For a couple of months now, I've tried to demonstrate either in writing here at TST or on podcasts or Twitter that the Rams foremost priority isn't winning football games.
Whether it's entertaining extending a head coach that has yet to provide a single winning season in four years despite one of the greatest draft hauls of all time or sacrificing a home game in each of the next three years or whatever shenanigans the Rams are messing with at the most important position in all of sports, we've got plenty of evidence that winning isn't Priority #1.
The obvious question that gets asked so often in response is what the Rams main priority is if it's not winning. A new piece in the UK's Guardian by Les Carpenter explains it perfectly.
Titled Could the LA Rams become the NFL's first truly global team?, Carpenter lays out how Los Angeles Rams Owner Stan Kroenke has a vision to make the Rams "not only to be LA’s football franchise but Asia’s, Central and South America’s and Europe’s NFL team as well."
As Rams COO Kevin Demoff explains in the piece:
I think in Stan’s vision, Los Angeles and London are on-par as world class cities, and you can link those opportunities with the Denver opportunities for an international platform...That was the thought with Los Angeles.
Carpenter goes on:
...Being international doesn’t even mean leaving California. The Rams and the NFL see LA’s vast and diverse immigrant communities as a key to their global ambitions. Waller said the Rams will build their name in Hispanic and Asian neighborhoods, hoping to create a foundation of fans who have moved to LA from other countries and can talk about the Rams to friends and family in their former homeland.
Both the Rams and the NFL talk about Los Angeles as a gateway to Asia. The league has long wanted to establish themselves in China, Japan and Korea, but have not had the success of their ventures in the UK primarily because they haven’t been able to play games in those countries. Nine years ago the NFL cancelled a pre-season game between Seattle and New England when logistics proved too difficult and the league chose to focus on London. All these years later, they believe they ready to make a push and they hope to use a Los Angeles team to do so.
Demoff pointed out that the Inglewood stadium is only four miles from Los Angeles international airport, and the most common flight path takes planes only a few blocks south of the stadium as they land. With several flights landing daily at the airport from Asia he said he imagines that the first glimpse many of those passengers will get of the US is the Rams stadium out their window.
"When they fly over they’ll say: ‘Look at that stadium,’" he said.
This is Priority #1.
Stan Kroenke wants to export the Rams as the face of the NFL to the rest of the globe. Nothing on the macro level matters more than this to him. And let's be honest. It's his property. As long as the NFL doesn't stand in the way (and clearly, by allowing him to relocate the franchise, they're not going to at this point), he's going to do everything he can to push the team's brand internationally.
As Carpenter explains:
...Kroenke’s vision is not regional. And as much as having a football team in a city as big as Los Angeles gives him a chance to sell his NFL and Premier League franchises together, his Rams are interested in more than just the US and UK. Not long after the NFL awarded the LA market to the Rams in January, league officials approached the team about the 2018 China game. The Rams leaped at the chance to go.
Of course, there's one major problem that Carpenter only lightly alludes to in the piece.
Kroenke's teams, especially the Rams, aren't all that good.
The Rams haven't had a winning season since 2003.
The Denver Nuggets have made it past the first round of the NBA playoffs once since Kroenke bought the team in 2000.
The Colorado Avalanche have been to the playoffs just three times in the last decade. They've yet again missed the cut this season.
And Arsenal...poor Arsenal. It's gotten to the point where fans are petitioning to have Kroenke kicked out.
This, of course, is the problem with Kroenke's vision. Nobody wants to support a losing franchise. Lord knows Rams fans have shown a ridiculous level of tolerance just to survive fandom over the last decade. But it's not an exportable commodity. Carpenter only breezes by this fact:
The Rams could not sell themselves internationally from St Louis. While some NFL franchises in smaller US markets like the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers are iconic names known around the world, the St Louis Rams did not resonate globally. As the Los Angeles Rams, they think they have a chance to emerge from the slurry of NFL teams and perhaps build name recognition in other countries.
That the Rams couldn't sell themselves from St. Louis had nothing to do with St. Louis. It had to do with the fact the Rams have sucked for a long, long time. Or, to flip Carpenter's words and add a little context, the St. Louis Rams did not resonate globally because they have lost consistently While some NFL franchises in smaller US markets like the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers are iconic names known around the world because they have won often.
For Kroenke's "vision" to succeed, he's going to need the one thing Rams fans have been begging for for years.
Some winning seasons once in a damn while.