Though it hasn't been publicized in the wake of longtime owner Georgia Frontiere's death earlier this year, the St. Louis Rams are on the market, according to several NFL sources.
The possible sale of the franchise could have major ramifications, with a potential return of the team to Southern California hanging over any transaction. Adding intrigue to the situation: One of the prospective buyers who has had preliminary discussions with an intermediary about buying the Rams is Eddie DeBartolo, who owned the rival San Francisco 49ers from 1977 to '98.
"I know that they are definitely in play," DeBartolo told Yahoo! Sports last week. "Georgia's kids (son Chip Rosenbloom and daughter Lucia Rodriguez) have decided to sell the team. I've talked to some people who are brokering things, and they've told me about the price and what the deal might entail."
Rams president John Shaw, who has been the de facto leader of the franchise since Frontiere moved the Rams from Anaheim to St. Louis in 1995, declined to comment on the team's potential sale.
While DeBartolo said he has only a "slight" interest in purchasing the Rams, who sources say are being shopped in the $850 million to $900 million range, he conceded that part of the deal's allure would be the possibility of filling the void in the L.A. market that has existed since the Rams and Raiders left town before the '95 season.
"Their lease (at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis) is up in 2012, and they would be a natural for that to happen," DeBartolo said of the Rams' return to L.A. under new ownership. "It would be something to look at, and it's interesting to see the numbers and everything. But it wouldn't be my first choice of a franchise if I chose to get back in."
DeBartolo, who lives in Tampa, would prefer to purchase the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was part of a group that included Outback Steakhouse founder Chris Sullivan which approached Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer about buying the team seven years ago, but their interest was rebuffed.
Two years ago, in a story I wrote for Sports Illustrated, DeBartolo said he was intrigued by the prospect of purchasing the Raiders and relocating them to L.A. At the time two prominent NFL owners, including the Dallas Cowboys' Jerry Jones, said they believed DeBartolo would be approved should he attempt to return to the league – something that was in question after he became embroiled in a Louisiana gaming scandal a decade ago and ultimately pled guilty to a felony (not reporting an extortion attempt by the state's former governor, Edwin Edwards).
"I love the guy, and a lot of people in that room (at an NFL owners meeting) like him," one AFC owner said earlier this month. "I think he'd be approved."
Given the decline of the 49ers' fortunes since the popular and wildly successful owner's departure – and DeBartolo's acrimonious relationship with brother-in-law John York, who currently runs the franchise – the thought of him owning a reprised L.A. Rams ranks with the previously floated Raiders scenario as a 49ers fan's worst nightmare. But DeBartolo, who has worked hard to repair his once-bitter relationship with sister Denise DeBartolo York, insists he's not motivated by any sort of revenge fantasy.
"Oh, (expletive), I'm past that," DeBartolo insisted. "I would only do it for the right reasons – business reasons. I don't know, the Rams, they were always my archenemy. (St. Louis is) a good city. And, you know, we took care of the Rams pretty good when we owned the 49ers."
DeBartolo, 61, also says he is not as high on the Los Angeles market as he was two years ago.
"First of all, who's proven in L.A. that a damn team even works?" DeBartolo asked. "It didn't work for Al Davis, and he won a Super Bowl there. I think L.A. has yet to prove it wants to support a pro football team. And unless somebody does an awfully damn good survey and market-research study indicating otherwise, I'll be skeptical."
One high-ranking league source says the Jacksonville Jaguars are another team that might be sold and relocated to L.A. and that owner Wayne Weaver has solicited potential buyers in recent months. But DeBartolo discounted the possibility of purchasing the Jags, saying, "I think (he'll sell) every year, but it doesn't happen. I get the feeling that Wayne really wants a Super Bowl, and every year he keeps thinking, 'It's gonna be the year,' and he decides to keep them."
As for the Rams, an NFL owner familiar with the situation says at least two groups not involving DeBartolo have had discussions with those brokering the sale about a possible purchase. The owner said it appears unlikely that Stan Kroenke, a Rams minority owner, will try to buy out Frontiere's heirs and assume control of the franchise. To gain NFL approval, Kroenke would have to divest himself of his ownership interests in the NBA's Denver Nuggets and NHL's Colorado Avalanche because failing to do so would violate the NFL's cross-ownership policy (which does not allow someone with controlling ownership in an NFL franchise to own major pro sports teams who play in a different NFL city).
"It'll be interesting to see what happens," DeBartolo said.
TRIPPIN' ON E(MAIL)
"I am a minister at a church here in Indiana – as well as coach high school football and softball. A few people and myself read your article on Diabetes I with Jay Cutler and your son. We were wondering which foundation(s) are available for us to support. Do you have Web sites, addresses, phone numbers? Thanks!"
Absolutely. I suggest starting with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which is devoted to finding a cure for Type I and its complications through research. The phone number is 1-800-533-CURE, and the address is 120 Wall Street, New York, NY 10005-4001.
