St. Louis Football, Part Two: Why Rams’ Disastrous Nine Years Might Be Worst in NFL History

Shane Gray provides special Rams commentaries on 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.

  • Shane Gray STL Rams

    As always, enjoy your comments and interaction

  • Doug

    I think both Rams and Raiders are headed back to LA. It’s unfortunate because St. Louis has a fine facility. Oakland? That’s another story.

    It’s pretty obvious to me that Rams’ owners are deliberately asking for too much in order to get relocation approval.

    • Shane Gray STL Rams

      I would have to disagree with all of the above for a plethora of reasons, Doug. Thanks for the comment.

      • Andrejohnsonforpresident

        You did disagree but you were so wrong

  • Youngblood

    No doubt that the three seasons between 2007-2009 were historically pathetic and no fun to watch. However, they hit the .500 in 2006, and have won 7 games with a young team and QB 3 of the last 4. I think people should be a little more excited about the Rams then they are. There is clearly hope. Since 2010 we have 24 wins. In that span the group of teams that have had less than 25 wins include the Vikings, Redskins, Cleveland, Tampa, Jacksonville, and Buffalo who all generate higher attendance stats than we do. Thank god for the Raiders, who keep us out of the cellar. Empty stadium or not, L.A. or not, GO RAMS!

    • Shane Gray STL Rams

      Yes, a few teams have been worse since 2010 but none went through what occurred in 15-65, only two of those have not been to the playoffs in last nine seasons and NONE of them are currently dealing with going to a year to year lease in a city that lost a team just over 25 years ago.

      • Youngblood

        Yeah, but the Rams fans have a Super Bowl within memory that many of those teams don’t have. If St Louis is so scorned that they can never “love” again, maybe that’s what it is, but I doubt it. The NFL Cards weren’t exactly a box office smash either.

        • Shane Gray STL Rams

          Nobody has said that St. Louis cannot “love again”, but the last 9 years have been brutal. As for the Cards, they did not host a home playoff game during their entire 27 year run in St. Louis. It’s tough to build a legacy of packed venues when you housed a franchise that is now the worst in NFL history (the Cards) and then have had arguably the worst combined nine years ever. All considered, St. Louis has done a tremendous job supporting the Rams. Did you see what Pittsburgh did this year at the gate after being so good for so long? There are a great many NFL cities that would not have held up nearly as well with all of the above in the article hitting them at once.

          • Youngblood

            Yes, I did see Pissburgh’s crowds. But let’s also remember that those games were outdoors in freezing conditions. Also, as far merchandising goes, the Steelers brad generates far more revenue for the league at this point. Not that they’re half as cool as the Rams. IMO

  • Raul

    The rams will move, and they need to move, doesn’t matter where as long as it gets people in seats and has a good market, st louis is one of the worst cities in football and stan wants a lot of money. Money that st louis doesn’t have and will end up relocating, and i say its about damn time, I’ve been watching the rams since the 70’s and ever since they came to the lou i’ve never seen a full house, have you seen the home game against the bears? There were more bears fans there than rams fans! I hope the rams come back to LA and if not then somewhere fans will actually appreciate a team.

    • Shane Gray STL Rams

      Raul, your comments show that you haven’t paid close attention, at least not through the duration of their stay in the Gateway City. St. Louis has been given the 2nd worst football of all time yet you want to blame the fans for not keeping a full house? By your logic, the Steelers definitely should move because they are almost always good and finally went 8-8 and they were just a few hundred fans per game ahead of the Rams in attendance this year. St. Louis never had any problems packing the dome when they were good, contrary to your statement above. In fact, I’d place good money on the fact that a great many league cities would have held up worse at the game if they had dealt with: worst nine years in all of the NFL, worst 5 years ever, no playoffs, not a single winning season COUPLED WITH a lease issue in a city that lost a team 25 years ago. The Rams have been horrific, but you want to blame the fans. Only those with an agenda or uninformed would possibly blame the St. Louis fan at this point. In reality, they should be greatly heralded for holding up better, longer than most cities would. You know the Raiders record since 95 is very similar to that of the Rams, yet they have had 80 or so blackouts and had many games in 2000s with attendance as low as 34 to 39 K and quite a few others in the low to mid 40s. Over the same time, the Rams have had either 8 or 9 blackouts and zero from 95 to 2006.

      • Andrejohnsonforpresident

        they did move haha you were wrong

  • Jeff Bone

    It may be early, but it’s hard to get pumped about the less than exciting Schottenheimer offense returning. (Though it did improve throughout the season)
    Seems at times the Rams office is committed to mediocrity.

