Other than continuing to be a crumb in Stan Kroenke’s caviar, perhaps the best part about St. Louis continuing to push forward in its ongoing legal battle against the NFL is imagining what it would be like for men who twist the truth as easily as they tie their ties to realize legal discovery cannot be stopped by The Shield.
Jeff Fisher is one of these men.
The former coach of the Rams wants back in, whether it’s coaching or broadcasting or something, anything.
He’s less gruff, more humorous these days.
He’s easier to like than we remember.
But when Fisher starts talking about relocation, he can’t help but make it obvious why the NFL’s legal team does not want anyone talking about the relocation rip-job under oath in a St. Louis courtroom.
Post-Dispatch colleague Joel Currier reported earlier this month that the NFL wants the U.S. Supreme Court to hear why the lawsuit over the team’s 2016 departure to Los Angeles should be settled in closed-door arbitration, the more private and less formal alternative to traditional litigation.
Rams owner Kroenke and his associates believe “irreparable harm” will be caused if this fight is not settled “outside of court in an efficient and cost-saving manner.”
Fisher took a risk when he agreed to be interviewed on local broadcaster Tim McKernan’s podcast. Few have tracked the fine details of the relocation rip-job like McKernan. If Fisher expected softballs, he thought wrong.
Fisher sounded authentic as he expressed his love for St. Louis. He explained how he came to peace with wisecracks about his record, specifically the 7-9 jokes he has embraced on social media. But when McKernan shifted the topic to relocation, Fisher started flopping like a fish.
Some context is necessary.
Post-Dispatch reporter Jim Thomas, citing multiple league sources, reported in 2012 that Fisher exited his interview for the Rams job with concerns about the team moving to Los Angeles.
“You know, there were a lot of things that were discussed going forward,” Fisher told the Post-Dispatch at that time. “I’m not going to go into specifics right now.”
Former Rams defensive back Cortland Finnegan told the Post-Dispatch in 2016 that Fisher told the team about a transition to Los Angeles as early as 2013.
And then there are Fisher’s own public comments during a Los Angeles radio interview after he was fired by the Rams in 2016, when the former coach said he was aware of the team’s plans to leave St. Louis before he took the job.
“I took a year off in 2011,” Fisher said then. “I was very fortunate to have some options. I decided on L.A. — or St. Louis at the time — knowing that there was going to be a pending move.”
These examples are just a few on a long list of damning remarks made by Rams employees. Add them up, and it becomes clear that the Rams were never really interested in finding a solution in St. Louis.
St. Louis gave the Rams a bad lease. The Rams and the league had bad intentions. Efforts to keep the team were never going to work.
The league’s relocation rules are a sham, and the city, county and dome authority’s lawsuit against the Rams, the league and its teams aims to prove it.
Fisher could tell the truth. But Fisher wants back in. So, Fisher flops.
Here’s what a sometimes-stammering Fisher told McKernan when asked if relocation was a theme during his interview for the Rams job:
“No. I don’t. There was. You know. He. There was a point in the, in our visit, which lasted over a weekend, where, you know, the discussion came up. But that always comes up, you know. Stan wanted to hire the best available person to run his football team, along with Kevin (Demoff). And I happened to be that guy. So, I wasn’t hired because I had — in my opinion now — because I had moved a franchise.”
I can’t imagine many interviews of potential NFL coaches spend much time on relocation. But if it is a topic that always comes up, why was Fisher so concerned about it back then? Does this sound bogus to anyone else? Let’s proceed.
Here’s how Fisher answered when asked how to square his new stance with the comment he made on L.A. radio, the one about knowing about the “pending move” when he was hired:
“No. It didn’t come up. Um. I did not sit in front of Stan and have a discussion: ‘Well, hey, you know, we are probably gonna be out of here in two or three years if I can make things work out there.’ That did not come up. This thing came up quickly. You know, obviously, at the end of that final year there in St. Louis, you know, the rumors started, and now you’ve got the attorneys involved, and all that stuff. Stadiums. All those things.”
Fisher was fibbing then or now. Both can’t be true. Which one doesn’t pass your sniff test?
Here’s Fisher when asked about Finnegan’s comment, the one about Fisher telling the team about the move years before it happened.
“Well, I mean, there’s talk. The talk was taking place for three or four years. When you have talk and speculation, you have a topic. And I think that’s what he (Finnegan) is referring to. But if you are trying to get me to say to the listeners that I knew when I took that job, no, I didn’t. Um. I can’t say I would have turned the job down had I known at that moment they were going to be moving.”
The NFL and Kroenke share the same playbook.
Delay. Delay. Delay.
Appeal. Appeal. Appeal.
Hope your opponent runs short on patience and money.
Above all, avoid discovery and courtrooms and statements under oath.
I hope the fight continues until these men have to tell the truth.
Fisher would not be the only one flopping.