"Michael, I too have a son with Type I. Christian was diagnosed on Dec. 27, 2007 (week of our last game of the regular season). He turned 7 years old in January. Thanks for writing such a great article. Best wishes for the continued health of your son."
Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator
I responded to Jim directly, and I obviously feel for him and his family. On a professional note, I'm now even more convinced that Schwartz will be a successful NFL head coach, for this reason: With his world rocked and his team facing a win-or-else game, Schwartz managed to preside over a defensive unit that keyed a 16-10 victory over the Colts at the RCA Dome, limiting Indy to 194 total yards. Either he's really good at focusing in the face of adversity (and crafting a shrewd game plan), or his players responded to his trauma and played their hearts out – or both.
"Thank you so much for you insight into the world of a type 1 diabetic and how it not only affects the one who is diagnosed, but those around them. I am a diehard Broncos fan, (not easy for someone who moved to Southern California when I was 8 and had to deal with obnoxious Raider fans) and a father of Luke, a boy who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes four years ago. I too remember the date when my son was rushed to ICU in Santa Barbara in an ambulance and spent six days in the hospital. I also remember the doctor telling me and my son's mother that he had seen two children come into the emergency room in the last two months in the same condition as my son, yet neither of them survived. I also remember fighting back tears when my son looked me in the eyes at 6 years old and asked, 'Dad, when I go to heaven, will I still have diabetes?' But I also look back and remember that I was able to coach a very talented football team that Luke was on that made it to the championship game two years in a row. He's a fighter, and a survivor. The first thing Luke told me when he found out that Jay Cutler was diagnosed was, 'He'll be OK, Dad, he's tough.' Some people look to athletes or movie stars as their heroes. My hero is my 10-year-old son."
Santa Paula, Calif.
I hear you, brother. Thanks for sharing Luke's story. Now I'm getting choked up …
"January 1, 2004. That's the date burned forever into my memory when I was slapped out of my ignorance and into the roller coaster life of being the parent of a child with Type I diabetes. I'm also a Denver Broncos season ticket holder with another reason to proudly wear my Jay Cutler jersey. Your article was a great combination of assurance that Jay has the correct mindset and drive to overcome the obstacles created by his disease and education about life with Type I. I want to save the article and hand it to all of those who mean well but 'don't really get it.' "
Thanks, and keep fighting back from that unhappy New Year. I think Jay is going to do some great things, on and off the field.
"The piece on Cutler was great. People need to understand that diabetes doesn't have to be a death sentence. One thing, though, not all Type 2 folks are fat or have a family history. I'm 5-foot-5, 140 pounds. … I have Type 2. I also have MS, an autoimmune disease that, well, messes with your body in ways they aren't sure of yet. I'm working with doctors at Joslin Clinic and New England Medical Center to get a handle on it all, but as the MS changes, so does the diabetes. It's a little test for me and I hope to pass it. Anyway, just wanted to share a little known fact about the other diabetes. I do hope your son stays a happy kid and has all the successes he aspires to. Regards."
West Brookfield, Mass.
Good luck passing that test, and thank you for pointing out those facts about Type II. That's a burden that's no fun, either, and no one deserves to be saddled with it. Hang in there.
"Thank you for your story about Type I diabetes. I was one of the ignorant people who knew nothing about it, let alone the distinct differences between Types I and II. Hopefully your article, and the inevitable future messages of Jay Cutler will help to educate people like myself, and hopefully lead to a cure. With two little boys of my own (3 and 1), I had no idea how life altering Type I diabetes is. You have an incredible son to be able to handle it the way it sounds like he does. I wish the very best to him and your family. Thank you for enlightening me, and helping me re-appreciate how fortunate I am."
Thank you for your kind words and for your interest, and don't be too hard on yourself. I was basically the same way until it affected my immediate family, and certainly there are many people coping with far more horrific circumstances.
"Great story on Jay Cutler! I was actually diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes while I was in college. As you can understand, it was quite a shock. Through my experience with diabetes, I became very interested in medicine and eventually enrolled in medical school. I'm proud to say I will be graduating from medical school tomorrow (5/17/08) and will begin training to become a pediatric endocrinologist. It saddens me to know that Jay Cutler will have to live with diabetes, but I'm excited to think how he can turn it into something positive and help countless others. Thanks for getting the message about diabetes to the many people who will read your article!"
Congratulations, Doctor! You're as awesome a role model as I can imagine.
