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Rosenbloom looks back as era ends for Rams, NFL

Rosenbloom looks back as era ends for Rams, NFL

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ATLANTA • In what amounted to his farewell address as the Rams' controlling owner, Chip Rosenbloom took a stroll down memory lane Wednesday with NFL owners.

He talked about how his father, Carroll Rosenbloom, stepped forward to buy the Baltimore Colts in 1953 when the NFL needed a 12th team.

He mentioned the 1958 championship game between the Colts and the New York Giants, an overtime thriller still considered by many to be the greatest NFL game ever played.

He recalled the first NFL game he ever attended — Super Bowl III in Miami, Jan. 12, 1969. That's the game in which quarterback Joe Namath and the New York Jets of the upstart AFL registered a stunning 16-7 upset of the Colts in the Orange Bowl in Miami. Rosenbloom was 4 at the time.

He reminisced about the feel-good story of the '99 Rams, and the team's amazing rise from worst to first with former grocery clerk Kurt Warner leading them to a Super Bowl title.

And he paid respects to his mother, Georgia Frontiere, who died of breast cancer on Jan. 18, 2008, triggering a series of events that led to the sale of the team.

When Rosenbloom was finished with his remarks, NFL team owners and executives applauded, something that doesn't happen very often at league meetings. A few minutes later, club owners unanimously approved Stan Kroenke's bid to purchase controlling interest in the Rams. A formal vote wasn't even taken; Kroenke was approved by acclaim.

All in favor ... All opposed ...

Thus ended 57 years in which the Rosenbloom family held a controlling interest in an NFL team, spanning Carroll Rosenbloom; his wife, Georgia Frontiere; and for the past 2 1/2 years, their children, Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez.

The family owned the Baltimore Colts for 19 years, and then in one of the most remarkable trades in sports history, Carroll Rosenbloom swapped franchises — trading the Colts for the Los Angeles Rams in 1972.

All things considered, that made Wednesday an emotional day for Chip Rosenbloom.

"It's a bittersweet day, but when we set out in the sales process to find a buyer, we looked for someone who would be a good owner for the team and the NFL," Rosenbloom said. "And we feel we have that person in Stan Kroenke.

"We feel good that someone who's been so loyal and committed to St. Louis and who's been with the team for so long and has been a friend to us for so long has taken the reins. Stan has been great about really having us continue to be part of the Rams family."

Kroenke has been minority owner of the Rams since the franchise moved to St. Louis in 1995. Under terms of Wednesday's sales agreement, Kroenke immediately buys only 30 percent of the 60 percent share of the team held by Rosenbloom and Rodriguez. He will purchase the remaining 30 percent at a later date. Even when that happens, Rosenbloom and Rodriguez will continue to have a role with the team, particularly in the area of community service projects and charitable endeavors.

"Chip and I look forward to continuing our work in the community on behalf of the team and the people of St. Louis," Rodriguez said in a statement.

(She was unable to attend Wednesday's owners meetings because of a sinus infection.)

Rosenbloom made it a point to stay out of the spotlight Wednesday. He respectfully declined an invitation to join Kroenke at a news conference following the owners' vote. And he quietly checked out of the hotel where the meetings were held a couple of hours before the meeting concluded, heading to the airport for the flight back home.

Before he left, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell privately and publicly thanked the Rosenbloom family. As did Kroenke.

"I want to thank the Rosenbloom family," Kroenke said. "They've been great partners."

Jim Irsay, owner of what is now the Indianapolis Colts, said: "We go back and connect with the Rosenblooms a long way. But I think Stan will be outstanding, and that's the main reason this was able to be accomplished today."

During the two seasons in which Rosenbloom had controlling interest in the team, the Rams won only three of 32 games. But he made several tough decisions, including the firing of Scott Linehan four games into the 2008 season, and a radical reshaping of the front office that included the departure of president of football operations Jay Zygmunt and a less visible role for team president John Shaw. Both had been team executives for nearly 30 years.

For his part, Kroenke didn't want to dwell Wednesday on what's gone wrong with the Rams in the recent past.

"I think the Rosenbloom family, they lost Georgia, they had a lot of things to do," Kroenke said. "We've had a successful transition here working with the Rosenbloom family at this stage. So we're going to go forward, and really that's what we're going to focus on."

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