    • Shane Gray STL Rams

      I can understand your concerns about thee offense, Jeff, but would have to disagree with you regarding the front office. The Rams are working very hard to turn things around. They have a very highly paid coaching staff in place and spend to or near the cap each and every year. Although things have been tough, it certainly hasn’t been for a lack of effort or a lack of expending resources to attempt to consistently win.

      • Jeff Bone

        Super glad to hear that.

  • Randy Karraker
    • Shane Gray STL Rams

      Thanks for adding that, @randykarraker:disqus, and I might add that the NFL made it very clear in documentation to every franchise that they control the L.A. market, not any individual team. Furthermore, the league desires expansion rather than relocation for a variety of reasons.

      • Andrejohnsonforpresident

        again you were wrong haha

    • Youngblood

      Good post Randy. Thanks!

      Shane, I doubt owners would prefer sharing the television contract two more ways, for a variety of reasons.

      I don’t expect a buyout, but apparently it can’t be ruled out. “No request to relocate shall be unconditionally approved, nor shall a relocation be allowed to take effect, if it would result in a breach of the club’s current stadium lease. This provision shall not apply if the club and its landlord agree to terminate the lease or if there is a final court order terminating the lease or concluding that the lease does not preclude a relocation.”

    • Gerald Reynolds

      That’s funny Randy, where were the good faith negotiations in 1994? Where did Frontiere and Shaw make an effort to make a deal either with the City of Anaheim or other local municipality in Southern California in 1994? You cry about being subjected to losing the last 10 years and you ignore the attitude that Frontiere and her management team displayed toward the community in Southern California in 1993 and 1994 when she was openly negotiating with Baltimore and then St Louis in front of us every day. Also at that time, she took a team that had just reached the NFC Title game in 1989 and by 1993 made it shambles by firing Robinson and hiring Chuck Knox who was past his prime as a coach. Plus she traded away a franchise QB (Jim Everett) to the Saints.

  • trancefreak

    I can’t stand when an author has an agenda of an oriented opinion article piece that feels so insecure that/he she needs to rebute every damn post. The said; the author might as well talk to their own delusion and write fantasy’s to them self. Reality check to author; write an article than allow tour readers to make their own subjective opinion without interference. You will fail when you don’t listen to what the real world has a response that does not mirror yours. Allow the feedback and absorb/analyze what others are saying otherwise you will have wasted your time communicating to no one. It’s all about integrity if you want to have a good honest following not mis-skewed by your own views. Being Subjective and objective is up to the readers in response of said article, blog, opinion piece.

  • Brett Shepherd

    If you are so sure the Rams will stay, Why do you keep writing about the stadium issue? Sounds to me like you are trying to convince yourself about something you know nothing about. I bet your Next article will be about how the rams will stay in st louis….oh wait, you already wrote that one.

  • Gerald Reynolds

    Shane, you and I have covered this ground over and over again the past two years. In my opinion, Your belief, that there is no chance the Rams are moving is unfounded and you already know why I disagree with you. Primarily it comes down to money and the economics facing the citizens of St Louis. Also, Mr. Kroenke’s decision will ultimately be based upon economics. Economics favors the move and does not favor staying in St Louis. But as they say, we all shall see.

  • Gerald Reynolds

    The LA area, despite the protestations of the media in St Louis has two viable stadium sites. Los Angeles Stadium owned by Ed Roski and Farmers Field which will be built by AEG. AEG infact will foot the bill for the 1.2 billion dollar Farmers Field. St Louis does not have an approved stadium site or approved set of plans for a new stadium. St Louis does not have funding for such a stadium. State and local government and tax payers are still paying the deal on the EJD. Millions to go in fact. Plus there are state and local budget concerns to pay for schools, police fire depart, and repair in the intra-structure, roads and highways. Where is the money going to come from and where would a new stadium be built. Both Fenton and the Bottle District have been ruled out. The state is not going to pay for a new stadium and neither is the City. Yet funding is there in LA from AEG. Jim Thomas has stated that there is no talks going on with the Rams or anybody else in St Louis for a new stadium. and he also stated that he believes it is Kroenke’s intention to take the Rams to franchise free agency. Stay tuned!

  • Gerald Reynolds
    • Gerald Reynolds

      Kroenke just bought land in Inglewood / LA big enough to build stadium on. See the link to the LA Times above.