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While more than half of the NFL became unwatchable, Stan Kroenke rebuilt the Rams

Say what you want about the Rams owner, the teams is one of the NFL’s greatest shows on earth again

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

LA Rams owner Stan Kroenke has found himself in hot water with many other NFL owners this week after reportedly having his lawyers notify the league that he intends to challenge an indemnification agreement that forces him to pay every team’s legal bills in an ongoing lawsuit with the city of St. Louis.

But ...

At least ...

The Rams ...

Don’t suck.

Like so many other NFL teams seem to suck right now.

Perhaps none more — no definitely none more — than the Houston Texans, Los Angeles’s opponent this Sunday. The Texans came into the year with an ownership history that already has a checklist of questionable moments, but I’m not here to talk about anything other than football.

I love football. I love watching football. We gather in places like this, or on Twitter, or Facebook, or bars, because we love watching football. There is probably no greater power in all of American television than the National Football League, and college football is not far behind. With so many other pastimes of entertainment seemingly crumbling or changing around us on a day-to-day basis, from a night at the movies to “must-see TV” and longform television, the only institution that continuously crushes every other piece of content is the NFL.

Why?

Because many millions of Americans love watching football.

If Thursday night’s game between the Cardinals and Packers has a “bad night” for the league, it will mean that they only draw about 15 million viewers, which would be more than the 8 PM time slot for NBC, ABC, and CBS combined on Wednesday night. That’s on a bad night.

We can’t all agree on what to watch and when to watch it — except for the football game.

And if millions of people tune into a football game, it’s reasonable to assume that more people will appreciate it if it is a good game between two good teams. This is a part of sports that sort of gets lost in the process of talking about “tanking” or “rebuilding” or “being balanced” or “having a good defense” and so on and so forth, which is:

Do I want to watch your team play football?

I, Me, You, Us, and Everyone wants to watch the 2021 LA Rams play football. If that wasn’t true, the NFL wouldn’t put them on primetime five times.

People, fans, and the city of St. Louis can say anything they want about Stan Kroenke the person, or Stan Kroenke the businessman, or Stan Kroenke the Arsenal owner, or Stan Kroenke the father, the son, and the Holy Grail...none of that means anything to me.

Stan Kroenke, the owner of the Rams, became full owner in 2010 at a time when it was the worst team in the league, and over the course of a decade the franchise kind of brilliantly made it through the Jeff Fisher era to become one of the greatest teams to watch in the league again.

It doesn’t really matter how he did that or how much of an influence he had on the personnel decisions, Kroenke was not the type of owner who interfered with those decisions like so many others wont to do. It’s funny that Jerry Jones is the one standing closest to Kroenke through this ordeal, not only because of his personal financial gain with regards to Los Angeles, but also because these could be the two more “cartoonish” villains in how they’re portrayed by fans like money-grubbing train robbers holding dollar bag signs.

But in another way, Jerry Jones and Stan Kroenke are two of America’s greatest modern day showmen — they just don’t look much like Hugh Jackman. This is by far the most popular sport or television show in the country and Jones, Kroenke are directly responsible for two of its most elaborate stadiums, and as of 2021, its most watchable teams.

The Rams and Cowboys are entertaining.

The Texans, are not. They are tanking. And while that reality is not a burden that needs to be put on the shoulders of the players or coaches — they’re doing their jobs to the best of their abilities — it is one that ownership can take responsibility for.

To be talking about how the Rams owner is a problem for the league at a time when the Rams are fun, exciting, star-studded, and winning, bringing in millions of more viewers to games than most of their counterparts, is both understandable and misguided. Especially if we aren’t talking about the teams that are intentionally avoiding putting a good show on display.

I vent more about this in the latest preview episode of the Turf Show Times podcast. I couldn’t help but get this one off my chest—subscribe for more eps like this.