Once the news broke Tuesday that the St. Louis Rams were heading back to Los Angeles, local Rams fans throughout the region took to Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms to spew venom at Rams owner Stan Kroenke.
One Facebook post came from Scott Seipp, a baseball assistant coach at O’Fallon High who also works for BSN Sports. Seipp talked about breaking the news that the Rams were leaving to his 6-year-old son, Kannon.
“I remember when (Bill) Bidwill moved the Cardinals (to Arizona) but I guess I wasn’t old enough to realize the enormity of it,” Seipp wrote. “Extremely tough to explain to a 6-year-old sports freak. For me, camping out overnight during the playoffs to get a good tailgating spot with Bob Biver, running up $500 tabs at Sundecker’s watching the games ... going to the Super Bowl in New Orleans, I could go on and on.
“I hope we eventually get an NFL team back with a good owner who wants to be a part of the community of St. Louis and contribute to it. I want my kids to be able to enjoy the things we all did when the Rams were good from ’99-02.”
Rams fans were not a bit pleased to see the team they had invested time, emotions and money in during the past 21 years headed back to California. Sure, St. Louis was the beneficiary the last time when the Rams moved from California, but this time St. Louis is losing its second NFL franchise since the 1987.
Among the unhappy St. Louisans was Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning, a goaltender formerly with the Blues. Here’s what Bishop had to say on his Twitter account after posting a 4-0 over the Kroenke-owned Colorado Avalanche in Denver.
“Feels good to shutout Kroenke’s hockey team the day he moves my childhood football team! Sad day for Rams fans!!”
Dr. Mike Guignon Jr., an internal medicine senior resident at St. Louis University Hospital from Belleville, is a longtime season-ticket holder who proudly wore his Robert Quinn Rams jersey to every game.
Not only that, the 30-year-old Guignon also wore a pair of game-used gloves that Quinn had given him.
“I never was really old enough to understand when the Cardinals left, so I basically grew up with Rams football,” said Guignon, who played football at Althoff High School. “For all of a sudden not to have anything to do on Sundays is really disheartening.
“The way the NFL handled this and everything, I have zero interest in them. They led the city along with an emotional roller coaster that pretty much wasn’t necessary at all. I feel like we’re just a total pawn in their game.”
“Like most I’m quite agitated by the Rams leaving. What’s so particularly galling is all of the words and actions meant to dupe us into supporting a team that was gearing up to kick us hard in the backside. It’s very similar to the same aggravation I had when (Albert) Pujols left. He said over and over it wasn’t about the money, then left for the money.
“I got past Pujols leaving pretty quick. In hindsight he did the team a favor. I’m hoping the same will happen with the Rams departure. Instead of wasting energy being angry at the team and the NFL, I intend to give the NFL attention only when it suits me. I will not make time to watch games, nor will I purchase any NFL related items. I realize this won’t bring the owners to their knees, but I will be happy knowing I’m not supporting them either. I’ll spend my attention on the St Louis Football Club instead.” — Rob Rolves, Albers
After listening to his customers threaten to burn or destroy their Rams gear and other items Tuesday night when the news broke, Pitchers Sports Pub co-owner Lloyd Cueto came up with a better solution.
Cueto said Pitchers, located at 104. W Main St., in Belleville, will be accepting donation of Rams gear, clothing and bedding for the rest of this month. All usable items will be donated to local charity organizations.
A special event remembering the Rams and their time in St. Louis is set for noon-10 p.m. Sunday at Pitchers. While fans can watch NFL playoff games, they also will be treated to a DVD showing of the Rams’ Super Bowl championship victory over Tennessee.
Among the customer-friendly events are game of “Pin the Toupee on Stan Kroenke” and a dartboard featuring Kroenke’s picture.
“It’s a fun event in the midst of the NFL outlets and a healthy outlet to let their anger out about Stan Kroenke and the other NFL owners,” Cueto said. “It’s a way to take that negative energy and turn it into a positive.”
“You always heard about the stadium being an issue and the attendance was down. After they started talking about developing a plan for a new stadium and getting the funding, I didn’t think there was a chance they would move.
“I am a huge football fan, I love football. I wish it was still here, but I will not be rooting for the Los Angeles Rams. I will be looking for a new NFL team to watch and root for.” — Kyle Muskopf, Millstadt
Millstadt resident Alex Pellmann, a 24-year-old project engineer for St. Louis Bridge, took his Rams relationship seriously.
“It’s just like an empty feeling now,” he said of their departure. “It’s something that I’ve grown up with for my entire life. The Rams are the NFL that I know, so it’s kind of like a little piece of me that’s going to be gone.”
Pellmann said he and his friends went to games once or twice a season in recent years, but he had decided on buying PSLs and season tickets if the Rams had stayed.
He will miss the tailgate parties on those early Sunday mornings when a group from Millstadt would travel to St. Louis with a converted rural firetruck painted in blues and gold Rams colors with large Rams logos that served as their home base.
“It was our Rams family, tailgating before the game,” Pellmann said. “It was special, getting up 7 o’lock in the morning, cooking and hanging out with a bunch of people you normally may not see except for Sunday on game days.”
“During Greatest Show on Turf days, I would always take a hand-held TV to watch the game while duck hunting. I would give updates while my dad and friend were watching for ducks.” — Matt Brown of Godfrey.
The Rams may be gone, but Guignon has many happy memories of those “Greatest Show on Turf” days that he shared with his father, Belleville urologist Mike Guignon Sr.
With good seats in the lower section, Guignon was in football heaven at every home game.
“Where our seats were, we actually used to sit by a lot of the players’ wives,” Guignon said. “Mrs. (Brenda) Warner actually sat right in front of us in the preseason (in 1999) and and as the season went on she naturally made her way to the front row.”
When Rams receiver Ricky Proehl made his famous catch that won the 1999 NFC Championship game, Guignon wasn’t too far away.
“We sat right in the end zone about 10 rows back in the corner where the Rams players would come out,” he said. “We were lucky enough to be really close the field.”
Guignon was in eighth grade at Queen of Peace Grade School in Belleville when the Rams won the Super Bowl. Like many other St. Louis area children that year, he attended the Rams’ Super Bowl celebration parade in St. Louis on a frigid afternoon even though they were missing school.
“I was actually pretty sick, I had a sore throat and didn’t feel the best,” Guignon said, “but I told my dad there was no way I was going to miss that.”