The NFL, as Dick Vermeil used to say, is the entertainment business. To make money, the best way for a franchise to operate is to be transparent, to get the fans…through the media…to like the players, and then to play an exciting brand of football.
To this point, the Rams and their Cardiac Kids are doing a great job on all fronts. Jeff Fisher and the organization get it. They make their players available to TV, radio, and the newspapers, and those players are fun and entertaining characters. Fisher himself couldn’t be a better front man, showing calm and confidence despite having the youngest roster in the NFL.
And on the most important front, the Rams have played two really exciting games that have come down to the final minute. Yesterday’s game was one of the most entertaining games I’ve ever been at. The Redskins were chippy and the officials were awful, which gives fans the ability to be thoroughly emotionally invested. Like a movie with a great villain, sports are better with villains. The officials certainly provided enough horrendous calls for us to hate them, but the Redskins’ DeAngelo Hall, old friend London Fletcher, Trent Williams and ultimately Josh Morgan provided enough vitriol for an entire season.
We were so emotionally invested that the 31-28 win was exhilarating. Sam Bradford may have quieted his critics for a week with a 310 yard, three touchdown performance. The remarkable Brandon Gibson is now on pace for sixteen touchdowns after his second TD grab of the season, and Danny Amendola had the best first half of any receiver in NFL history.
Fisher has his team playing hard, which really is all we ask for in St. Louis. But, they proved that if you play hard and play close going into the fourth quarter, many times the opposition will hand you a victory.
The task for the business side of the Rams organization is to energize and engage casual followers. The hard core fans are already there, but to fill the building there are two types of people that need to be convinced to buy tickets. One is the person that likes to attend events for winning teams, that goes to an event to be able to say they were there when they talk to people the next day.
The other fan is the typical hard core Blues-type fan. It’s the person that appreciates a team that competes every play, and reciprocates that person spending their hard earned money on a ticket. The Rams aren’t a marquee team like the Greatest Show on Turf, which drew the crowd that wanted to be seen. But after the first two weeks, that fan that appreciates hard work and competitiveness should be sold.
Fisher knows how to get his players to play hard, and they do. The club overcame the absence of center Scott Wells and the loss of tackle Rodger Saffold and running back Steven Jackson on Sunday and still put 31 points on the board against a defense that was twelfth in the league last year.
When Jeff Fisher was hired, he said his goal was to make the Rams franchise relevant again. That may take some time in league circles and among ticket buyers. But they’re fun again already, and if you want to get your money’s worth from a sports ticket, you can’t go wrong by heading to the dome for a Rams game.