If you didn’t think the NFL hated St. Louis before, there’s strong evidence now.
One of the all-time great St. Louis Rams, offensive tackle Orlando Pace, entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio on Saturday night. To the Hall of Fame’s credit, they inducted Pace and presented him as a member of the ST. LOUIS Rams, and he delivered an excellent speech, thanking his home state of Ohio and reflecting on his days growing up in Sandusky.
As you might expect from the now-St. Louisan, he thanked the Rams fans who supported him as a National Football League player, saying “I’m so proud that we brought that city a championship. Thank you for the support that you gave us during that run. No one can ever take that away from you. Thank you.”
As outlets placed video of Pace’s speech on various platforms, it became notable to me that on the NFL’s official You Tube channel, where the speech will be preserved in perpetuity more than any other place, any mention of St. Louis had been eliminated, including the line thanking the fans of St. Louis.
Of course, NFL owners voted 30-2 to rip a team out of our town despite an offer of $550 million in public money for a new stadium for the team. The league tormented the region with the Gateway Arch prominently displayed at the beginning of their Super Bowl coverage weeks after taking the Rams to Los Angeles.
Then, of course, the NFL stood by silently as the organization mercilessly trolled us.
Now, the league wants to erase the history of the team in St. Louis.
Here’s a breakdown of the length of each of the inductees’ speeches from Saturday night, and the length of the speeches that found their way on to the NFL’s You Tube page…
Actual speech length vs. YouTube length:
Tony Dungy – 17:31 17:31
Brett Favre – 37:18 37:18
Eddie DeBartolo – 27:14 27:14
Kevin Greene – 19:03 19:03
Marvin Harrison – 11:25 11:25
Orlando Pace – 16:49 8:02
What’s missing from the Pace speech on You Tube is Pace referencing Georgia Frontiere, to his coaches in St. Louis, Dick Vermeil and Mike Martz, a reference to St. Louis icon and former offensive line coach Jim Hanifan, and his family, and the note thanking St. Louis fans.
Not only is that an affront to St. Louis, but it’s a slight to one of the league’s own new Hall of Famers.
I spoke to Orlando several times during the process of writing his speech, and he put a lot of work into it. He was eloquent, he was concise, and he tried to help heal a wound that he didn’t inflict. Heck, he even thanked Rams owner Stan Kroenke. But the league saw fit to diminish Pace’s hard work and outstanding speech by taking out half of it, presumably because he thanked fans that the NFL has no use for any more.
With none of the other speeches being edited for You Tube, the only conclusion I can draw from what happened is that the NFL wants to edit St. Louis from its history.
I have trouble finding words for what they did here.
We already know the league doesn’t adhere to its own rules. Yes, they are dishonest. There has been no thanks or apology to the fans of St. Louis by the league since the relocation of the franchise. We know they’re thoughtless. They haven’t tried to stop the ruthless trolling by Kevin Demoff and the organization. We know they’re evil. They did what they did to fatten their own wallets. We know they’re greedy.
But this petty act is beyond any of those. It’s depraved. It’s vicious. It’s vile.
That a league like this, which sells itself as a family league…a league of the people, which aspires to a leadership level in our country…would do something as ruthless as to eliminate part of its history out of spite for a community is unconscionable.
I already hated the NFL for what they did to me and what they did to us here in St. Louis. It’s become quite apparent that they don’t need us.
Commissioner Roger Goodell’s plan is to raise the league’s revenue to $25 billion a year by 2027. Perhaps he’s on his way to reaching that goal. But he’s going to have to do it without me, and hopefully without my town.