Los Angeles Rams Owner Stan Kroenke has had an interesting change of heart regarding media policy in recent weeks.
After going out of his way to avoid/ban/negate/truncate any involvement with media covering his team for years, he has been pretty loquacious since the team relocated to Los Angeles.
First, Kroenke spoke at the 2016 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference on their "Evolution of Ownership" panel where his most notable comments were regarding his opinion on spending in the global soccer market worded so poorly that it sounded like he didn't want his team in the Premier League, Arsenal, to win the championship. Perhaps of more relevance to Rams fans was that he relayed that the most important lesson he's learned that he can translate to the Rams is the value of brand, a lesson he's already on the way to implementing with his NFL property.
Then in the run up to the 2016 NFL Draft, Kroenke spoke to the NFL Network about...football. A legitimate unicorn of the modern age.
Unbelievable as it was, Kroenke was back in the media mix again late last week speaking to USA Today Sports. This time though, the topic was a strange recollection of his involvement in the decision to make former Rams QB Kurt Warner the third-string QB heading into the 1998 NFL season and how that had something to do with rookie QB Jared Goff.
It's a tenuous connection and poor speculative marketing and...well, the timing is just incredibly weird, but this is Stan Kroenke talking about football. This is always going to be unusual and unusually odd:
It was the summer of 1998. Warner, who spent that spring in the now-defunct NFL Europe league, was trying to stick as a street free agent at the team's camp in Macomb, Ill., while Kroenke maneuvered in the shadows as a minority owner.
"Dick Vermeil asked me my opinion on who the third quarterback should be," Kroenke recalled during a wide-ranging interview with USA TODAY Sports.
"I had a great relationship with Dick," Kroenke said. "Dick loved Will Furrer, the type of guy we’d all want to marry our daughter. He worked his tail off. Came out of Virginia Tech. I liked Will. Nobody knew anything about Kurt, but I watched the scrimmage, and this is the similarity with Goff: I told Dick, ‘OK, I’ve never played football, but you want my opinion? The kid from Northern Iowa can see. He’s got vision. It’s like a really good point guard. Some guys have it, some guys don’t. Whether it’s Arena Football that gave it to him or whatever, but he can see.’
"And Jared has that. It’s the vision thing."
So that's a thing. The head coach soliciting personnel advice from the minority owner (Kroenke purchased 40% of the franchise during the Rams' relocation to St. Louis in 1995; he went on to purchase the remaining stake in 2010)...ok.
What's perhaps stranger is that the details of how this went down seem a bit, well, murky. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jim Thomas, who has upped the inkwell for his criticism pen as of late, notes the inconsistencies involved here:
Exactly how Kroenke came to his conclusion about Warner’s vision is uncertain. For one, Warner was assigned to the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe that spring, so he didn’t participate in the Rams’ minicamps or OTAs.
For another, even back then as Rams minority owner, Kroenke almost never attended practice. And in preseason that summer, Warner threw all of four passes in exhibition play.
So apparently either Kroenke is a quick study in terms of what little he may have seen on the practice field. Or he was grinding out practice tape or NFL Europe film in his spare time.
It's an interesting time for the Rams as a franchise. Relocating to Los Angeles has provided the Rams with a new fan base eager to digest a product that hasn't been offered in the market in decades. The Rams also have the benefit of selling that product to a population that hasn't been exposed to the lack of positive results in the last dozen years and the misdirection of the franchise at the top, and that includes Kroenke.
Rare as his statements have been, the relocation exposed most of them as dishonest. Such as it is, it really won't matter to the fan base outside of St. Louis if the Rams can put together a winning product.
Assuming that potential outcome is chiefly in the hands of Goff, Kroenke is likely hoping for the comparison to play out to his advantage...regardless of how much advice he may have passed on this time around to Head Coach Jeff Fisher and General Manager Les Snead.