Shane Gray provides special Rams commentaries on 101sports.com. Follow him on Twitter: @ShaneGmoSTLRams.
Unfortunately, St. Louis NFL fans have suffered through arguably the second-worst NFL legacy of all time.
If that were not enough, a case could be made that the St. Louis Rams just finished providing the Gateway City and Rams Nation with history’s single most disastrous nine years of football ever.
Over the past nine seasons (2005-13), the Rams’ winning percentage of .299 was the worst in the NFL. In fact, the Rams and Oakland Raiders were the only franchises that failed to produce a single winning season within the aforementioned time frame.
To put the Rams’ recent struggles in another light, the baseball Cardinals could have averaged 100 losses per year over the past 10 seasons and still generated a significantly better winning percentage (.375) than that of the Rams.
In fact, if the Cardinals would have dropped 110 games per season over the last 10, their winning percentage of .321 would have still trumped that of the city’s professional football franchise.
In terms of reaching the postseason during the above-mentioned span, the Rams failed to punch a single playoff ticket. The Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders also failed to reach the postseason party during the last nine years, but all won more regular-season games than St. Louis did.
While the above from the Rams’ last near decennium was bad, the final two factors move the needle from horrendous to historically horrific.
In the heart of this nearly decade-long debacle came the single worst five-year run of professional football the earth has ever seen, as the Rams managed victory on just 15 of 80 outings. That agonizing half-decade resulted in a winning percentage of just .188.
For those who witnessed those tumultuous times, the play on the field was somehow even worse than the record would indicate. No, the Rams were not losing close week in and out. They were getting smoked more frequently than a certain substance is in modern-day Colorado.
In the 1-15 2009 season, the Rams were outscored by a mind-boggling 261 points. On average, they were obliterated to the tune of 18 points per game.
And they weren’t just getting blown out – they were boring, too. In 2009, for instance, the Rams averaged just 10.9 points per game and racked up 10 or fewer points in half of their contests. Within the greatest era of offensive production the game has ever known, St. Louis somehow compiled just 14.4 points per game over five years.
During those five years, the Rams’ average win total was three with seasons of just three, two, one, seven and two victories from 2007-2011.
Perhaps worst of all, St. Louis posted just eight home victories during that historic five-year stretch. In four of the five seasons, they managed an abysmal combined home winning percentage of .075. In the 2007, 2008 and 2011 campaigns, the Rams triumphed but once per year beneath the shadow of the Gateway Arch. In 2009, they failed to win on a single occasion within the Edward Jones Dome.
Finally, adding to the shoddy on-field fiasco of the past nine campaigns is an as yet unresolved off-the-field issue that hurts here more than anywhere else in America – a stadium situation that has many St. Louis fans wondering if the future home of the franchise is in doubt.
Why is the unresolved stadium situation causing more angst, worry and frustration here than elsewhere? For those who lived through the football Cardinals’ departure following the 1987 season, the answer is easy: It’s a once-bitten, twice-shy situation.
Rams COO and vice president of football operations Kevin Demoff has spoken of this conundrum in the past and understands that a sizeable portion of the club’s fan base is understandably more concerned about the teams’ future headquarters than they would be in a city that had not previously lost a team.
If one researches the past and/or asks those who lived through the Cardinals’ move, few truly felt a Cardinals’ relocation would actually occur. Today, any individual 26 or over who was around the city, state or greater region was alive to see a team move, and that breeds a more widespread insecurity than what you will generally find in cities like San Diego, Atlanta or Minneapolis – cities that are or have recently endured stressful stadium concerns of their own.
When considering the above in a nutshell, few – if any – NFL cities have ever endured more than one or two of the following within any nine-year period of their existence (or their entire history, for that matter), let alone within one incredibly trying nine-year stretch:
– Worst winning percentage in NFL (.299).
– Tied for fewest playoff appearances with three other franchises (none).
– Worst five-year record in the history of the league (15-65).
– Perceived uncertain future by many in city that everyone over 26 was alive for former franchise’s exit (Cardinals).
On top of all that, and as mentioned at the beginning of the column, this city has endured the second worst football history ever, bettering only the locale that houses the franchise that began St. Louis’ lackluster legacy here, Arizona – the current home of the Cardinals.