I am surprised at how little I miss pro football in St. Louis.
How little I miss having a hometown team.
How little I miss the Rams.
I’ve learned last year there is plenty to do on Sunday afternoons other than sit in front of the TV and watch NFL football.
Never miss a local story.
Life goes on. Here it is, the first Sunday of the NFL’s regular season, and I don’t know who’s playing who, or where, and really don’t care.
Last spring, I didn’t watch the NFL Draft on TV. For years, I was glued to the draft, helplessly. Sadly. Today, I don’t know who was drafted or traded. No idea.
I’m not a betting man or fantasy league participant. It takes too much time and focus. And interest. I don’t have an interest in pro football. Period.
Sure, I loved watching Kurt Warner get inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame this summer. I hope Isaac Bruce is next, followed by Torry Holt. St. Louis Rams. They’ll tell you what a good football city we had here in St. Louis.
Kurt Warner for president?
Give me the bumper sticker, now!
I’ve wondered whether I’m alone in my disinterest of NFL football. I’m not. Still a little bitter? Sure. We got duped. Never had a chance.
When I think of St. Louis Rams’ fans, I think of my friend, John Messbarger, of Belleville. John and his family are symbolic of thousands of former Rams fans in the Metro St. Louis area who gave their time, money and hearts every Sunday for 20 years.
Messbarger had four Rams season tickets since 1995. He was an original Rams PSL owner. He had season tickets when the Big Red were in town, too, before they left for Arizona after the 1987 season.
John, his family and friends made a full day of Rams game day in downtown St. Louis. Along with the Gary Crean Family, the Messbargers tailgated near the Dome every home game since 1996, only missing one game over two decades. The group always had a theme for its tailgate menu around the city of the opponent.
As John remembers: “We tailgated one late season game where there were only a few folks in our parking lot. It was so cold that our beer was icing and our chili was freezing in the bowl as well. It was me, Johnnie (son), Nic (son), and a buddy of mine. Too cold for everyone else. We created so many memories with family and friends, even during the years with bad football. It never got old.
His favorite memory was the 1999 NFL Championship game against Tampa won by the Rams that earned a trip to the Super Bowl. “We came out of the game against Tampa it was snowing and we popped and consumed champagne to celebrate the victory.”
What he misses most about Sundays is “spending a full day with family and friends, tailgating, eating, drinking, and watching football.”
Like me, he’s still sore about how the Rams’ tenure here ended.
Like it was planned, all along.
Like it was the fans’ fault — the St. Louis fans were not supportive enough for a pro football team.
“The NFL is dead to us,” Messbarger said. “I have not watched one minute of NFL football since the Rams left. The NFL left a void in our family’s Sunday life that will be never be filled.”
There’s no new favorite NFL team in his world. “I have had several friends try to convince me to adopt a team — the (Tennessee) Titans or (Kansas City) Chiefs. (But) I will never support the NFL again, not even if the NFL were to return to St Louis.”
Life goes on. I can ride my bike on Sundays. Play golf, or watch it on TV. Follow college football highlights. Watch a movie. Do nothing.
I’ve often wondered what it would have been like if we had a sound, well-managed, winning organization like the Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots or Minnesota Vikings here in St. Louis.
Remember the St. Louis Stallions expansion team? They’d still be here in St. Louis, too.
In hindsight, where the city of St. Louis fumbled was not building a stadium three decades ago for Bill Bidwill before he moved his Big Red to Phoenix.
None of it matters now.
Good news is we still have the Blues and Cardinals. I’m probably a bigger Blues fan today. And the Cardinals are my baseball team. Let’s take care of our hometown Cards and Blues. Keep them settled. Especially the Blues, because resources are fewer, and the fan base smaller.
Our teams. Give them no reason to seek a new home — ever. Here’s to hoping I never have to write about how much I don’t miss them.