NFL suffers setback in Rams relocation litigation

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The massive lawsuit filed by St. Louis against the NFL over the relocation of the Rams will (barring a settlement) culminate with a full-blown trial, which is due to begin just as the Rams prepare to host a Super Bowl in their new stadium. Along the way, the two sides will engage in many battles. Today, St. Louis scored a major victory in one of them.

Via Randy Karraker of 101 ESPN, a judge has ruled that the plaintiffs in the litigation shall have access to information regarding the financial worth of Commissioner Roger Goodell and five NFL owners: Rams owner Stan Kroenke, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Giants owner John Mara, and former Panthers owner Jerry Richardson.

The outcome has significance in large part because really rich people never want to be forced to disclose details about what they have. For a judge to tell six of the wealthiest men in America that they must turn over that information represents the kind of slap in the face that folks holding that kind of power and money rarely if ever experience.

The reason for the conclusion has significance as well. The judge, who made the ruling from the bench (which means the evidence pointing to it was clear), concluded that clear and convincing proof exists to support a finding that those individuals operated in a fraudulent manner. As to the rest of the owners, St. Louis has 10 days to present evidence supporting that they should be forced to surrender their financial information as well.

The financial information has relevance as to the question of punitive damages. If a jury ultimately decides that the NFL and one or more owners operated in a way that justifies an award over and above the money actually lost by the St. Louis plaintiffs because of the move, the financial worth of the defendant becomes critical to determining proper punishment. The more money someone has, the greater the award needed to punish those individuals for engaging in bad behavior and deterring others in the future from conducting themselves in a similar manner.

So, in other words, the judge is satisfied that enough evidence exists as to the individuals listed above for a reasonable jury to conclude that an award of punitive damages should be entered against them. That conclusion alone suggests that plenty of evidence exists to support that someone from the NFL and/or one of its teams said or did something that he shouldn’t have said or done in connection with the relocation of the Rams.

Part of the evidence includes a phone call from 2013 between Kroenke, Goodell, Mara, and Steelers owner Art Rooney (it’s unclear based on Karraker’s tweets whether Rooney is required to surrender his financial information at this point). During the conversation, Kroenke said, “I’m going to buy two parcels of land and build a stadium in L.A.,” and that he’s trying very hard to stay under the radar screen and keep it hidden. Goodell said, “We will respect your confidentiality.”

Rams COO Kevin Demoff later gave Goodell talking points regarding the land purchase for his pre-Super Bowl press conference in 2014. Here’s part of what he said, at a time when Goodell already knew that Kroenke intended to build a stadium on the land he had purchased:“Stan is a very successful developer. He has billions of dollars of projects that are going on around the country in real estate development. So I think instead of overreacting, we should make sure we do what’s necessary to continue to support the team locally as the fans have done in St. Louis. And make sure we do whatever we can to make sure that team is successful in the St. Louis market. . . . There are no plans to my knowledge of a stadium development.” (Emphasis added.)

Also, Jones admitted during his deposition in the case that he urged Kroenke to move the Rams. One day after the vote approving the move happened, the Rams signed a contract with Legends Hospitality (partially owned by Jones) to sell PSLs and luxury suites.

Karraker’s tweets have one other fascinating tidbit, in light of prior claims made by the NFL in the litigation. But since it’s sort of slow and because I’d like to keep these blurbs short, I’ll do a separate item on it a little later.

48 responses to “NFL suffers setback in Rams relocation litigation

  1. Here’s hoping St. Louis takes this to trial as a special middle finger to the league over the Rams rather than take the money the NFL is surely going to try to throw at the city.

  2. I just have a hard time imagining a full-blown trial taking place. The owners will do everything to try and settle.

  3. The NFL must have the best lawyers because they always suffer early setbacks and win in the end

  4. The bottom line is St Louis may win this battle, but if they do they will be black-balled by the NFL from having anything NFL related again.

  5. Never happen I know, but the punishment should be for the owners to be required to relocate their franchise to St. Louis.

  6. The only fair remedy to me is to force the Rams to relocate back to St. Louis. While they are at it, strip Jerry Jones of ownership of Cowboys.

  7. Welp.

    I believe the odds are that St Louis may get another team after all should this go pear shaped for the owners.

    May be easier for the league to off the record make it clear that a group from St Louis will be at the front of the line come next expansion.

    May be a great deal easier for the NFL to stomach than having Jones, Kraft, etc be put on a stand. Not to mention Goodell

  8. nfldivas says:
    July 12, 2021 at 6:30 pm
    The bottom line is St Louis may win this battle, but if they do they will be black-balled by the NFL from having anything NFL related again.


    I imagine they already are.

  9. gallopingghost says:
    July 12, 2021 at 6:57 pm
    The only fair remedy to me is to force the Rams to relocate back to St. Louis. While they are at it, strip Jerry Jones of ownership of Cowboys.

    Not taking shots at Kraft or Mara too? Richardson or Rooney? None of them?

