The Rams' futility on the field is only matched by its embarrassing marketing of the team off it.
St. Louis is a great, great sports town. I can't stress that enough. In all three professional teams' fan bases you're going to find diehards that I would put up against any other city's most ardent supporters. The Cardinals might have the biggest fan base, but the Blues and Rams (and Gridbirds) have proud histories in their own right... which makes it difficult to swallow what has just taken place.
The Rams have a new mascot. And his name is Rampage.
Be completely honest with me now -- you're mortified, aren't you? I am. I definitely am.
Because this is how the rest of the NFL perceives the St. Louis Rams -- as the butt of any and all jokes. As a place that is more concerned about running contests that make up terribly generic names for a mutated llama wearing a ram head. You know what my friend the Cowboy fan just sent me? It was a picture of Dez Bryant working out with Miles Austin with the caption "out offseason improvement."
I don't have a response.
Dealing with Rams personnel isn't something we can affect much change on. The front office doesn't care what you think and probably never will. But the marketing of the team we have and the atmosphere that they create for us on game day? That we certainly can impact.
So before we go and gear up for another 10-plus losses in 2010, let's look back on a long and distinguished history of completely insane marketing decisions from a team that somehow still gets people to pay for its products, despite its best efforts to drive everyone away.
Yellow Noodles: Distributed during the playoffs in the 1999 dream season, the "Yellow Noodles" are sadly overlooked in the hallowed halls of Stupid U. These roughly 3-foot long yellow foam ‘fingers' were emblazoned with some corporate sponsor and the Rams logo. We're still not clear on what the Rams expected us to do with these things... but at the time everyone was drunk so we kind of went with it.
In retrospect, has there ever been a less intimidating gimmick for a magical post-season run? Are we sure that the Vikings didn't lay a complete egg because of how stupid we all looked, as opposed to the brilliance of Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk? Is it possible that we can blame these ill-fated noodles on the scourge of humanity known as the "thundersticks?"
I spent at least 10 minutes of historic playoff games in a seat whipping my brother and dad with these things. This shouldn't have happened.
The Drum Corps: Words really can't do the cringe worthiness of this idea justice. Ripped off from the Falcons (RED FLAG!) for the 2007 season, the Rams Drum Corps was exactly what it sounds like. People dressed in horribly fitting track suits pounding on drums.
Perhaps marketing got a focus group obsessed with Nick Cannon. Or maybe Stan Kroenke was a hometown parade enthusiast. But this gameday dud got green-lit, and we fans were treated to the most obnoxious rhythm section ever assembled.
They'd prance around on field with some loosely choreographed moves before the game, then transition into the crowd during play, all the time building as much enthusiasm for the Rams as a brutal genocide would.
You know what 60-year-old white guys that sit in the lower bowl of the EJD like? Young girls with big boobs. Not drum lines.
Then again, if they would have played Taps at the end of each game in 2007, this would have been the greatest idea in the history of the Rams. The line between awfulness and iconic is very thin here people.
Jazzercise: Jazzercise in and of itself isn't evil. Post-menopausal women trying to work off excess weight by lightly drifting in and out of dance to Peter Cetera melodies is what it is—not my thing, but I can't see the harm in it existing.
Until you make it the halftime show. Then? RAGE.
White hot rage.
White hot rage at the pure gall of the St. Louis Rams thinking that any man, woman or child that wasn't completely off-tilt would enjoy this display during halftime of a NFL football game.
Why don't they personally deliver a slap to my face to my seat? It'd be a more efficient way to insult my patronage.
US Fidelis: In a 2009 season where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, you probably forgot that the biggest sponsor of the Rams was the now criminally charged enterprise called US Fidelis.
On shaky ground with the Attorney General at the beginning of 2009 for allegedly not paying out claims on the extended car warranties the company sold, the Rams decided that this was DEFINITELY the company that needed to be all over the Rams game day experience.
Presumably the Rams were getting extremely well-paid on this sponsorship, or were compensated up front for their considerations, since new stories detailing the awful way US Fidelis conducted business was dovetailing perfectly with one of the most brutal football seasons St. Louis had ever seen.
It's almost like they knew!
More bad ideas that keep happening:
Hastily put together retirement-of-number ceremonies—Not like this is a big day for these guys or anything. Go ahead and feel free to call those long forgotten buddies of yours, pomp and circumstance.
PA announcer with a special emphasis on third and... —Third down? Really? You mean if the Rams make a stop here, the other team will punt? Thanks for reminding me, Jim Holder's Replacement.
Bands—A 400 acre cornfield has better acoustics than the EJD. What's the point of running these kids out there to perform when no one can hear a single note?
Encouraging Pro-Bowl votes for a 1-15 team—I'm not voting for these guys. I know you signed a deal with sponsors to run this all season long, but really, aren't you just getting them negative ROI by continuing to insult our intelligence?
In the interest of being fair, the Rams have had a few successes in the past 15 years:
Military Salute—Cheap way to get the crowd charged up coming out of a time out? Probably. But still, it's a nice moment for the crowd to get to thank a military man or woman that deserve our respect.
Frisbee Dogs—The ONLY halftime show for which more people stay seated than leave for the restroom or concession stand. One of the few halftime shows that draws big cheers. That and Pee-Wee football, although they've seemed to have gotten a little greedy with that hook and used the tykes several times last year. Once is enough.
Rams LOL—It's people, more specifically men, getting hit in the groin. Besides the symbolism of this being played by the time the Rams are down by 25 points, people getting hit in the apple sack is just funny. Every time.
Cheerleader Profiles—I want to LEARN!
Falling Stuff—We have a dome, so dropping crap from the rafters is never not a good idea. Footballs with parachutes seem to be the norm, but really, anything would work. Anyone who has attended Rams games in the past three years knows that fourth quarters are spent staring up at the ceiling, wondering what we'd do if we could get up in those catwalks.