We are St. Louis, and we are awesome.
They can strip away our NFL team, they can scoff at our efforts to build a new NFL stadium, but they can’t snatch our confidence because, right here, right now, we will harness it, we will cradle it and we will carry it into the next year and years, because we are St. Louis, and we are awesome.
This is our moment. We can control and define our post-Rams postmortem today, right now. Yes, we are worn down by the Rams’ decision to move. It all feels emasculating, we can’t deny this reality. But it’s all about how we react from it, and how we mentally approach our posts — be it as fans or politicians or corporate executives or forward-thinkers – both in our sports community and, really, in our whole community. We need to rise and galvanize; we cannot fall into the trap of thinking we’re less than we are, just because we got dumped.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience,” Martin Luther King Jr. said, “but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
I will say this: We must gulp and acknowledge that some of our own city leaders dropped the ball on making renovations to the dome, like the Rams’ lease said must happen. Would that have saved the Rams? Or delayed the inevitable? We don’t know. But there are lessons there, lessons for the next time. The only way we can grow from this divorce, and ascend from this divorce, is to acknowledge missteps and then step forward. They won’t botch a potential Major League Soccer lease, I’ll tell you that.
So my favorite song ever might be the worst song ever. Follow me on this one. When I was a boy in St. Louis, they made this seemingly preposterous propaganda in the form of a pop song. Yes, 1987’s “Sold on St. Louis” was a music video featuring Fredbird playing the sax in front of the Arch, a smooth serenader rocking a Cosby sweater, and backup singers with hair sprayed hair so high, you could hide a baby in there.
But the song was infectious, and the lyrics just stuck with you:
“Let’s spread the word around, let’s talk about this town, it’s St. Louis!”
“We’re shooting for the top, we’re never gonna stop, it’s St. Louis – got to be St. Louis!”
“Let everyone you know, everywhere you go, I’m sold on St. Louis, I’m sold!”
Simple statements, but honestly, this call-to-action makes some sense (coincidentally, an NFL team left St. Louis shortly after that song came out).
See, I sense that some people here, even before the Rams move, were a little ashamed of St. Louis. We put ourselves down a lot. And think about when you’re out of town, and how you answer the question: “Where are you from?” Do you hesitate or answer with an addendum? Do you make an excuse? This is a little thing, sure, but it speaks to the fiber of who were are.
And we are St. Louis, and we are awesome.
We can’t let the Rams leaving define us. We can’t be a sad sack of a city, it’s a bad look. We are still St. Louis, and we are an authentic sports town – we were 15 years ago, we were 15 days ago, we are today. We are at our best united, sharing the Cardinals and the Blues with one another, feeding off that energy. Perhaps there was no more fitting St. Louis moment this week than Tuesday, at the Blues game, when a loud crowd chanted: “Kroen-ke (stinks)! Kroen-ke (stinks)!”
And maybe this is just the timing for a Cardinals season in which the team is, for a change, the underdog.
The Cubs knocked them out of the playoffs and then signed their best player. And the Royals won the World Series. The Cards, on paper, might not even be the best team in the state, let alone the division. But perhaps this is fitting for our reinvigorated mindset, appreciating the process, taking nothing for granted. For the fans, this could make it all so much more rewarding.
And for St. Louisans, in the manner we ourselves approach hurdles going forward – again, as fans or politicians or corporate executives or forward-thinkers – our attitude will fuel our behavior. Don’t survive the day; attack the day. Every one of us. Don’t survive the day, and just “get through it;” attack the day, each endeavor, with confidence and vigor.
I’m not here to play a naive role. Things I admit: 1. The song story was cheesy. 2. Losing the Rams really does hurt. 3. Many St. Louisans are out of a job because of the move. 4. Our city has so many major issues, from violence and schools to racism and political lethargy and social misunderstanding.
OK. All of this is noted.
It would be easy to pull a coach Jeff Fisher and, in reference to our city’s problems, just say: “We’ll fix it.” Progress isn’t simple. But it starts with a mindset. Seek invigoration. Stan Kroenke and Roger Goodell already got what they want, don’t let them also take St. Louis’ confidence and pride, because we are still St. Louis, and we are still awesome.