The St. Louis Rams are decamping for Los Angeles. Who cares?
I was 12 years old when my beloved St. Louis football Cardinals, of Jim Hart and Dan Dierdorf and Roy Green and Big Red training camp in Charleston, Illinois, moved West to Arizona and left me and a gaggle of other crying Midwesterners in their wake. That team was everything to me, as much as anything can be everything to a 12-year-old. It was impossible for me to understand owner Bill Bidwill’s penny-pinching, or his demand for a new stadium downtown, or the promise of a new start in the American desert: As far as I was concerned, Arizona was in China. I just knew my team was gone.
And by gone, I mean gone. In 1988, when your team left town, it vanished. Television showed only five games a week, and basically never featured the dismal Phoenix Cardinals. Local newspapers had no need to cover a team 1,500 miles away. ESPN was still known more for Australian-rules football than for the NFL. I still cared about my team and wanted to cheer for them, but it was nearly impossible. I remember writing the team’s headquarters in Tempe, asking if they could send me some box scores or maybe just a sticker. (I never heard back.) The Cardinals abandoned St. Louis and left a crater in their wake with nothing to fill it. I was too young to have much fury or civic pride about the abandonment, and I was 100 miles away anyway. I was just sad.
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