2014 DRAFT GUIDE
In St. Louis, football finds fragile foothold

By ALAN SCHER ZAGIER - Associated Press
    2013-10-27 10:29

ST. LOUIS (AP) - The televised spectacle that is Monday Night Football once meant a packed stadium, an enthralled home audience and the sporting nation's undivided attention.

Not in St. Louis, and particularly not this Monday, when the near-dynastic St. Louis Cardinals can anticipate a red army at Busch Stadium for Game 5 of the World Series.

Eight blocks away at the antiseptic Edward Jones Dome - an indoor stadium attached to the city's convention center that the St. Louis Rams say falls far below their needs - the prime-time matchup between the struggling Rams and the Seattle Seahawks will likely feature thousands of empty seats.

The Rams' average home attendance of 55,395 this season is second-worst in the 32-team NFL, ahead of only the Oakland Raiders. On Friday, upper-level tickets could be bought online for as little as $7.

Pro football may have a firm foothold as America's game, but in these baseball-mad parts, the NFL is decidedly second fiddle. And with the Rams' lease set to expire next year and the stadium authority's rejecting a $700 million upgrade sought by the team, fans are girded for the possibility of a second NFL exodus in 30 years. The football St. Louis Cardinals moved to Arizona in 1987, and the city went nearly a decade without a franchise until the Los Angeles Rams arrived in 1995.

''Clearly, the Rams have been terrible and the Cards have been astonishingly good,'' said Jeff Rainford, chief of staff to St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. Rainford said from 2007 through 2011, the Rams compiled the worst five-year record in NFL history, including a one-win season in 2009 and two-win seasons in 2008 and 2011. That 2000 Super Bowl win is a distant memory.

The Cardinals, by contrast, have been a study in consistent excellence, with World Series titles in 2006 and 2011 and playoff appearances in 10 of the past 14 seasons. The team drew nearly 3.4 million fans to Busch Stadium this season, averaging 41,602, the second highest in the MLB. It was the 10th straight season where attendance topped 3 million, and the 17th time in franchise history.

Meanwhile, fan interest in the Rams wanes as their on-field performance and long-term future is shaky. Season attendance declined from 522,608 in 2006 to 396,925 last year, an average of 49,615 in the 66,000-seat dome.

Apathy has grown so strong that the Greater St. Louis Quarterback Club quietly dissolved several years ago.

''I'm the only person left right now,'' club secretary Kathy Danielsen said. ''The Rams haven't been good for so long, I guess they figured, what's the use?''

The Rams can break their stadium lease after the 2014 season or opt for an annual contract after a non-binding arbitration that favored the team's stadium upgrade proposal over a more modest effort sought by local entities was rejected in July. A clause in the Rams' lease requires the local convention group provide the team with a ''first-tier'' stadium - defined as among the top eight of 32 National Football League teams - by 2005, and again by 2015, or 20 years after the building opened.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has taken over negotiations with Rams owner Stan Kroenke, a rural Missouri native who also owns the NBA's Denver Nuggets, the NHL's Colorado Avalanche, Denver's pro soccer and lacrosse teams, as well as the top-flight English soccer club Arsenal in London, where the NFL plays at least one regular season game since 2007.

Kroenke has previously said he wants to keep the team in St. Louis, though his connection to London and the NFL's increased efforts there make some uneasy. Civic and business leaders in Los Angeles are also pushing for an NFL return, but efforts to build a stadium there have stagnated.

Nixon wasn't available for comment late last week, his spokesman said.

''If I had to predict, I'd say they're going to be here,'' Rainford said. ''They don't have any leverage at this point. L.A. is cloudy, and there aren't any other markets stepping forward. I don't detect any sense of urgency on the Rams' part.''

Nor is there much visible sign of outward enthusiasm for the Rams, as the Cardinals again dominate local interest deep into the fall. Ubiquitous ''Let's go CARDS!'' banners hang from restaurant awnings, front doors, highway overpasses and corporate office towers across the city, including at bars and hotels adjacent to the dome.

Even the tony downtown Missouri Athletic Club, billed in a preseason program as ''the official social club of the St. Louis Rams'' and whose members include coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead, had a lobby festooned with red and white balloons as the World Series kicked off.

The Cardinals' dominance - on and off the field - even garners attention in the Rams' locker room, particularly among players who grew up or attended college in Missouri.

''I've been to a bunch of Cards games,'' said kicker Greg Zuerlein, a Nebraska native who attended Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph. ''It seems like they're always there, right near the top. And that's where we want to be.''

---

Follow Alan Scher Zagier on Twitter at http://twitter.com/azagier

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Alfred MorrisNov 23 11:52p

Washington Redskins RB Alfred Morris averaged 6.0 yards per attempt on 21 carries in the Week 12 game against the San Francisco 49ers. It was his first 100-yard game [ More ]

Larry FitzgeraldNov 23 10:32p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald's (knee) sprained knee did not respond as hoped before the Week 12 game against the Seattle Seahawks, so he was inactive. He could well miss more games.

Doug MartinNov 23 10:23p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (ankle) returned to the lineup in Week 12 against the Chicago Bears. He carried 11 times for 27 yards. He was sidelined for [ More ]

Michael FloydNov 23 10:22p

Arizona Cardinals WR Michael Floyd was targeted twice in the Week 12 game against the Seattle Seahawks, but he did not record any catches or offensive statistics.

