St. Louis is suing the NFL and the Rams


The Rams are in the process of settling in to their new Los Angeles digs but they're still going to be spending some time in St. Louis. In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday by the city and county of St. Louis, plus the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority, the NFL is charged with breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and fraudulent misrepresentation.

Per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the plaintiffs argue that Rams owner Stan Kroenke and the NFL were dead-set on moving the team to Los Angeles, public statements that they would listen to a reasonable counter-offer from St. Louis notwithstanding. If they willingly and knowingly lied, the lawsuit claims, they violated the NFL's stated rules.

Specifically, a team can't just pack up and leave whenever there's another municipality willing to put a gift basket of financial incentives on the table. "No club has an 'entitlement' to relocate simply because it perceives an opportunity for enhanced club revenues in another location," the policy states. Further, teams "are obligated to work diligently and in good faith to obtain and to maintain suitable stadium facilities in their home territories."

The lawsuit cites multiple occasions in which Kroenke and other Rams officials didn't come close to meeting that standard. Instead, they told St. Louis fans and the city exactly what they wanted to hear.

Included is part of a 2010 Post-Dispatch interview with Kroenke in which he said: "I'm going to attempt to do everything that I can to keep the Rams in St. Louis. I've always stepped up for pro football in St. Louis. ... People in our state know me. People know I can be trusted."

Another example came in 2014 from Rams executive Kevin Demoff after Kroenke bought land in Inglewood, Calif., that became part of the eventual site of the LA Rams' proposed stadium: "I promise you, Stan is looking at lots of pieces of land around the world right now and none of them are for football stadiums."

But as Seth Wickersham and Don Van Natta reported, Kroenke had been working behind the scenes with now-Los Angeles Chargers owner Dean Spanos since 2013 to craft a credible plan to move both franchises, and spent the ensuing years working the ur-Good Old Boy Network that is NFL ownership in order to make it a reality.

And the lawsuit isn't pulling any punches when it comes to the NFL's relocation policy as a whole. "[T]he Relocation Policy and relocation process are a sham meant to disguise the avarice and anticompetitive nature of the entire proceeding. The Relocation Policy was adopted to avoid antitrust liability by circumscribing the members' subjective decision-making, but, in reality, the Policy is ignored whenever convenient to pursue a greater profit," the plaintiffs allege.

Before Kroenke left town, St. Louis did offer up a credible—well, credible as far as these scams go, at least—counteroffer: a $1.1 billion stadium in which the public would fork over $477 million in tax breaks and straight cash. The Rams shrugged and NFL Executive Vice President Eric Grubman said at the time that it wasn't a "compelling proposal."

In response to Wednesday's filing, the NFL issued this statement:

"There is no legitimate basis for this litigation. While we understand the disappointment of the St. Louis fans and the community, we worked diligently with local and state officials in a process that was honest and fair at all times."

St. Louis also spent millions coming up with plans for a new stadium, one that, according to the lawsuit, never stood a chance of succeeding. They also claim that the city stands to lose over $ $15 million per year in various forms of property, income, entertainment, and sales taxes now that the Rams are gone.

Should the various parties choose to settle, we'd miss out on what's sure to be a juicy-as-hell discovery phrase and airing of the NFL's dirty laundry, but if it does make it to trial, how fun would it be if the NFL's lawyers were forced to argue that a stadium in St. Louis (or anywhere else) isn't really worth nearly as much money as the lawsuit claims? Because it isn't.

26 PHOTOS
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The highest-paid NFL players of all time

25. Dwight Freeney, DE — $97.6 million

Seasons: 15

Highest single-season earnings: $30.8 million (2007; includes $15 million signing bonus)

Championships: 1

Pro Bowls: 7

First-team All-Pro: 3

One thing to know: Prior to the 2007 season, Freeney signed a six-year, $72 million contract with the Colts and, in a rarity for the NFL, he made every penny of that deal.

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

24. Jared Allen, DE — $97.9 million

Seasons: 12

Highest single-season earnings: $20.9 million (2008; includes $15.5 million signing bonus)

Championships: 0

Pro Bowls: 5

First-team All-Pro: 4

One thing to know: Allen spent some of his earnings on at least one horse. We know this because when he announced his retirement in February, he rode off on a horse.

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

23. Champ Bailey, CB — $102.8 million

Seasons: 15

Highest single-season earnings: $16.5 million (2010; includes $3 million roster bonus)

Championships: 0

Pro Bowls: 12

First-team All-Pro: 3

One thing to know: Bailey's largest contract came after the 2003 season, when he signed a seven-year, $63 million deal.

