Let’s consider for a second the implications of a story that came out about the Patriots stealing the Rams offensive sets, formations, plays, etc. at the walkthrough practice before the Superbowl in ’02. If the Rams win as most expected then Mike Martz’s career, Kurt Warner’s career, and many other Rams’ careers go quite differently. Kurt Warner had that and more to say. Meanwhile on the other side of that game, the Patriots don’t start a dynasty, Bill Belichick isn’t referred to as the smartest coach in the NFL, the Patriots aren’t the best run organization, etc, etc, etc. Extrapolate that some years and the Panthers don’t lose, the Eagles don’t lose, even Randy Moss doesn’t force his way to New England instead of Green Bay at the start of this year, and who knows if Green Bay doesn’t go to today’s game with Moss split out wide? The implications are enormous. Even Notre Dame fans upset with Charlie Weis can think about how he probably wouldn’t have gotten the job if he hadn’t been an offensive coordinator for a team winning by cheating. What’s the matter Mr. Weis, the Fighting Irish don’t have the same equipment as the Pats?
Roger Goodell has already come out on this issue however. He shares the denial that any of this affected the outcome of any games. Of course, the Pats deny it too. In fact, Goodell destroyed all the evidence, purportedly to prevent leaks. Forgive me for being skeptical though. Leaks? This is the NFL, a multibillion dollar operation. You can’t buy security for this evidence?
So if the commissioner and the Patriots deny it, at least the organization that had a trophy robbed would want to press it, right? But the Rams have no comment. I said this in IRC yesterday and here’s my guess for the future: they won’t push it. Recently their owner of 19 years, Georgia Frontiere, passed away. She had a 60% stake in the Rams, while Stan Kroenke owns 40%. Her two children Dale Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez will split her 60%, but for convenience sake and so that there is a majority owner, Dale Rosenbloom will hold the full 60%. But there is doubt about his plans with that share. Kroenke can veto sales of that share, so the major likelihood is that Kroenke tries to swing a deal where he buys the other 60%. The major problem to that? Kroenke already owns the Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Avalanche. The NFL has a cross-ownership rule which prevents an owner from having controlling stakes in professional sports franchises in more than one city. But Kroenke has pull. Walmart pull. In the coming months he will likely use that force and try to convince the ownership committee to bend the rules for him to own the Rams. So why would he want to get on Goodell’s bad side by raising a stink?
Additionally, the NFL is almost unique in its revenue-sharing program. (Irony in that article; Bob Kraft saying, “The main issue is allowing everybody to compete.”) So any issue that gets big enough to make the average Sunday fan tune off the NFL affects a TV deal. A future TV deal affects the profit of all 32 owners. Any issue large enough to make the team’s fan not want to shell out $100 bucks for a ticket affects the profit of all 32 owners. There’s just too much money to lose.
In short, with destroyed evidence, the stance of the commissioner, billions of dollars to lose, and the future ownership of the Rams in jeopardy, there’s just no way I can see Kroenke or the Rams as an organization pushing an investigation.
So maybe Congress finally will have something to do besides pick which side of the aisle is going to applaud.