"I just want to comment on the article you wrote about Jay Cutler and his newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetes, and your struggle as well. I'm a 25-year-old teacher and I was diagnosed with Type 1 in the summer of '06. Talk about culture shock. I remember feeling sorry for myself and asking 'Why me?' for a long time. I'm not nearly as athletically gifted as Cutler is, or probably as wild as your 9-year-old, but I've always considered myself active. I played club sports and intramurals all throughout my four years at Rutgers, and I'm still very much active. I also ate whatever I wanted and drank my share of 'adult beverages,' so to find out as a 23-year-old man that the reason I was going to the bathroom so much and downing bottles of water and glasses of orange juice like I was getting paid to do it was quite a shock. Like Cutler, I lost about 35 pounds in a month and to find out it was because of diabetes just blew my mind. I guess what I'm getting at with this is that it is nice to read an article about a diabetic athlete written by someone who understands the disease. Hell, there's probably still stuff that I don't know 100 percent about this condition, but it is good to see that the word is getting out there. Maybe with more attention given to players like Cutler or (Adam) Morrison, more people might begin to see that this is a disease that should have more done toward finding a cure for it. I'm sitting alone in my classroom right now and it was just great to see this article on the Yahoo! Sports main page and that it was an article that made all the sense in the world to me. In your article you mentioned that Cutler said he receives emails for kids all the time about diabetes, I was wondering if you maybe knew what that address was because, like I'm doing with you, I want to thank him for getting put in the position of becoming a role model to kids, and to myself, that diabetes does not have to end you life and stop you from doing what you love. You are a strong man for doing what you do for your son, much the same way my parents have aided me through this too. Hopefully, Jay Cutler, your son and I will be able to talk about the time when we USED to have diabetes. Thank you."
From what I can tell, Cutler can be reached through his foundation at email@example.com. I wish I could go on printing emails like these, and I really appreciate and am overwhelmed by the many responses I've received from people within the Type I community – and from others who obviously care a great deal. On a less-important note, I also was pleased to get so many suggestions about how to handle the demotion of Reading from the English Premier League, and whether I should adopt a temporary replacement until the Royals fight their way back up. I will publish and address some of these thoughtful emails in a Trippin' column to come.
"I can't dislike you anymore! I really detest your stupid parodies of songs and most of your work sucks HOWEVER … the piece you did on Cutler's diabetes was over the moon. I never imagined that I would say this but you wrote one excellent article that time. You did more to HELP people understand diabetes than all the doctors and advertisements could ever hope to. You were succinct and factual! It came across with heartfelt warmth and compassion. I may not like how you write most of your stuff but this shows a side I would never have guessed. Thank you, from all of us Diabetics!"
Tarpon Springs, Fla.
"Michael, your riffing on Lofa Tatupu to the tune of a great song from the Beach Boys was inspired. I cheered for his dad as kid and live close to the town he grew up in. But, it raises one question about Roger Goodell. Is his goal as Commish to make every NFL'er call him 'Daddy'?"
"Michael, I absolutely had tears rolling down my face laughing at your song dedication to the anchor of the 'Hawks D, Lofa Tatupu. As a public interest attorney who drives an '88 Camry, Lofa's choice of ride makes perfect sense. It does boggle the mind, however, to think that the 2006 Accent could bring Lofa and four friends to freeway speed. I have to think there's some sort of marketing play here for Hyundai, no? America's Best Warranty meets America's Best Linebacker? Love the column, keep it up."
Thanks, though I can't see Lofa turning this to his marketing advantage without incurring the wrath of Daddy – who will surely take his T-Bird away in retaliation.
"In your column you mentioned drinking straight out of the bottle toasting the california supreme court. I sure it was not for their decision on gay marriages. No 4 idiots in black robes should be able to override the will of the people.!!!!! !"
You are surely mistaken – I was absolutely celebrating that historic decision. Listen, I know that marriage is taken very seriously in Las Vegas, but how about letting me and my fellow Californians handle this situation?
"Michael, Brian Urlacher – regardless of his bad grammar and flagrant use of profanity – is worth every penny anyone wants to put his way. I think he could use a reality check from time to time, but I think that came with the past season. Please tell the Bears – which you know I love desperately – that they need to find some way to keep him happy! Urlacher is the face of the franchise and needs to stay. I understand his point, but he does make more money than God – not necessarily Ditka – anyway. Thanks Michael for your coverage and as always keep up the good writing."
I'll tell you this about Urlacher – he knows better than to bring that bad grammar around Trippin' headquarters.
"Dude, I read this and I just wish the guy was in front up of me so I could "shut the **^ up you rich Mo%$%# F%$#%^!" God, so irritating he wants more money. What he can't live his life with 54 million??"
Really? That's what you wish? Uh, right. Actually, you don't. Trust me.
"Why doesn't someone shoot these primadonna whores? 5 million a year and I am not refusing a damn thing. How many people get that kind of opportunity. I implore you to change your career now."
Among the reasons someone doesn't shoot highly paid professional athletes like Urlacher who ask for more money: 1) It's sort of against the law and 2) It would screw up their fantasy drafts.
"Your style is extremely pedantic. Yahoo! should enact a maximum word quota on your column to minimize the ego-laden stream of consciousness ejaculate on my monitor. You would be much more endearing if you kept your self-efficacy in check. Get away from the West Coast and realize the benefits of humility."
Let me put this succinctly: I appreciate the advice, but I think I'll try to remain a couple of times zones away from your computer monitor.
"u r crazy self absorbing punk who feels sorry yall sorry butts drunk driving is that. where can we meet to go over somethings"
Anywhere you'd like … as long as I can bring a bodyguard, psychologist and translator.