Deep down we had to know the fix was in.
Did we really believe the NFL owners — a cartel of stone-cold and uber-wealthy businessmen — would ever deny the richest among them and block his wish to move the Rams to Los Angeles?
Were we really naive enough to believe a new billion-dollar stadium would out-shine the glitz of Tinseltown and the depth of Stan Kroenke's pockets?
The owners gathered in Houston Tuesday to untangle three teams from three different stadium proposals. Under Kroenke’s glare — “don’t cross me,” he warned them — 30 out of 32 of them went for the bigger money.
And they took our Rams.
Why did we ever allow ourselves to believe that the NFL's policy for relocation is anything more than window dressing and that Kroenke cares about anything more than making himself even richer? We've learned over the last year that both are as much a fabrication as Kroenke's mean-spirited relocation proposal.
I keep coming back to the NFL bylaws that state very plainly the league's policy for relocation: Article 4.3 "confirms that no club has an entitlement to relocate simply because it perceives an opportunity for enhanced club revenues in another location."
What argument can be made that Kroenke's motives in moving were driven by anything other than blowing out the bottom line? Or that he would be putting himself on the road to financial ruin by keeping the Rams in St. Louis?
Really? I mean, really-really?
Kroenke and the NFL could move the Rams to Mulkeytown and make money.
Consider this ...
The NFL salary cap for the 2016-17 season will be about $150 million per team — a $7 million increase over this season. The Rams, and every other team in the league, will receive $226.4 million as its share of the league's national television contract — a $31 million windfall over prior year.
And this ...
Between the 40 percent share of Rams ownership he purchased in 1994 and the controlling shares he snatched out from under Shad Khan in 2010, Kroenke has about $830 million invested in the team. Forbes magazine most recently valued the Rams at $1.45 billion, even with all the uncertainty about where they would play and who would own the stadium.
What would the Rams have been worth with a favorable and stable, long-term agreement in a brand new riverfront stadium?
The answer? Not as much as they'd be worth in Kroenke's super- mega- multi-use complex in Los Angeles.
And this is what makes Kroenke and his band of merry NFL enablers look like some upside-down version of Robin Hood — a gang that takes from the middle class and gives to the rich.
It also reveals, once again, that the NFL and its meaningless relocation guidelines are a fraud.
Consider the contradiction: the one and only team that did not receive some offer of a new stadium or public financing was the Raiders, but Oakland gets to keep its team.
Yet, twice in 25 years, taxpayers here have ponied up to offer the Rams new top-tier stadiums only to be told by Kroenke and Commissioner Roger Goodell that their market is dead and their over-and-beyond efforts were somehow insufficient.
If there is any solace to be found in this disappointing, but ultimately predictable decision, it's that St. Louis will be rid of Enos Stanley "Stan" Kroenke, a Missouri-raised man named after two of the city's greatest sports icons, but who will be remembered here for nothing more than bad football, avarice and his parting kick to the region's gut.
The NFL has likely vacated St. Louis for good, too, which is just as well.
So, goodbye, adios, auf Wiedersehen, au revoir and good riddance.
Both of you.