With all of the unwarranted criticism Stan Kroenke takes in St. Louis, one should step back and consider how he saved the St. Louis Rams.
In 2010, when Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez sold their 60 percent of the organization, auto parts manufacturer Shahid Khan emerged as the leading candidate to take the reins.
Because Kroenke owned 40 percent of the Rams, his stake gave him the right of first refusal if the majority ownership family sells.
Kroenke flexed his muscles, and stretched the limits of the NFL’s cross-ownership ban to buy the Rams.
Kroenke came in with a plan: Assigning CEO Kevin Demoff as a liaison to ownership on all operational matters. Together they canned head coach Steve Spagnuolo and Billy Devaney, and lured the hottest free agent coach on the market, Jeff Fisher.
Fisher’s credibility around the league allowed him to bring in highly credentialed assistant coaches, and tabbed the young, innovative Les Snead from the Atlanta Falcons organization as the General Manager.
The Rams overhauled 60% of their roster in one year and won seven games in 2012 following a brutal 2-14 campaign the year before. Two rookies from their 2012 Draft, defensive tackle Michael Brockers and cornerback Janoris Jenkins, were named to the NFL’s All-Rookie team.
Meanwhile, Illinois-native Shahid Khan pursued the Jacksonville Jaguars, and on November 29, 2011, Khan agreed to purchase the Jags from Wayne Weaver and his ownership group.
Last week he fired GM Gene Smith, the main architect of the roster, who had been with the team since their inception in 1994. Yesterday, Khan hired Atlanta’s director of player personnel David Caldwell to replace Smith, and today Caldwell fired head coach Mike Mularkey, who didn’t even make it a full calendar year in Jacksonville.
Stranger, Caldwell had been with the Falcons organization for five years, three of which Mike Mularkey was the offensive coordinator.
Khan has publically spoke highly of QB Tim Tebow, and had this to say about Blaine Gabbert, the 10th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft:
“I think he [Gabbert] is going to be a great quarterback, I think he is our franchise quarterback. I think he needs development. We want to develop him. We want to give him tools. A dedicated coach. And I think he’s going to be great.”
Granted, Kroenke is rarely accessible and has a looming stadium lease problem — but at least the Rams aren’t in the hands of Shahid Khan, whose ship is sinking fast in Jacksonville.