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

22. Ndamukong Suh, DT — $104.2 million

Seasons: 7

Highest single-season earnings: $26.5 million (2015; includes $25.5 million signing bonus)

Championships: 0

Pro Bowls: 4

First-team All-Pro: 3

One thing to know: If Suh stays with the Dolphins until the end of his 6-year, $114.4 million contract his career earnings will rise to $178.6 million.

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

21. Joe Thomas, LT — $108.4 million

Seasons: 10

Highest single-season earnings: $19.1 million (2011; includes $6 million signing bonus)

Championships: 0

Pro Bowls: 9

First-team All-Pro: 6

One thing to know: Thomas has never missed an NFL game due to injury and has started all 156 games since being drafted.

(Photo by: Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)

20. Matthew Stafford, QB — $110.8 million

Seasons: 8

Highest single-season earnings: $26.9 million

Championships: 0

Pro Bowls: 1

First-team All-Pro: 0

One thing to know: Stafford was the top pick in the 2009 draft in an era when there were no limits on rookie contracts. His first deal was worth $72 million.

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

19. Jay Cutler, QB — $112.2 million

Seasons: 11

Highest single-season earnings: $20.5 million (2015; includes $5 million restructure bonus)

Championships: 0

Pro Bowls: 1

First-team All-Pro: 0

One thing to know: Cutler's seven-year, $126.7 million contract is the largest in NFL history in terms of total potential value.

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

18. Calvin Johnson, WR — $113.8 million

Seasons: 9

Highest single-season earnings: $25 million (2013; includes $20 million option bonus)

Championships: 0

Pro Bowls: 6

First-team All-Pro: 3

One thing to know: Johnson retired earlier this year because he was reportedly "in pain." He walked away from the final four years and $67.7 million on his contract.

(Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)

17. Joe Flacco, QB — $114.8 million

Seasons: 9

Highest single-season earnings: $30.0 million (2013; includes $29.0 million signing bonus)

Championships: 1

Pro Bowls: 1

First-team All-Pro: 0

One thing to know: Joe Flacco has elite career earnings.

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

16. Darrelle Revis, CB — $118.2 million

Seasons: 10

Highest single-season earnings: $25 million (2011; includes $18 million option bonus)

Championships: 1

Pro Bowls: 7

First-team All-Pro: 4

One thing to know: In a league where most players are forced to take safe contracts, Revis has continually bet on himself and won and he says he wants to keep going. Despite a report saying Revis will retire after the season, Revis says he wants to play in 2017.

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

15. Mario Williams, DE — $120.4 million

Seasons: 11

Highest single-season earnings: $25 million (2012; includes $19 million signing bonus)

Championships: 0

Pro Bowls: 4

First-team All-Pro: 1

One thing to know: Mario Williams was another No. 1 overall draft pick back when No. 1 overall draft picks received gigantic rookie contracts. Williams' first deal with the Texans was for six years and $54 million.

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

14. Michael Vick, QB — $121.2 million

Seasons: 13

Highest single-season earnings: $27.5 million (2005)

Championships: 0

Pro Bowls: 4

First-team All-Pro: 0

One thing to know: Vick missed two seasons in the prime of his career following his dog-fighting conviction.

(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

13. Aaron Rodgers, QB — $123.8 million

Seasons: 12

Highest single-season earnings: $38.3 million (2013; includes $33.3 million signing bonus)

Championships: 1

Pro Bowls: 5

First-team All-Pro: 2

One thing to know: The Packers have Rodgers under contract through the 2019 season and his cap hit never exceeds $21.1 million.

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

12. Tony Romo, QB — $127.4 million

Seasons: 13

Highest single-season earnings: $26.5 million (2013; includes $25 million signing bonus)

Championships: 0

Pro Bowls: 4

First-team All-Pro: 0

One thing to know: Romo still has three years left on his contract with the Cowboys, but with the emergence of Dak Prescott, Romo will almost certainly not be back with Dallas in 2017. With the contract, Romo can effectively pick who he wants to play for in 2017, and he reportedly prefers the Broncos. However, retirement is also an option.

(Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

11. Matt Ryan, QB — $133.7 million

Seasons: 9

Highest single-season earnings: $36.5 million (2014; includes $15 million signing bonus)

Championships: 0

Pro Bowls: 3

First-team All-Pro: 0

One thing to know: Including salaries and bonuses, Ryan has made $78.8 million in the first four years of his five-year, $103.8 million extension.

