St. Louis, the team would again miss the playoffs with a 6-10 record. Most notable during the 2014 campaign were the amount of different QB's that started for the team due to injury.
Nick Foles and the final season in St. Louis
On March 10, 2015, the Rams were involved in a rare trade of starting quarterbacks as they traded Bradford along with a fifth-round pick in 2015 to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for the Eagles' Nick Foles along with a fourth-round pick in 2015 and a second round pick in 2016. Foles had a 14-4 record as starter and an impressive TD-INT ratio of 46-17, while Bradford had an 18-30-1 record. On the day of the 2015 draft the Rams traded Zac Stacy, the Rams' 2013 rushing leader, for a 7th round pick to the Jets.
The Rams opened their 2015 season at home against Seattle. In Foles' Rams debut, he threw for 297 yards and a touchdown. Following the dramatic win, Foles struggled against his former divisional rival, the Redskins as the Rams lost 24-10. Foles' accuracy improved the following week but he threw no touchdowns and his first interception as a Ram against the Steelers, dropping the team to 1-2. Following the two losses Foles bounced back, handing the unbeaten Cardinals their first loss of the season. After that game, Foles' problems with turnovers from 2014 started to show, as he completed 11 passes out of 30 for 141 yards, 1 touchdown, and a career high 4 interceptions against the Green Bay Packers. On November 16, Foles was benched in favor of Case Keenum, who would start the remainder of the season.
Leading the team through their turbulence was rookie RB Todd Gurley. Gurley was drafted 10th overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. Gurley, who tore his ACL his November 2014, saw his rehabilitation go ahead of schedule and during the team's preseason, while he did not play, he practiced without pads on. Soon after, Gurley was medically cleared for full contact by St. Louis team physicians. On Sept 27, 2015, he made his NFL debut against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was eased into action and finished the game with 6 rushes for 9 yards. The following week, the Rams visited undefeated Arizona for an NFC west divisional matchup. Again Gurley started slow with just 2 yards at halftime, but rushed for 144 yards in the second half as the Rams edged the Cardinals 24-22. The next three games against the Packers, Browns, and 49ers would see Gurley rush for at least 128 rushing yards per game. He scored his first NFL touchdown on Oct 25th, 2015 against the Cleveland Browns. With 566 yards in his first four NFL starts, Gurley became the most prolific rusher in his first four NFL games since the AFL–NFL merger. In Week 15, Gurley became the third rookie in Rams history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season after Jerome Bettis and Eric Dickerson in the Rams 31-23 victory over the Buccaneers. and in their 23-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks and becoming the second Rams rookie to rush for 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns since Eric Dickerson in 1983.
The Rams played their final home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, on December 17, 2015. While the Edward Jones Dome was not at sell out capacity, a sizeable group of Rams fans attended the game, holding signs that read "Keep the Rams in St. Louis." Enthusiastic chants of "Keep the Rams" and "Kroenke Sucks" were heard during and after the game. Despite offensive production from Tampa Bay, the Rams still managed a 31-23 victory with Case Keenum throwing for 234 yards and 2 touchdowns, Todd Gurley rushing 48 yards, Tavon Austin rushing 32 yards and a touchdown, Kenny Britt receiving for 71 yards and 1 touchdown, and Jared Cook receiving for 64 yards. The Rams offense dominated this game as well the defense also put pressure on the Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston.
On December 22, 2015, Todd Gurley along with fellow Rams players Aaron Donald and Johnny Hekker were selected to be part of the 2016 Pro Bowl. Gurley was one of three rookies to be selected to the Pro Bowl, along with Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters and Seahawks wide receiver and kick returner Tyler Lockett. The Rams concluded their season with two road games in the West, winning 23-17 against the Seahawks and losing 19-16 in overtime against the 49ers. Overall, the team finished their final season in St. Louis with an 8-8 record.
Stadium problems; return relocation to Los Angeles
Stadium issues in St. Louis
The Rams and the St. Louis CVC began negotiating deals to get the Rams home stadium, the Edward Jones Dome into the top 25 percent of stadiums in the league (i.e., top eight teams of the 32 NFL teams in reference to luxury boxes, amenities and overall fan experience). Under the terms of the lease agreement, the St. Louis CVC was required to make modifications to the Edward Jones Dome in 2005. However, then-owner, Georgia Frontiere, waived the provision in exchange for cash that served as a penalty for the city's noncompliance. The City of St. Louis, in subsequent years, made changes to the scoreboard and increased the natural lighting by replacing panels with windows, although the overall feel remained dark. The minor renovations which totaled about $70 million did not bring the stadium within the specifications required under the lease agreement; thus, keeping the Dome in a state of uncertainty. On February 1, 2013, an Arbitrator (3 panel) selected to preside over the arbitration process found that the Edward Jones Dome was not in the top 25 percent of all NFL venues as required under the terms of the lease agreement between the Rams and the CVC. The Arbitrator (three panel) further found that the estimated $700 million in proposed renovations by the Rams was not unreasonable given the terms of the lease agreement. Finally, the City of St. Louis was ordered to pay the Rams attorneys' fees which totaled a reported $2 million.
