So ESPN on Thursday published a nearly 6,000-word investigation into the Rams' contentious move from St. Louis to Los Angeles. It's a worthwhile read if you like backroom politics and speculative real-estate ventures and Jerry Jones calling owners out.
Also of note: Ray Rice's Dumpster fire of a 2014, and the NFL's even worse handling of it. Before the former Ravens running back became an avatar for the league's domestic-violence crisis, NFL owners were split. The massive Los Angeles market was still without a team. Who would fill it? One camp backed Rams owner Stan Kroenke's proposed move to Inglewood, Calif. The other supported a Carson plan led by San Diego Chargers owner Dean Spanos and Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis.
The commissioner was otherwise occupied.
"Nobody knew it at the time, but the league office had already lost control of the Los Angeles relocation process," ESPN's Seth Wickersham and Don Van Natta Jr. write. "Commissioner Roger Goodell's mishandling of the Ray Rice domestic violence discipline in the summer and autumn of 2014 distracted him from executing the league's longtime goal of returning to LA and severely weakened his standing in ownership circles. Meetings about LA that were scheduled for September were pushed to November."
You might remember what happened in September 2014. In July, Goodell suspended Rice two games for violating the league's personal-conduct policy. A month later, Goodell announced more stringent penalties for players accused of domestic violence. Then, on Sept. 8, TMZ released footage that showed Rice striking Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City, N.J., casino elevator in March. Two days later, the Associated Press, citing a law enforcement source, reported that video of the incident had been sent to the league office in April.
As Goodell fought off challenges to his throne, Kroenke sought a new beginning in Los Angeles, outbidding an NFL executive, among others, for a plot of land in Inglewood. Because of the suboptimal condition of St. Louis' Edward Jones Dome — the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, which manages the venue, had failed to maintain it as a "first-tier" venue, as obliged in its stadium lease — the Rams were free to relocate after March 1, 2015. It seemed as if they wouldn't wait long. Until, you know, Goodell's post-Rice toxicity got in the way.
"Later in November, several owners who would serve on the league's LA committee told Kroenke no team would be moving for the 2015 season — owing, in part, to Goodell's weakened leadership," Wickersham and Van Natta write.