  10. These are the owners who were going to struggle paying the peanut vendors on game days next season.

  11. St Louis may not win but they can surely expose a lot of the seedy underbelly that is business in the NFL. Not a good look for the league.

  12. Serves Goodell right. Just an all time disgrace of a human along with Kroenke.

  13. I lived for the St. Louis Rams. The 1999 season and the Super Bowl win on January 30, 2000 was one of the highlights of my life. Kroenke might be the most hated man in St. Louis. He was from Missouri but hurt St. Louis more than anyone else. Jerry Jones parents owned Animal Paradise near Springfield Missouri. Both Kroenke and Jones had significant ties to Missouri. I hope both men pay dearly and in the end St. Louis is awarded another team with the NFL owners paying for a new stadium in St. Louis.

  14. lot to do about nothing. If nfl pays for the loss of the team then so be it. St L9is didnt suppirt the team and my recollection they refused a new or upgrading the stadium.

  15. Ram’s lease with the city required St. Louis to keep “The Dome” in the top 5 of stadiums in the league. St. Louis signed a lease they couldn’t keep up with and the Rams left per terms of the lease. I don’t see St. Louis winning this one in the end.

  16. Hard to feel sorry for St. Louis. The city had 2 different NFL franchises and their fans didn’t support either one. Some cities have had the same crappy teams year in and year out and its still the hardest ticket to score. St. Louis fans got excited for about 3 years when they won their Superbowl then they stopped coming when the winning was over. St. Louis is a baseball city always was ways will be.

  17. Richardson should not have to do anything unless he wants some revenge on the NFL

  18. A bunch of billionaires are corrupt and are trying to skirt the system… who could have guessed this… there’s a reason kraft was never charged in florida…

  19. As a St Louis native, let me assure you the football fans know the NFL will never come back. It’s doubtful a city is going to get a third franchise. Once the city went all in against Stan and the NFL, there was no turning back. St Louis wants Kroenke to pay, and any owners who were involved in the move to LA to get hit hard as well. Don’t be surprised to see Goodell convince Kroenke to settle. A trial will totally embarrass Stan and the other owners

  20. St. Louis stole the Rams from Los Angeles, Los Angeles stole the Rams back after St. Louis refused to meet the terms of the lease. St. Louis was supposed to keep the Rams in the top 5% of all the stadiums in the NFL. When that didn’t happen, the Rams hired consultants to determine what it would take and how much it would cost to bring the Dome into compliance. When St. Louis found out how much, they balked which made it legal for the Rams to move according to the terms of the lease. So what’s the problem here? St. Louis is mad that the Rams made them live up to the lease terms?

  21. Hmmm, super rich guys are being investigated for illegal and unethical conduct by the American justice system. Can a stern slap on the wrist followed by some sort of non-disclosure agreement be far behind?

  22. howboutthemcowboys2020 says:
    July 12, 2021 at 6:30 pm
    The NFL must have the best lawyers because they always suffer early setbacks and win in the end

    They absolutely do.

  23. Much ado about nothing. It will be determined that the city failed to maintain the facility or update it. It’s all on record. PRIOR to the sale of the team, even. It’s been an issue for a long time. And there is no way anyone is going to force the team back to StL. Just ain’t happening.

  24. Ram’s lease with the city required St. Louis to keep “The Dome” in the top 5 of stadiums in the league. St. Louis signed a lease they couldn’t keep up with and the Rams left per terms of the lease. I don’t see St. Louis winning this one in the end.


    This is nothing to do with the Dome lease, it’s to do with negotiating in good faith, which based on the words of various people such as Kroenke, Roger Goodell, Eric Grubman and Kevin Demoff, they clearly didn’t. St Louis committed time and money towards a new stadium plan when the NFL and the Rams had no intention of ever considering it. The NFL relocation guidelines, which they now want to throw out the window after putting into place when they attempted to stop Al Davis from doing the very thing they are now, requires a team looking to move exhausts the efforts to build or renovate a stadium in its home market. They clearly did not.

  25. As much as Florio has shown himself to hate Kronke and/or the Rams, I’d wager he’ll be the first in line at the Super Bowl reporters spread next February.

    The St. Louis fans are the biggest hypocrites and crybabies the sports world has. They steal the Cardinals from Chicago, lose them to Phoenix, steal the Rams from L.A., from where they never should have been allowed to move from in the first place, lose them back to L.A., and now we are all supposed to feel so sorry for them.

    The state of Missouri, the county and the City of St. Louis did not live up to its lease. It’s as simple as that. The first chance Kronke had to right the wrong, he took it.

    Whatever St. Louis fans think Kronke did, I know some things he did not. For example, Kronke did so without having the owner mysteriously drown, even if that owner was a championship-level swimmer, nor he fire the heir-apparent, a stepson, in a power grab. You know what else he didn’t do? He didn’t trade for washed-up QB’s like Joe Namath or Bert Jones, or unknowns like Dieter Brock, just because he had a crush on any of them.

    You may hate what happened, but, hey, it’s just business, right?

