You want fight/ You got it. The St. Louis Rams have a nice little message to stick on the bulletin board for a little extra motivation in their home opener this week.
As we mentioned earlier today, ESPN NFL analyst Mark Schlereth had some choice things to say about the Rams on one outlet of that media network's endless feedback, self-generating news loop. Here's his statement that ought to be prominently displayed in the Rams locker room this week:
They [the Rams] are just not very good any way you look at it, all the way around on both sides of the ball. They're not getting it done, they're not competing. Steven Jackson is a supreme running back in this league. Seventeen carries last week for 100 yards. Everything is a shambles.
As fans, the holes this team has are readily apparent, but everything is most certainly not a "shambles." In fact, the organization is making big strides from where it was left after years of neglect and front office power struggles left the roster pretty thin. The record alone does not reflect that. But, record or not, you can see there's no shortage of passion on the field. The players need to translate that into a win this week, and the home opener offers them the perfect venue to put national pundits who don't spend any time examining the Rams before spouting off their preconceived notions that were written down on a note card years ago and recycled over and over again for struggling teams in non-major media markets.
And, I don't want to turn this into a rant about the media, but do stop for second and consider how stuff like this works. ESPN is a big international media network. This is a classic example of how they're using that to leverage ratings in local markets by ginning up a bogus controversy. The offending statement was made on "Mike and Mike in the Morning," a bastion of vacuousness, no small achievement in the world of talk radio. It's worth mentioning that "Mike and Mike" have been suffering particularly low ratings in the St. Louis market. Hmmm, the plot thickens. That story becomes topic du jour on the local ESPN radio affiliate. They bring in Rams GM Billy Devaney to comment, and we've git a genuine controversy. The story then filters onto the web, getting play on ESPN's relevant blogs and on the Post-Dispatch's web page, where several sports columnists have radio shows on ESPN's local affiliate. The PD benefits from this relationship because their columnists can use the radio platform to push the dying newspaper, giving it a few last desperate gasps and prolong the inevitable. Vicious cycle. Good thing TST can set you free.
Whatever. It's a silly non-controversy controversy, even if it does offer an example of the power of a media monopoly. If the Rams can use it to provide a little extra fodder to win this week's game and make schmuck's like Schlereth take notice of the team, it's not entirely a bad thing.