Peter King's MMQB is running down their top 100 most influential figureheads for the 2015 NFL season and two Rams have made the cut. Well, that's not entirely accurate.
2015 NFL Draft first-round selection RB Todd Gurley
It’s hard to believe the two-year drought without a running back drafted in the first round ended with a player five months removed from ACL surgery. But that’s the kind of talent Todd Gurley is. The combination of power and speed he showed during three seasons at Georgia led some NFL evaluators to proclaim him the best thing to come out of a college backfield since Adrian Peterson—and convinced the Rams to rank him No. 1 overall on their draft board. "You can’t teach the things he was doing," former Bulldogs teammate Malcolm Mitchell says. "Watching tape won’t even help you prepare for playing against him. His power, his speed—he was jumping over people. Everything about his game was impressive." The Rams eagerly made Gurley the No. 10 pick on draft night, believing they can build an offense around him. Now the question is, will he and his knee be able to live up to the lofty expectations, and how soon?
Bear in mind the last time we saw the Rams graced by MMQB was with King extolling the virtues of BFF Jeff Fisher and avoiding any impartial criticism of the team's selection of Gurley with the 10th overall pick. Jenny Vrentas authored the blurb above, so this isn't a condensed version of King's piece. It is, though, central to the Rams' national narrative: there's no there there. Defensive lines aren't sexy enough to capture the national spotlight, and the Rams aren't sexy in general.
Bear in mind Sam Bradford comes in at 23. The 23rd most influential figure in the entire NFL world. Would he have even made the list if he were still a St. Louis Ram? You know the answer as well as I do.
On to the second Rams-related selection in the top 100, one that I would assume most St. Louis-based readers will bristle at in the #8 overall spot:
St. Louis Rams Owner Stan Kroenke
On the last Sunday of May, a few minutes after 6 a.m., an explosion of dynamite pierced the thick smog and rumbled throughout Inglewood, Calif. The Hollywood Park grandstands, the last remnants of an iconic track, crumbled. Horse racing fans across the country mourned, reminiscing on the glamorous past. Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew raced there; stars like Cary Grant, Elizabeth Taylor and Alfred Hitchcock once mingled among the masses. All lasting evidence had vanished, now rubble in a mostly deserted parking lot.
And yet, 75 people lined the fence to watch. Many of them clapped. They took cell phone videos and cheered, as if they were at a rock show. "As sad as it was for some," says Tom Bateman, who drove up from Anaheim for the occasion, "it was a great day for us. It was the first real evidence that football is finally returning to Los Angeles."
Bateman, director of Bring Back the Rams, a fan club in Southern California, is right: St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke has plans to build a futuristic 80,000-seat stadium here and bring his team back to the city the NFL abandoned 20 years ago. On a clean lot, construction can now begin.
Though the Chargers and Raiders have eyed a joint stadium in Carson (presumably as leverage to secure new deals in their respective cities) it is Kroenke who commands the most realistic opportunity for the NFL’s return to the City of Angels. The Rams have not reached an agreement with St. Louis officials to make improvements to the outdated Edward Jones Dome, and the team has an opt-out clause if no deal is made. Kroenke, a billionaire and real estate mogul, bought 60 acres of land in Inglewood and partnered with the neighboring developer to secure nearly 300 acres of prime stadium-building space. Kroenke has the means, the blueprint and, most importantly, the momentum as owners convene for a special meeting in Chicago on Aug. 11 to discuss if a team (or teams) can relocate. Talks at the session should dictate the plan going forward, as the Rams can officially apply for relocation in the coming months.
Rumors and fleeting attempts to bring an NFL team back to Los Angeles have waxed and waned over the last two decades. Under Kroenke’s watch, there is now concrete proof that something tangible is in the works.
I won't disagree with the ranking or Emily Kaplan's justification for it. There's something unsettling, though, about the 8th most influential person for the NFL in 2015 being completely inaccessible to the media, to fans and to the city that supports his business.
It is, no doubt, the biggest storyline for the Rams in 2015, and one that will keep them in the headlines at least for the immediate short-term following the August 11 NFL owner's meeting.
Assuming the Rams' defensive line or Jeff Fisher (don't laugh; it could happen) don't make the top 5, this is where the Rams stand outside of the bubble. A rookie RB coming off of a knee injury and an owner desperately pushing to either move his franchise to Los Angeles or convince everyone that's his ultimate motivation.
Your 2015 St. Louis Rams.