Publicly, city, county and state officials have expressed no interest in providing further funding to the Edward Jones Dome in light of those entities, as well as taxpayers, continuing to owe approximately $300 million more on that facility. As such, if a resolution is not reached by the end of the 2014 NFL season and the City of St. Louis remains non-compliant in its obligations under the lease agreement, the Rams would be free to nullify their lease and go to a year-to-year lease. Months later, the Rams scheduled to play in London, which violates the Edward Jones Dome's terms of lease.
On January 5, 2015, the Los Angeles Times reported that Stan Kroenke and Stockbridge Capital Group are partnering up in developing a new NFL stadium on the Inglewood property owned by Kroenke. The project will include a stadium of 80,000 seats and a performance venue of 6,000 seats while reconfiguring the previously approved Hollywood Park plan for up to 890,000 square feet of retail, 780,000 square feet of office space, 2,500 new residential units, a 300-room hotel and 25 acres of public parks, playgrounds, open space and pedestrian and bicycle access. The stadium would likely be ready by 2018. In lieu of this, St. Louis countered with a stadium plan for the north riverfront area of downtown, with the hope of keeping the Rams in the city.
City of Champions Revitilization Initiative; Los Angeles Entertainment Center
On January 31, 2014, both the Los Angeles Times and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Rams owner Stan Kroenke purchased approximately 60 acres of land adjacent to the Forum in Inglewood, California. The purchase price was rumored to have been between $90 million and $100 million. Commissioner Roger Goodell represented that Mr. Kroenke informed the league of the purchase. As an NFL owner, any purchase of land in which a potential stadium could be built must be disclosed to the league. Kroenke subsequently announced plans to build an NFL stadium on the site, in connection with the owners of the adjacent 238-acre Hollywood Park site, Stockbridge Capital Group. This development has further fueled rumors that the Rams intend to return its management and football operations to Southern California. The land was initially targeted for a Walmart Supercenter, but Walmart could not get the necessary permits to build it. Kroenke is married to Ann Walton Kroenke who is a member of the Walton family and many of Kroenke's real estate deals have involved Walmart properties.
On January 5, 2015, the Los Angeles Times reported that Stan Kroenke and Stockbridge Capital Group are partnering up in developing a new NFL stadium on the Inglewood property owned by Kroenke. The project will include a stadium of 80,000 seats and a performance venue of 6,000 seats while reconfiguring the previously approved Hollywood Park plan for up to 890,000 square feet of retail, 780,000 square feet of office space, 2,500 new residential units, a 300-room hotel and 25 acres of public parks, playgrounds, open space and pedestrian and bicycle access. The stadium would likely be ready by September 2018. On February 24, 2015, the Inglewood City Council approved the stadium plan and the initiative with construction on the stadium planned to begin in December 2015. On December 21, 2015, Construction was officially underway for the stadium on the Hollywood Park site. 
Filing for relocation; Houston meetings
On January 4, 2016, the St. Louis Rams filed for relocation to move to the Los Angeles area for the 2016 NFL season. They are among the three teams (the other two teams are the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers) that have filed for relocation to Los Angeles. All three franchises have previously played in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Weeks later, the NFL owners gathered in Houston for a meeting on January 12, a meeting that decided the end of the Los Angeles race. A few days before the scheduled owners meeting, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones suggested that the St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers should share Stan Kroenke's Los Angeles Entertainment Center. This suggestion was taken as a possible option discussed in the Houston meetings. During the Los Angeles meeting, the Committee on Los Angeles Opportunities, which consists of six NFL owners, favored the Carson project over the Rams' Inglewood project. However, in the first round of voting during the meeting, the Rams and the Inglewood proposal got the greater amount of votes, with the Inglewood project receiving 21 votes and the Carson project receiving only 11 votes. However, the Rams did not meet the required 24 votes. In the second round of voting, the Inglewood proposal got 20 votes while the Carson proposal got only 12 votes. After hours of finding a compromise, the Rams relocated to Los Angeles, effectively ending the team's 21-year tenure in St. Louis, with the Chargers having the first option to join them (If the Chargers decline to exercise their option the Raiders also have this option).
- History of the Cleveland Rams
- History of the Los Angeles Rams
- History of the St. Louis Cardinals (NFL)
- St. Louis Gunners
- St. Louis All-Stars
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