NFL

NFL AM: Welcome Back, Los Angeles Rams

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NFL owners approve moving the Rams back to Los Angeles:

After 21 years in St. Louis, the Rams are the Los Angeles Rams again. Tuesday night owners voted 30-2 to allow the franchise to relocate to Los Angeles where the team will likely be joined by the San Diego Chargers or possibly Oakland Raiders.

While there’s still another shoe to drop in San Diego, they will have the first opportunity to join the Rams in L.A., but if they don’t decide to make the move, the Raiders will have an opportunity to do so next.

It seems as if Rams owner Stan Kroenke came away from the meeting as the biggest winner, as Oakland Raiders’ owner Mark Davis opened his statements after the vote by saying, “this is not a win for the Raiders,” while talking about how his team will continue searching for a new home, and even implying that the team could look outside of Oakland or Los Angeles.

The Chargers might get the first opportunity to join Kroenke and the Rams in L.A., but Chargers owner Dean Spanos preferred the Carson California plan over the Inglewood plan that passed Tuesday night.

As exciting as the news was for Rams fans in California, the people of St. Louis are left angry after the city came up with a last minute plan for a new stadium.

“The NFL ignored the facts, the loyalty of St. Louis fans, who supported the team through far more downs than ups, and the NFL ignored a strong market and viable plan for a new stadium,” St. Louis mayor Francis Slay said in a statement. “I am proud of our effort and what St. Louis was able to accomplish in an extraordinarily short period of time. I thank everyone who worked so diligently on this project, especially the Governor’s Task Force.”

Kroenke, who clearly is excited to move the team to Los Angeles, tried to be measured with his words in the face of tough questions and assertions from many in St. Louis that he wanted to move the team regardless of efforts by the city to prevent that. The Rams owner called the process the most difficult thing he’s done professionally, and called the announcement very bittersweet.

“This has been the most difficult process of my professional career,” Kroenke said. “While we are excited about the prospect of building a new stadium in Inglewood, California, this is bitter sweet. St. Louis is a city known for its incredibly hard-working, passionate and proud people. Being part of the group that brought the NFL back to St. Louis in 1995 is one of the proudest moments of my professional career. Reaching two Super Bowls and winning one are things all St. Louisans should always treasure.”

However, Kroenke didn’t hesitate to throw the blame for the team relocating back on the city, stating that he had worked on trying to get a new deal for over a decade, and only looked into moving when it seemed there would be no way to get a new facility there.

“While there understandably has been emotionally charged commentary regarding our motives and intentions, the speculation is not true and unfounded,” Kroenke said. “I am a Missouri native named after two St. Louis sports legends who I was fortunate enough to know on a personal level. This move isn’t about whether I love St. Louis or Missouri. I do and always will. No matter what anyone says, that will never change. This decision is about what is in the best long-term interests of the Rams organization and the National Football League. We have negotiated in good faith with the Regional Sports Authority for more than a decade trying to find a viable and sustainable solution. When it became apparent that we might not be able to reach an agreement, it was then and only then that we looked at alternatives.”

The problem for Kroenke is that St. Louis did have a plan. It might have taken longer than he wanted, but the city did come up with a plan, and the Rams owner did not decide to pull out of Los Angeles despite the fact that two other teams were ready to move there as well.

At the end of the day, it seems Kroenke was determined to make the move, and that’s a shame for St. Louis. Football in Los Angeles is good for the NFL, or at least the league thinks it is. Is it worth ripping a franchise from a passionate fan base? I guess that’s up for the league to decide.

San Diego Chargers have option to move to San Diego:

Dean Spanos may have preferred to move his team to Carson, California instead of the newly approved Inglewood site where the Rams begin play in 2019, but the Chargers owner comes away from the Tuesday night meetings with more options than he walked into the meeting with, and for Spanos, that’s a step in the right direction.

Spanos hasn’t committed to moving to Los Angeles, and the NFL has offered San Diego an additional $100 million to help build a stadium in San Diego if he decides to keep the team where it is.

There’s no question that like any city with an NFL franchise, San Diego wants the team to stay, but Mayor Kevin Faulconer doesn’t sound like he wants to beg the team to hang around.

“Today, NFL owners rejected the Chargers’ bid to move to Carson,” Faulconer and county Supervisor Chairman Ron Roberts said in a joint statement. “If Mr. Spanos has a sincere interest in reaching a fair agreement in San Diego, we remain committed to negotiating in good faith. We are not interested in a charade by the Chargers if they continue to pursue Los Angeles.”

The Chargers have until the owners meetings in March to decide if they’re going to play their 2016 season in the Los Angeles or in San Diego.

Chandler Jones overdosed on pills over weekend:

There are a lot of ways to spend your bye week if you’re one of the top seeds in the NFL playoffs, but overdosing on pills isn’t the best idea.

Despite the fact that the defensive end hasn’t missed practice since, New England Patriots’ Chandler Jones reportedly overdosed on pills this past weekend.

Boston radio station WEEI first reported that Jones had overdosed this weekend at a teammate’s house, but the tweet was deleted and replaced with one that didn’t say where Jones was at the time of his overdose.

It is unknown what kind of pills Jones had ingested before the allegedOD, but it brings up many more questions. If Jones was on pain pills, there’s a good chance he took them because of football injuries. Whether he’s dependent on the drugs or just taking them recreationally, there’s a good chance it’s because of the culture of NFL football. These young men feel the pressures of being on the football field, and that leads them to pump their bodies full of pain meds to make it happen. Whether it leads to dependency, recreational use, or just overuse, there’s always a great risk when regularly taking pain meds.

While Brett Favre is probably the most famous face of prescription pain medication addiction in the NFL, he’s far from the only case. While we don’t know that is what led to Jones’ overdose, it once again shines a light on the NFL’s drug policies.

With the addictiveness of prescription pain medication, and the growing evidence of the benefits of marijuana for both pain, and for issues of the brain, it’s time the NFL stop testing its players for the drug, and start testing the drug, for its players.

The medical world has seen amazing advancements through the use of marijuana in children with severe Epilepsy, and it’s time the NFL look into the potential benefits for those suffering with CTE.   If nothing else, the NFL should join the NBA in looking the other way if their players smoke pot. Yes, that needs to be said. With all of the crap we allow these young men to pump into themselves to stay on the field, and cope with the pain off of it, it’s an absolute travesty to test them for marijuana.


About Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan has covered the NFL for almost a decade and is a host and producer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers radio flagship 620WDAE/95.3FM. Pat covers the NFC South and NFC East for Football Insiders. Follow him on Twitter, @PatDonovanNFL.