Throughout the season, a Los Angeles Rams fans were left in the dark regarding RB Todd Gurley’s knee.
Something wasn’t right about Gurley for most of the season having injured his knee in Week 1 (a fact Gurley and the Rams didn’t disclose until after Christmas ahead of the final regular season game), but judging from the injury reports, especially in the playoffs, Rams fans had no reasons to be suspicious. If you truly trusted the public comments from the Rams, you had to do mental backflips to figure out how a healthy RB like Gurley could get only ten touches in the Super Bowl.
Whatever reasoning you can come up with is more comforting than my explanation: the Rams are just lying to their fans.
And maybe that’s not a big deal. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that Gurley’s knee was an issue and that’s why he wasn’t a focal point in the postseason — the idea that the Rams lied and kept him off the injury report is less about the fans and any sort of betrayal and more about strategy. The New England Patriots pull stuff like that all the time. And the Rams don’t have to be trustworthy; they just have to be great at football. Transparency is nice to have for governments and marriages, but it’s not integral for sports franchises and their fanbases. When it comes to being honest about a player’s health, many teams operate with sports betting as a bigger factor than the disappointment of their team’s fans.
Now, the Rams were forthcoming about their scheme to split carries with RB C.J. Anderson, but that still felt like a cover for my belief that they were hiding that Gurley’s knee is a train wreck. Man, I hope I’m wrong.
Now, I don’t want to say that trust doesn’t have any value in the relationship between a fan and their team. The Rams are making all sorts of important decisions about the team this offseason and the responsibility for those doesn’t rest with the fans — but fans do need to have faith in the front office.
Take the extremely important subject of uniforms. Fans lobbied, and ultimately successfully, to wear the throwbacks until a new uniform design goes into effect in 2020 when the Rams move into the new stadium in Inglewood. Many die-hard fans are under the impression that come 2020, the colors will be permanently changed to blue and yellow. COO Kevin Demoff has indicated that the Rams are most likely going in that direction. However, before you get that blue and yellow tattoo, ask Rams fans in St. Louis if they still trust Kevin Demoff.
The hard truth of it all is that the Rams have restarted a relationship with Los Angeles after a long break. The Rams have one of the smaller fan bases in the NFL, but it’s growing with every win. So while the city of LA hasn’t promoted the Rams into the cultural tier of the Los Angeles Lakers or Los Angeles Dodgers, things are moving in the right direction. While a recent slight from the LA Times reflects the lack of respect for the Rams’ place in LA, the paper was quick to respond to fans’ outrage over the headline which at least shows that Rams fans do have pull.
So while some dishonesty from the team isn’t exactly a draw for potential fans, you know what is a bigger draw? Winning a Super Bowl next year.
If the Rams want to truly matter in the LA sports landscape, the stakes revolve around wins moreso than being fully honest with fans.
Even if it stings.