The Los Angeles Rams’ run to the Super Bowl last year was a bittersweet experience for football fans in St. Louis. While most fans were excited to see beloved players win a conference title and challenge for an NFL championship, rooting for the team that up and left the city was a bridge too far for many. In fact, some former Rams fans resorted to the unthinkable: cheering for Tom Brady and the Patriots. Given that the team only moved to LA in 2016, the wounds are still fresh.
The NFL has left and returned to St. Louis before, with the Cardinals leaving for Phoenix in 1987 before the Rams arrived in 1995. Last year, rumors of history repeating itself began to surface. As crazy as it sounds, some believe the NFL’s other newly relocated team, the Los Angeles Chargers, to be candidates to bring pro football back to St. Louis. Why would the league want to do that?
Money, of course. The league assumed that two teams could thrive in LA, but that projection may have been overly optimistic. The Chargers regularly play home games in stadiums where away fans outnumber the Bolts’ faithful. Additionally, Chargers owner Dean Spanos seems to have a prickly relationship with Rams owner Stan Kroenke, and the two teams are supposed to share a mega-facility beginning in 2020. Spanos may be loath to pay rent to Kroenke, so it’s possible the Chargers’ exit will be beneficial for team and league alike.
If the NFL were to return to the city, the question remains whether residents would support them. Fool us once … and so on. St. Louis, though, remains a major national market with a football-loving populace. As such, you can expect the NFL to at least entertain putting a team under the Gateway Arch again.