    I love the guy who wrote that he “lived and died with the St. Louis Rams.” What about the people in Southern California who felt the same way about the Los Angeles Rams?

    As others here have written, all St. Louis is doing is ensuring that the city will never, ever get another team. Unless, of course, they find some judge who will order the NFL to expand there. Don’t hold your breath, folks.

    Just like I won’t hold my breath on Florio ever being truly impartial when it comes to Stan Kronke or the Rams.

  26. NFL will dump some money on the city and the promise of an expansion team if it looks like they are going to lose this case. The real test in that case is whether the city officials take the offer or fall for the shiny penny….

  27. As a Browns fan I feel for any city that loses their team. It’s a feeling I wouldn’t even wish on a Steelers fan. Unfortunately, it’s just like Vegas, you can’t beat the house. Yes, Cleveland got its team and colors back but at what cost? Many point to mismanagement as the Browns’ foils but it all started with a last minute ownership group given very little time to prepare a new organization from the bottom up and it snowballed from there. And all along the way a fan couldn’t help but feel that the NFL reveled in this setup for failure and in many cases enabled it. Took 22 years to turn this ship around and who knows if the powers that be don’t have some special heartbreak in store for my Brownies yet.

  28. The NFL is a private organization, they can move teams wherever they like. The Rams did not break any lease on the Edward Jones Dome. Also in 2017 St Louis had the highest murder rate in America, so look in the mirror if you want to know why they left.

  29. Fantastic! It couldn’t happen to a nicer group of owners. Rooting for St. Louis!!

  30. Oh come on. There is less than zero chance that the Rams are going to be forced to move back to St Louis. No businessperson with an ounce of intelligence would ever leave the LA market for St. Louis (which is why Georgia Frontiere moved them in the first place – she wasn’t a smart businessperson). So what if Goodell stated that there were no plans to build a stadium in LA. Was he under oath? No? The NFL will lose because the jury will be people from St. Louis who will make an emotional decision rather than a legal one. Somebody in St. Louis will get a check, St. Louis won’t get a team (and thanks to this suit may never get a team).

  31. That picture looks a pair of 2 totally honest guys doesnt it? BA HA HA

  32. @kemp13: You clearly didn’t read the article that there was more to come in a separate article. Actually, Goodell did testify under oath that the relocation guidelines are mandatory. “Via Karraker, the lawyers representing the plaintiffs asked Goodell if the relocation policy is “mandatory.” Goodell said in response, “Counselor, it says right here” that they are.”

    The lawsuit isn’t about the Dome lease as that is a moot point, already noted by the Missouri Supreme Court judge because the lease has nothing to do with the lawsuit. It is about not negotiating in good faith and following their own relocation guidelines for unjust enrichment. The United States Supreme Court has already denied hearing this trial. The NFL and the Rams have so far lost every pre-trial issue and subpoena they’ve tried to dismiss. A full blown trial or an extremely large settlement is coming.

  33. Some hilarious comments by small brainers:

    Strip Jerry Jones of Ownership (what has he done in this private club to offend teh club?)

    Make every owner pay who was involved. (The vote was 30-2 to move the franchise to LA)

    The Browns have righted the ship.

    Some good comments from thinkers:

    The NFL won’t lose this in the end.

    Georgia Frontiere was no business person.

    It’s doubtful the city (St Louis) will get another franchise. (spot on)

  34. Roger Goodell, operating in a fraudulent manner? I am stunned. What’s next, the judge ordering disclosure of the 2015 league wide psi data?

  35. bart3532 says:
    July 12, 2021 at 7:32 pm
    The Rams could request a new expansion team

    The Rams? Are going to … request a new expansion team? How would that work exactly? And why?

  36. Take it to the Supreme Court. They’ll side with the NFL

    The NFL already tried that last year and the SC REFUSED to hear it. Thats how it ended back down in Missouri court of appeals. Where ownership lost again. And ended back in the St. Louis courts. LOL. You cannot make this stuff up. Hey NFL, pay your half billion to the city of St. Louis and give the city first refusal rights on expansion or move the Chargers to St. Louis, since LA could careless about them…

  37. The NFL is a private organization, they can move teams wherever they like. The Rams did not break any lease on the Edward Jones Dome. Also in 2017 St Louis had the highest murder rate in America, so look in the mirror if you want to know why they left.

    I swear you guys keep missing the point. This is not about breaking the lease agreement. This is about the NFL NOT FOLLOWING ITS OWN GUIDLINES. Which is illegal if you are telling the city what it needs to do to negotiate in good faith (per YOUR own guidelines), but conversely doing the opposite on your end to enrich yourselves is a serious issue. Stan and the NFL are not going to be able to wiggle out of this…they will try to quietly settle. But being quiet is not going to satisfy the city of St. Louis because they have to let the people of St. Louis that something of material value came out of this…Demoff miscalculated so much and arrogance got the best of he and Stan.. Not only is the city of Boston watching this, but Oakland, San Diego and England (Arsenal) as well…

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