Mike Florio, writer for Pro Football Talk.com, reported Monday that “an expansion team was never on the table as a pre-trial settlement possibility.” The NFL had to suffer an enormous loss at trial, and they also had to lose to Stan Kroenke. When he says the NFL had to lose to Kroenke, he means the NFL had to lose on the indemnity issue, and all 32 owners paid their damages’ share, not Stan Kroenke paying on the owners’ behalf in this case.
Florio further reports “Kroenke’s lawyers were ready to pay more than $790 million to end the case, and that the league’s lawyers intervened. The league drew a hard line at $790 million. They were not paying $800 million and above, and to their surprise, it got the deal done. The question for the attorneys after Stan Kroenke and the NFL offered $790 million was to take $276.5 million (35 percent of the settlement) plus costs now, or to keep fighting and pushing and chasing a pot that may be bigger, the same, or smaller. Florio, a former attorney, believes St. Louis could have received the billion dollars, but as reported by various media outlets, St. Louis, the Convention and Visitors Commission, and the Regional Stadium Authority did not want to risk losing at trial. They chose the safe route to the St. Louisans’ ire.
Ben Frederickson and Joel Currier, sports and legal writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch respectively, covered this lawsuit from beginning to end. They are two among various St. Louis media members who let St. Louis and the national media know what is going on in the Gateway City. They stayed one step ahead to the point that Frederickson and Currier reported the settlement late last Tuesday night before any other media outlet caught wind that the settlement occurred the following morning. The NFL owners are a “mafia,” and they control what happens in the NFL, not Roger Goodell. Goodell makes decisions based on the owners and their best interests, which is what will make them the most money.
“Karraker and Smallmon” from 101ESPN, reported that it sounds like Stan Kroenke is responsible for the entire $790 million settlement. St. Louisans can feel relieved this case is over, or frustrated that this did not go to trial. The realization for St. Louisans is this case received national coverage and the NFL’s “dirty laundry” got released to the public.
Ben Frederickson reported on Tuesday night that Mayor Jones decided to settle because the lawsuit ran its course in her opinion. His article includes Mayor Jones’ decision to accept the settlement. She said: “Well, we [the St. Louis team] all know that when you take things to court, it can be a long process [.]” “We’ve already been in this process since 2017. I felt it was time to put it to rest.” Dan Lust, Dan Wallach, and guest Howard Balzer revealed Mayor Jones’ prior occupation was city treasurer. This quote and her background can mean several things, but the way I construe it is Mayor Jones settled because she had enough and the money was too good to pass up. She was the former treasurer, as “Conduct Detrimental,” along with Howard Balzer, revealed. This may answer some questions why St. Louis settled with the Rams and the NFL fifty days prior to trial.
Dan Wallach, on an interview with Nestor on YouTube, stated the “attorney agreed to settle because their payment is “life-altering.” He told Nestor every equity partner received a “life-altering $10 million as payment for their work on the case. The attorneys worked on this case on a contingency basis. If they win, they get paid, but if they lost, they would not receive a payment. Dan’s fact is almost pro-“attorneys are glad they settled because they got paid” argument.
In the same article, he reported County Executive Sam Page’s reasoning. His reasoning was “the experts that advised them, the county counselor’s office and their outside legal counsel advised them the settlement was a good settlement for St. Louis County and St. Louis City, and that they should accept it and move on.” Those who argue the lawyers were after the money may be right according to Page’s comments, but those who argue the plaintiffs made the decision on their own are right according to Mayor Jones’ comments.
Either way one leans in this argument, this settlement is a win for St. Louis because the NFL and Kroenke paid them nearly $800 million. They exposed the NFL; they showed the league does anything to raise their revenues. They did the same when they moved the Rams to St. Louis in 1995; however, twenty-one years later, they did it behind-the-scenes with a “proper vote.” They knew Stan Kroenke was the only owner who had the pockets to move a team to the nation’s second largest market. Hopefully St. Louisans remember the good times and memories they had while the Rams were in town, and they showed their fandom because they wanted an expansion franchise. This is similar to someone willing to forgive their significant other after they cheated on their partner. They are not only willing to forgive the NFL, but they are willing to welcome them back with open arms. A franchise was not in the cards, but if they pushed for more, they may have received nothing. That is why they did not push for more.
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.