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

10. Brett Favre, QB — $137.8 million

Seasons: 20 (retired in 2010)

Highest single-season earnings: $16 million (2010; includes $4.4 million signing bonus)

Championships: 1

Pro Bowls: 11

First-team All-Pro: 3

One thing to know: Favre only made more than $12 million once while with the Packers, but made more than that in each of his three seasons with the Jets and Vikings.

(Photo by Jay Drowns/Sporting News via Getty Images)

9. Larry Fitzgerald, WR — $140.3 million

Seasons: 13

Highest single-season earnings: $26.3 million (2012; includes $15 million option bonus)

Championships: 0

Pro Bowls: 9

First-team All-Pro: 1

One thing to know: Fitzgerald is signed through the 2017 season, however a report stated that Fitzgerald has been telling those close to him that he will retire after this season. Fitzgerald denied making a decision on his future.

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

8. Julius Peppers, LB — $156.0 million

Seasons: 15

Highest single-season earnings: $20.2 million (2010; includes $6.5 million signing bonus)

Championships: 0

Pro Bowls: 9

First-team All-Pro: 3

One thing to know: Peppers will be an unrestricted contract after the season. He will be 37 next year.

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

7. Carson Palmer, QB — $156.6 million

Seasons: 13

Highest single-season earnings: $19.0 million (2014; includes $10 million signing bonus)

Championships: 0

Pro Bowls: 3

First-team All-Pro: 0

One thing to know: Palmer still has two years and $28.0 million left on his contract with the Cardinals. His cap hit jumps from $18.4 million this year to $24.1 million next year and the two sides will almost certainly need to restructure his deal.

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

6. Ben Roethlisberger, QB — $158.3 million

Seasons: 13

Highest single-season earnings: $35.3 million (2015; includes $31 million signing bonus)

Championships: 2

Pro Bowls: 4

First-team All-Pro: 0

One thing to know: At $87.4 million, the contract signed prior to the 2015 season by Big Ben didn't sound as sexy as the other deals signed by quarterbacks. But it was better than most, as he got more than $35 million in Year 1 and a whopping $53 million over the first two seasons.

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

5. Philip Rivers, QB — $173.9 million

Seasons: 13

Highest single-season earnings: $32 million (2015; includes $17 million signing bonus)

Championships: 0

Pro Bowls: 5

First-team All-Pro: 0

One thing to know: Rivers got one of the surprise monster contracts in recent memory, which will likely push his career earnings close to $220 million when all's said and done.

(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

4. Drew Brees, QB — $181.7 million

Seasons: 16

Highest single-season earnings: $40 million (2012; includes $37 million signing bonus)

Championships: 1

Pro Bowls: 9

First-team All-Pro: 1

One thing to know: Brees had the highest cap hit in the NFL last season at $23.8 million. An extension signed prior to this season lowered his 2016 cap figure from $30.0 million to $17.3 million.

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

3. Tom Brady, QB — $196.2 million

Seasons: 17

Highest single-season earnings: $28.8 million (2016; includes $28.0 million signing bonus)

Championships: 4

Pro Bowls: 11

First-team All-Pro: 2

One thing to know: Brady has consistently sacrificed money during his career for the sake of the team. However, he is starting to cash in now, signing a $41 million extension prior to the season that included a $28 million signing bonus.

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

2. Eli Manning, QB — $205.8 million

Seasons: 13

Highest single-season earnings: $37 million (2015; includes $31 million signing bonus)

Championships: 2

Pro Bowls: 4

First-team All-Pro: 0

One thing to know: Manning made $37 million last season alone as part of his new $84 million contract, which included a $31 million signing bonus. This season he has the highest cap hit in the NFL at $24.2 million. If he plays out the final three years of his current contract, his career earnings will grow to $252.3 million.

(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

1. Peyton Manning, QB — $248.7 million

Seasons: 18

Highest single-season earnings: $35 million (2004; includes $34.5 million signing bonus)

Championships: 2

Pro Bowls: 14

First-team All-Pro: 7

One thing to know: Manning's final paycheck in the NFL was a $4 million bonus for winning the Super Bowl last season. He had one year and $19 million remaining on his Broncos contract when he retired.

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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The post St. Louis Is Suing The NFL And The Rams appeared first on Vocativ.

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