The story of the 2016 Los Angeles Rams was one of abject failure on and off the field. It was also an illusion, a grand lie that required the kind of acting you generally see on a movie set in LA, not on a football field. It was a lie from the beginning.
Now, that story, that lie, will be presented in full as Season 2 of Amazon Prime’s award-winning show “All or Nothing” will focus on the Rams’ first season back in Los Angeles:
The story of the 2016 Los Angeles Rams began in earnest on January 12 when NFL Owners voted 30-2 for the franchise to relocate from St. Louis back to Los Angeles after 21 seasons in the Midwest, itself the culmination of years of lies. Instead of just voicing a sincere desire to move to Los Angeles, the Rams continually put up walls of mistruths, misleading half truths and missed opportunities to tell the truth in an effort to keep the St. Louis market entertained while constantly dangling the prospect of Rams football to fans in Los Angeles.
And yes, things got worse.
There are many questions to be asked of what we’re going to see. There are equal questions to be asked of why we’re going to be able to see it in the first place.
As for the Rams’ season, our own seattlerams asked many of those question on Twitter following the announcement:
Did the Rams honestly believe that they were going to contend with Case Keenum and a rookie QB?— SeattleRams (@seattlerams_nfl) March 31, 2017
In what must be a brilliant marketing ploy, the Rams let the cameras in where there was a big disconnect between the GM and the coach.— SeattleRams (@seattlerams_nfl) March 31, 2017
I'm interested in seeing how heavily edited this show becomes. Will we see Jeff Fisher lying his ass off anytime he is asked a question?— SeattleRams (@seattlerams_nfl) March 31, 2017
Will we get to see how he fucked things up with the Eric Dickerson story? Will we see how he leaked his extension?— SeattleRams (@seattlerams_nfl) March 31, 2017
Will we see him lie about not knowing that Les signed his extension at the same time he did?— SeattleRams (@seattlerams_nfl) March 31, 2017
Instead, the Rams are going to show the world the inner workings of a bad franchise run by a delusional coach that the game long passed by.— SeattleRams (@seattlerams_nfl) March 31, 2017
I’m also interested to see if they capture the pre-draft stuff in the lies that both Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher and GM Les Snead ran with at the behest of the NFL that they didn’t know who they were going to take #1 overall when they, of course, knew who they were going to take. I’m also eager to see how things played out leading up to Jared Goff’s first start after declaring that he wouldn’t do so until the Rams were out of playoff contention before giving him his first start after just one more game when the Rams weren’t out of playoff contention.
All of those factors and more are certainly interesting. What’s more interesting to me is the fact that this even exists.
Consider that, along with HBO’s Hard Knocks and E!’s Hollywood and Football, this is the third reality show centered around the 2016 Los Angeles Rams, a team that went 4-12 that sat their #1 overall QB for two months and then trotted him out midseason to go 0-7 leading the NFL’s worst offense in one of the worst rookie seasons ever. Does that sound like something the average fan wants to watch?
This season of Hard Knocks was universally panned, and rightly so. The format had felt stale for a while, but the conceit of the show only works if you buy into the idea that this is a legitimate NFL team getting ready to compete in that NFL season. Nobody was buying into the Rams being able to compete save for those Rams fans in the annual bubble who only see spectacularly positive outcomes (Jared Goff ROY! Todd Gurley leading the league in rushing! PLAYOFFS!), thus the entire season just felt like an exercise in strange exhibitionism. That was never the true joy of the show in the first place, which left viewers forcing themselves to cling to William Hayes’ “dinosaur and a mermaid” bit on multiple episodes.
As for Hollywood and Football...did anyone besides me actually watch every episode? It was special. I don’t think I ever even wrote it up for the site because it was just so hollow. If anything, I prefer players to be able to maintain private lives away from the fans. There’s something uncomfortably voyeuristic about watching Kenny Britt, Lance Kendricks, Chase Reynolds and their families along with Rodger Saffold’s wife (Saff was decided to keep partying in Vegas in the episode) host a barbecue. Perhaps because I actually like the football part of football I’m not seeing the attraction. The show’s ratings didn’t help explain it either as it flopped. Hard.
So now we have All or Nothing, what will be an amazingly well produced, 10-episode documentary of failure and dysfunction. Sure, we’ll cringewatch. And perhaps it will draw a decent audience interested in the schadenfreude of watching the Rams catapult themselves through the season marked by so many mistakes and missteps. But is that what the Rams want? Is that what the NFL really wants?
Back in 2015, I wrote that the Rams didn’t prioritize winning. They didn’t then, and they don’t now. To be fair, I understand why. The effort to move the Rams to LA and develop what will be a global economy-changing project IS more important than winning football games. On top of which, Rams Owner Stan Kroenke can not only make money but make more money with his product without having to win. The revenue structure of the NFL is such that even if attendance dwindles, he’ll still rake more revenue in year over, so there’s not a huge incentive to spend his time and focus on building a winning product.
It just sucks as a fan. The Rams haven’t posted a winning season since 2003, the longest annual winless streak in the NFL. That likely won’t change in 2017.
Last summer at Variety and Sports Illustrated’s inaugural Sports and Entertainment Summit in LA, Rams COO Kevin Demoff spoke about what is the organization’s top priority:
I think sports and entertainment have become one and the same. In this world now that we have, content in any form whether it’s sports, movie, a digital short [or] social media, content all blends together. I look at our franchise now as a content production company. We do 16 Sundays a year. We do the draft. We do the offseason. We do training camp. We produce a lot of content, and I think our games are just an extension of that. They’re the most visible portion of our content, but I think it’s starting to seamlessly blend together. And now when you look at the NFL coming back here, I think one of the key’s, Stan’s vision, was the 298-acre sports entertainment district, a 6,000-seat theater attached next to the stadium, a whole entertainment district very similar to LA Live but larger in the sense that it had to be just more than football. You had to give people a reason to come down.
The Rams have, as an organization, focused on giving people reasons to come down that weren’t related to a positive on-field product. They sold the façade of a good football team to Los Angeles and watched as huge crowds flocked to the initial opportunities to see NFL football up close at training camp and throughout the preseason. Those numbers faded down the stretch, understandably. Should the Rams put up another 4-12 season without the novelty of NFL football and now competing for attention from the Los Angeles Chargers, those numbers will continue to fade, again understandably.
At the end of his remarks at the conference, Demoff alluded to the need to win in order to sell the entire package:
The most important entertainment is going to be winning on the field. I think that’s your mix. That’s your content. And that’s how you’ll seamlessly blend in the star power. I think you don’t see a ton of teams that are traditional losers that have great star fans. And I think it starts and ends with having a great football product.
This summer, we’re going to get an up close look at a horrible football product. We’ll see just how capable the NFL is at selling it to the average fan.
The Rams worked hard to get themselves to LA and to get themselves on TV at every turn. Selling themselves as something other than a 4-12 team with the worst offense in the NFL was just pre-production.
The Rams are truly back in LA.