Call me crazy, I broke down and rooted for the Patriots

Dennis Warden

For the first time in my life I rooted for the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl, and I enjoyed it.

The Super Bowl is the first pro football game I’ve watched this year. It’s a tradition for our family to get together for the big game and enjoy the commercials, some good food and, usually, an exciting game — not this year.

 Since the Patriots are almost always the favorites in any Super Bowl in recent memory I have always rooted for their opponents, the underdogs. The Patriots have won enough. Shouldn’t other teams and towns get some glory?

Not in this case.

You may think I am crazy. You’re thinking Dennis, don’t you remember it was the Patriots who reportedly taped the then St. Louis Rams before Super Bowl XXXVI and went on to win 20-17 in the last seconds of the game?

Well, a lot has changed since that game in 2001, mainly the ownership of the Rams.

In my childhood I was an ardent supporter of the  St. Louis Football Cardinals,  better known as the ‘Big Red.’ I know some of you remember those days. When the ‘Cardiac Cardinals’ would take the field we didn’t know what the outcome would be. The game could end up being a come-from-behind nailbiter, or a frustrating loss in the last seconds.

Some of my friends, Ray and Steve, had the audacity to root for the dreaded Dallas Cowboys. 

In high school our gang would gather together to watch those games. Even though the Cowboys had a better team in the late 70s, the Cardinals, behind Jim Hart, Roger Wehrli, Mel Gray, Terry Metcalf, Jim Otis and Dan Dierdorf, usually managed to win one of the two games we played against our rivals from Texas.

All in all the Cardinals left St. Louis after the 1987 season with 11 winning seasons in 27 years of football and a winning percentage of 48 percent.

When Bill Bidwill took the team to Arizona I was, like most fans, sorry to see the team go, but not sorry that Bill Bidwill had left the state.

After that, pro football didn’t seem exciting to me anymore. Things changed in 1995 when the Rams decided to make St. Louis their home.

Even though the Rams had beat the Cardinals back in 1975 in a divisional playoff game, I was willing to forgive and forget. 

I don’t usually hold a grudge. 

To forgive and forget is something I have not been able to do with Stan Kroenke.

When Kroenke purchased the Rams in 2010 there was a bad feeling that he would move the Rams back to Los Angeles. Like most people I was willing to take a wait and see attitude.

From 1995 to 2009 the Rams did not have what you would call a great record with a winning percentage of just 44 percent. But, they did something the Cardinals never accomplished — placing first or second in the NFC West eight years in a row, going to the Super Bowl twice and winning Super Bowl XXXIV against the Titans in 1999.

What Kroenke did with the St. Louis Cardinals football franchise was criminal. Kroenke’s excuse was the fact that the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis was not in the top 25 percent of all NFL venues as required by the lease agreement.

Under his ownership the Rams, from 2010 to 2015, did not have one winning season. Their winning percentage was a dismal 38 percent. Everyone knew he was just biding his time until he could relocate the Rams. One of his reasons would be no fan support.

The problem was he didn’t support St. Louis, the fans or the Rams.

Now that the Rams have relocated to the city of angels in California they have a win/loss percentage of 58 percent in just three years. If you ignore the year they moved, 2016, they have won 24 out of 32 games for a winning percentage of 75 percent, before losing Super Bowl LIII 13-3 to the Patriots.

Don’t tell me that it was the nice weather in Los Angeles that made this difference. It’s plain to see — and I’m just an average fan, no expert — that Kroenke didn’t care about St. Louis or it’s fans. He waited until the move to field a winning team.

Do I hate the man? No. But, I do think he is a rotten no good scoundrel who stole the Rams from St. Louis, not for the love of the sport, but to make a buck.

St. Louis is known as the only city to lose two football franchises. I prefer to think that we have kicked two lousy football owners out of the state.

I have heard that bars in St. Louis had photos of Kroenke placed on dart boards and in their urinals. 

Sounds like I’m not the only one to hold a grudge.