Photo via STLToday.com
A new development in the St. Louis v. the NFL et al. lawsuit emerged when the plaintiff’s legal team filed a motion to depose Rams owner Enos Stanley “Stan” Kroenke for a second time, but this time on video. This lawsuit is five years in the making, and the plaintiffs claim the NFL fraudulently misrepresented them by telling St. Louis they had a chance to keep the Rams. Judge McGraugh granted this motion on October 28th, as reported by Corey Miller from KSDK Channel Five, the local NBC station in St. Louis. This motion was filed after ESPN investigative journalist, Seth Wickersham, wrote about the thirty-two NFL owners turning on each other and creating a “civil war” amongst them at the first owners’ meeting held in person since 2019. Mr. Wickersham reported that John Mara, the New York Giants owner, stated that if Mr. Kroenke did not agree to indemnify the other owners, they would not have approved his project and let the Rams leave St. Louis. To get to Los Angeles, the NFL needed an owner who was worth billions, and Mr. Kroenke, along with his wife Anne Walton, the heiress to Walmart, are approximately worth $6-$7 billion, according to Forbes.
The only Stan Kroenke supporter Wickersham listed is Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones. Jerry Jones became the lead proponent at the NFL Owners’ Meeting on January 12th, 2016 to push for the NFL owners to vote for Kroenke’s Inglewood project rather than Dean Spanos’s and Marc Davis’s Carson project to move their respective franchises, the Chargers and Raiders from San Diego and Oakland respectively. The NFL Relocation Committee voted in the Carson’s project favor, 5-1. However, the owners voted for the Rams relocation to Los Angeles 30-2, and the owners conducted this vote secretly. According to Randy Karraker, Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk’s host, and other media members, this was a first in the NFL’s history. Mr. Karraker reported the Cardinals, owned by the Bidwill family, and the Panthers, then owned by Jerry Richardson and now owned by Dave Tepper, voted for the Rams to stay in St. Louis.
The plaintiffs moved to videotape Mr. Kroenke’s second deposition after Seth Wickersham reported Mr. Kroenke is threatening to abandon the indemnification agreement he signed when he agreed to the relocation terms in 2016. Also, the public is starting to pay attention to this lawsuit. The plaintiffs are without head attorney Bob Blitz because he was dismissed by Judge McGraugh as a lead attorney. Judge McGraugh dismissed him because he, along with former Anheuser-Busch president Dave Peacock, led the task force to keep the Rams in St. Louis, as reported by the St. Louis Post Dispatch and other media markets. He is still a key figure in this lawsuit as a witness, which requires its own story.
The plaintiffs will depose Stan Kroenke a second time, and on videotape, to capture his movements so they can see how he would act as a witness. There is little doubt he is going to be called to the stand on January 10th, 2022, should this case go to trial. They need to know his monetary records, since Judge McGraugh approved the plaintiffs’ motion for punitive damages back in July, as multiple sources reported. First reported by Mike Florio and Randy Karraker, later confirmed by Benjamin Albright, NFL insider for the Denver Broncos, among other sources, the defendants could settle by giving St. Louis an expansion franchise. Different sources mentioned on 101ESPN and Pro Football Talk that the defendants, should they lose at trial, may have to pay an. estimated judgment between $8-$12 billion. The plaintiffs, by deposing Mr. Kroenke a second time on video, can move not only one step closer to a trial, but possibly closer to a settlement.
Alex Patterson is a 3L at Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan. He played football for seventeen years as an offensive and defensive lineman. He graduated from Lindenwood University-Belleville in 2018 with a Bachelor's in Sports Management. He can be followed on Twitter @alpatt71.