DeAndre HopkinsNov 23 09:33p

Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins posted five receptions for 39 yards in Week 12 against the Cincinnati Bengals. He is now over 100 receptions for the first time in his career.

Jorvorskie LaneNov 23 09:33p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers FB Jorvorskie Lane (ankle) was carted off in the second quarter of the Week 12 game against the Chicago Bears due to what head coach Lovie [ More ]

Mike EvansNov 23 09:33p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans had three receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown in the Week 12 game against the Chicago Bears. He has now scored at [ More ]

Ryan MallettNov 23 09:33p

Houston Texans QB Ryan Mallett (pectoral) suffered a pectoral injury in the Week 12 game against the Cincinnati Bengals, and he will go for an MRI. He might miss [ More ]

A.J. GreenNov 23 09:22p

Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green posted a career-high 12 receptions for 121 yards in Week 12 against the Houston Texans. 'It's just one of those days when you just [ More ]

Andre SmithNov 23 09:22p

Cincinnati Bengals OT Andre Smith (triceps) suffered a partially torn triceps muscle in the Week 12 against the Houston Texans. He will go for an MRI Monday, Nov. 24.

T Y HiltonNov 23 08:02p

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton was up early Sunday, Nov. 23, for the birth of his daughter, and he promised a touchdown. After his wife delivered their child, he [ More ]

Eddie LacyNov 23 08:02p

Green Bay Packers RB Eddie Lacy (illness) ran 25 times for 125 yards and a touchdown in the Week 12 game against the Minnesota Vikings, and he added two [ More ]

Andrew LuckNov 23 08:02p

Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck completed 21 of his 32 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown in Week 12 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He also ran eight times [ More ]

Charles JohnsonNov 23 08:02p

Minnesota Vikings WR Charles X. Johnson had three receptions for a team-high 52 yards and a touchdown in the Week 12 game against the Green Bay Packers.

Greg JenningsNov 23 08:02p

Minnesota Vikings WR Greg Jennings (rib) had four receptions for 38 yards and a touchdown in the Week 12 game against the Green Bay Packers, his former team. It [ More ]

C. PattersonNov 23 08:02p

Minnesota Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson (ankle, knee) left the Week 12 game against the Green Bay Packers due to ankle and knee injuries.

LeGarrette BlountNov 23 06:52p

New England Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount carried 12 times for a team-high 78 yards and two touchdowns in the Week 12 game against the Detroit Lions after re-signing with the team this week.

Golden TateNov 23 06:52p

Detroit Lions WR Golden Tate had four receptions for 97 yards in Week 12 against the New England Patriots. He went over 1,000 yards receiving for the first time in his career.

Jonas GrayNov 23 06:52p

New England Patriots RB Jonas Gray did not play in the Week 12 game against the Detroit Lions after he did not report to the team's facility Friday, Nov. [ More ]

Timothy WrightNov 23 06:52p

New England Patriots TE Tim Wright played a season-high 60 snaps in Week 12 against the Detroit Lions, which shattered his previous best of 21 snaps, which he hit [ More ]

Kendall WrightNov 23 06:23p

Tennessee Titans WR Kendall Wright was limited to just one catch for 28 yards in Week 12 against the Philadelphia Eagles. That catch did not come until 10 minutes remaining in the game.

Isaiah CrowellNov 23 06:12p

The Cleveland Browns have 14 rushing touchdowns this season, which is the most by the franchise since it had 14 in the 1989 season. The team had just four [ More ]

Zach MettenbergerNov 23 06:12p

Tennessee Titans QB Zach Mettenberger completed 20 of his 39 pass attempts for a career-high 345 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the Week 12 game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Brian HoyerNov 23 05:02p

Cleveland Browns QB Brian Hoyer completed 23 of his 40 pass attempts for 322 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions in the Week 12 win against the Atlanta Falcons.

Josh GordonNov 23 05:02p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon posted eight receptions for 120 yards in his regular season debut in Week 12 against the Atlanta Falcons. He was targeted a game-high 16 times in the win.

Isaiah CrowellNov 23 05:02p

Cleveland Browns RB Isaiah Crowell carried 12 times for game-high 88 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Week 12 game against the Atlanta Falcons.

LeSean McCoyNov 23 05:02p

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy carried 21 times for 130 yards and a rushing touchdown in Week 12 against the Tennessee Titans, and he added one reception for just one yard.

Mark SanchezNov 23 05:02p

Philadelphia Eagles QB Mark Sanchez completed 30 of his 43 pass attempts for 307 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the Week 12 win against the Tennessee Titans.

Darren SprolesNov 23 05:02p

Philadelphia Eagles RB Darren Sproles carried six times for 25 yards and a touchdown in Week 12 against the Tennessee Titans, and he added three receptions for 14 yards.

Dwayne AllenNov 23 12:42p

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) is inactive Sunday, Nov. 23, for Week 12.

Trent WilliamsNov 23 12:32p

Washington Redskins OT Trent Williams (ankle, knee) is not expected to play in Week 12 because of his injuries.

Danny LansanahNov 23 12:22p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Danny Lansanah is moving from strongside linebacker to weakside linebacker in place of LB Lavonte David (hamstring). LB Orie Lemon will start at strongside linebacker.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group