The Los Angeles Rams want to be more than Super Bowl champs. They want to be L.A.'s team, which is a much loftier goal than champions of the NFL. The Lakers and the Dodgers run Tinseltown and have for decades.
That's why Stan Kroenke's Rams approach every season like it's their last.
That's why they started the week making a bold move, trading a couple of early-round draft choices to the Denver Broncos for eight-time Pro Bowler Von Miller, arguably the premier edge rusher of the past decade. He'll pair beautifully with arguably the premier inside rusher of all time, Aaron Donald.
Donald and Miller could be the greatest one-two punch in Los Angeles since Shaq and Kobe or Magic and Kareem.
Of course, on the other side of the ball, the Rams cut bait with former No. 1 pick Jared Goff. They shipped him off to Detroit for the strong-armed Matt Stafford, who has shown that he can expand Sean McVay's offense in ways that Goff simply couldn't.
The financial commitment to acquiring Miller is relatively small. The Broncos will pay the majority of Miller's $9.7 million salary for the rest of this year. But the move is symbolic of the mission statement of this franchise
The Rams have one goal — not just to get to the Super Bowl, as they did in the 2018 season, but to win it. Anything short of that will be a letdown. For this franchise, there is no five-year plan. The window is squarely 2021. They'll worry about the subsequent seasons as they come.
It's a far cry from the Rams team that ended up leaving Southern California back in the mid-1990s. Back then, the team was owned by Georgia Frontiere, who took over the reins after the sudden death of her husband, Carroll Rosenbloom, in 1979. After moving to Anaheim Stadium in Orange County, after decades at the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Rams played second fiddle in this region to not just the Lakers and the Dodgers, but the Oakland Raiders, too.
Frontiere's run was relatively successful, but it was marked by a frugal nature.
If I had to compare her ownership to anyone, it would be Rachel Phelps, from the classic baseball movie “Major League.” Phelps' plan was to tank the fictional Cleveland Indians so badly that ticket sales would decline to a point where they could break their lease and move the team to Miami. And as you look back at how the Rams were run, there are some parallels, as they ended up in St. Louis for the 1995 season.
During the 1980s, I was a hard-core Rams fan. To this day, the great Eric Dickerson is one of my all-time favorite athletes. But for as much as I remember his prodigious rushing records, his career was marked by multiple holdouts, the last of which led to a blockbuster trade to the Indianapolis Colts in 1987. That was the day I realized professional sports was first and foremost a business.
Now under the stewardship of Stan Kroenke, the Rams are no longer just a mom-and-pop shop. Their home is the multibillion-dollar SoFi Stadium, a new, glistening, state-of-the-art structure that is a monument to the financial power of the team's owner.
Kroenke understands that Los Angeles has many entertainment and sports options. The Lakers, the Dodgers, the Kings have all won championships this century. And the Clippers are now a serious franchise. The Chargers are a talented squad, but largely an afterthought.
The NFL is the most popular league in America, Los Angeles the number two market. The Rams aren't just trying to lift the Lombardi Trophy. This latest gambit is about being the most important and influential franchise in all of Southern California.
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