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

Peyton ManningDec 18 07:22p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (thigh, illness) said his illness is behind him, and he was receiving treatment for his thigh Thursday, Dec. 18. Head coach John Fox called Manning day-to-day.

Roy MillerDec 18 07:12p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have declared DL Andre Branch, CB Jeremy Harris, SS Matt Daniels, DL Roy Miller, CB Teddy Williams, WR Tommy Streeter, OG Tyler Shatley inactive for Week 16.

Tommy StreeterDec 18 07:12p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have declared DL Andre Branch, CB Jeremy Harris, SS Matt Daniels, DL Roy Miller, CB Teddy Williams, WR Tommy Streeter, OG Tyler Shatley inactive for Week 16.

Kendall WrightDec 18 07:12p

Tennessee Titans WR Kendall Wright (hand) is active for Week 16 after being limited in practice all week.

Frank GoreDec 18 07:02p

San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore (concussion) continues through the concussion protocol this week, but head coach Jim Harbaugh anticipates Gore suiting up in Week 16 against the San [ More ]

Julius ThomasDec 18 06:52p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) played just 29 snaps in Week 15; only ten of them were pass routes, according to Pro Football Focus.

Rashad JenningsDec 18 06:12p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) did not practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Carlos HydeDec 18 05:52p

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde (ankle) did not practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

DeAndre HopkinsDec 18 05:42p

Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) did not practice for the second straight day Thursday, Dec. 18.

Blake BortlesDec 18 04:22p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles has earned positive reviews from the team in his rookie season after being thrust into the spotlight early this year. 'That is not the [ More ]

Jay CutlerDec 18 04:12p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler was benched just for this week against the Detroit Lions, according to head coach Marc Trestman. Cutler will be active and serve as the [ More ]

DeAngelo WilliamsDec 18 04:02p

Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (hand) will be fitted cast that he can play with on his injured hand. Williams still has not caught a pass with the injured [ More ]

Rashad JenningsDec 18 04:02p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) has not been able to do any running this week, according to head coach Tom Coughlin.

Ryan MathewsDec 18 03:42p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Cam NewtonDec 18 02:52p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) fully participated in practice Thursday, Dec. 18, and appears to be on track to start in Week 16, according to head coach Ron Rivera.

DeMarco MurrayDec 18 02:42p

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (hand), who was expected to take some team snaps in practice Thursday, Dec. 18, is in no more risk if he plays in Week [ More ]

Cam NewtonDec 18 02:12p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) said he is not dealing with any pain in his back but is taking things one day at a time. Newton said he [ More ]

Peyton ManningDec 18 02:02p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (thigh) left practice early Thursday, Dec. 18, because he is receiving a scheduled day of rest. Manning was not limping when he was walking to the locker room.

LeSean McCoyDec 18 01:32p

Philadelphia Eagles RB Chris Polk appears to have become the team's goal-line back of late, and two of the three snaps he played in Week 15 led to short [ More ]

Chris PolkDec 18 01:32p

Philadelphia Eagles RB Chris Polk appears to have become the team's goal-line back of late, and two of the three snaps he played in Week 15 led to short [ More ]

Cam NewtonDec 18 01:22p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) had an increased set of repetitions in practice Thursday, Dec. 18, and it looks like he's on track to play in Week 16 [ More ]

Rashad JenningsDec 18 12:52p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) is not participating in practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Andre JohnsonDec 18 12:52p

Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson (concussion) has cleared the leagues concussion protocol and will play in the team's Week 16 game.

Julio JonesDec 18 12:12p

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip) is not participating in practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Case KeenumDec 18 10:03a

Houston Texans QB Case Keenum is expected to start in Week 16.

Philip RiversDec 18 09:22a

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers (back) is battling a back injury that is more severe than the team has acknowledged, according to a league source. Rivers' back injury [ More ]

LeSean McCoyDec 18 01:03a

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy opened practice on the sidelines Wednesday, Dec. 17, while RB Chris Polk opened with first-team reps. After practice McCoy did not seem too concerned. [ More ]

Ronnie HillmanDec 18 01:03a

The Denver Broncos are hopeful RB Ronnie Hillman (foot) will be able to return for the Week 16 game against the Cincinnati Bengals Monday, Dec. 22, or for the [ More ]

Drew StantonDec 17 07:33p

Arizona Cardinals QB Drew Stanton (knee) said this injury is different from any other he's ever had, and he said it's too soon to know if he could return [ More ]

Carlos HydeDec 17 07:03p

San Francisco 49ers RBs Frank Gore (concussion) and Carlos Hyde (ankle) did not take part in practice Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Jay CutlerDec 17 06:43p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler will be benched in favor of QB Jimmy Clausen in Week 16 against the Detroit Lions, according to a source.

Jimmy ClausenDec 17 06:43p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler will be benched in favor of QB Jimmy Clausen in Week 16 against the Detroit Lions, according to a source.

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