Daniel Wallach, Conduct Detrimental’s co-host, reported that Judge Christopher McGraugh, who presided over every motion from St. Louis and the NFL before the matter settled in November, agreed to hear the St. Louis Post Dispatch’s motion to unseal the court records from that lawsuit. The motion is scheduled for May 13, 2022. Most of the court records, including depositions from Stan Kroenke, Kevin Demoff, among others, are sealed from the public view. Since the St. Louis Post Dispatch motioned for the records to be unsealed, they must convince Judge McGraugh why these records must be unsealed. The NFL and the Rams must convince Judge McGraugh that the records should remained sealed.
The NFL and the Rams may feel like they are at a disadvantage since Judge McGraugh is a circuit court judge in St. Louis, and he dismissed all but one motion the NFL brought forth in his courtroom before they eventually settled the lawsuit with St. Louis. This process is going to be intriguing because if this motion is granted, the public could view the depositions and other sealed documents that could reveal the NFL’s “dirty laundry.” An example is Commissioner Goodell stating the NFL Relocation Guidelines must be followed and are binding; however, he and the Rams did not follow those guidelines when the Rams played their last season in St. Louis in 2015.
According to Ben Frederickson, writer for the St. Louis Post Dispatch and Randy Karraker, 101 ESPN’s Karraker and Smallmon cohost, Kroenke had this plan from the very moment he took over as owner in 2010. His plan took action when he hired Jeff Fisher as the head coach in 2012. Fisher had experience relocating a club, the Houston Oilers to Tennessee, where they were rebranded as the Tennessee Titans.
This was the first sign Kroenke had no intentions to remain in St. Louis, although he told the media in 2010 that he was a loyal Missourian and would do everything in his power to keep the Rams in St. Louis. In 2014, after Rams quarterback Sam Bradford tore his ACL in a preseason game, he called COO Kevin Demoff to see the Los Angeles site that eventually became SOFI Stadium to see how marvelous the site was, and how he had dreams to bring football back to Los Angeles.
The attorneys for St. Louis’ legal team discovered Kroenke made a conference call to Roger Goodell and other owners about his Los Angeles plans as early as 2013. Kroenke did not care about winning in St. Louis, the only thing he won there was the arbitration battle for renovations to the then named Edward Jones Dome. He and the Rams asked for a $700 million renovation, but St. Louis asked for a $125 million renovation.
The Rams’ lease with the Regional Stadium Authority, who owns and operates the now named Dome at America’s Center, could be broken after twenty years if the Dome was not in the NFL stadiums’ top tier. Top tier means the top twenty-five percent. The Dome was among the worst stadiums in the NFL. This clause allowed Kroenke to break the lease and file for relocation. With help from Dallas Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones, on January 12, 2016, he and the Rams could move to Los Angeles after thirty owners voted in favor for Kroenke’s stadium plan.
Should Judge McGraugh grant the motion, this could show what truly occurred leading up to the relocation. This motion is a tremendous deal for St. Louis, and it could reveal evidence that may have been revealed had this case gone to trial.