If you want to see grown men weep, move a football team from one city to another. The Rams’ relocation has brought tears of joy in Los Angeles — especially to those old enough to remember the Rams' heyday here — and heartbreak in St. Louis.
“It all feels emasculating,” wrote St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Benjamin Hochman, admirably accessing his emotions about this.
It seems like feelings are welling up everywhere. At the Rams’ press conference on Friday, CBS broadcaster Jim Hill asked owner Stan Kroenke to “talk about your emotions.”
It might seem like an odd question to ask Kroenke. To hear the people of St. Louis tell it, he is little more than a cold-blooded, profit-maximizing lizard. To ask about his emotions would be like asking a python how it feels after swallowing a sheep. Sated, hopefully.
Still, Kroenke did his best to emote for Hill. “Football’s emotional,” he said. “We’re here. It’s a long road. We get a chance to play football. That’s fun.” He then said something about how the Rams, who have not had a winning season in a dozen years, would have done better this year if not for injuries.
Hill, acting the role of therapist, was not satisfied with this answer. In a sit-down interview, he asked again.
Hill: How emotional has all of this been for you?
Kroenke: It was hard, and it’s I think designed to be hard, and that’s fair. The good news is we get to look forward and enjoy a place that we’ve always loved.
In other words, it has not been that emotional for him at all. It’s probably unfair to ask a billionaire to tear up at the thought of more billions. But this is apparently what we need from him and so he’s doing his best.
Even if the man at the center of the whole thing doesn’t feel much, L.A. has nevertheless gained a powerful mechanism of emotional release. Anyone who’s watched pro football knows what a sodden, teary affair the whole thing can become.
What is the biggest complaint about Bill Belichick, the quite successful coach of the New England Patriots? It’s not that he’s a cheater. It’s that he doesn’t share his emotions. C’mon, man, feel something. Can’t you see everyone here is bawling?
Even unremarkable games are freighted with feelings. Announcers know this. The best of them know how to channel it, opening a conduit of admiration between fans and players, fortifying them both with a shared sense of purpose. It’s not uncommon to hear announcers complain that they have “run out of superlatives” to describe players’ performance. Indeed, watching football on TV is a great reminder of how much praise men require to function.
These emotions help explain why St. Louis officials were willing to offer hundreds of millions of dollars in public money to get the Rams to stay. It was not the most rational decision, but it was what the city was willing to pay to avoid emasculation.
That emotional bond is now being forged in a new city. Let’s see if L.A. can fall in love without losing its head.