Per every NFL reporter on earth, Sam Bradford is set to be traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in an extremely rare 1-for-1 starting quarterback swap. Nick Foles becomes the next quarterback enigma to line up for the Rams, but he will be waiting in the green room in this article. This one is about Sam, about the Rams, and about my time as a blogger here in St Louis.
When RamsHerd.com launched, it was 2009 and all we had was the withered husk of Marc Bulger, a new front office led by Billy Devaney, and a slow march to the #1 pick in the 2010 draft. Whoever got picked number 1 that year — and we were led to believe it was a four-horse race between Bradford, Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy and … Jimmy Clausen? are we sure about that? — was going to become the new face of the Rams franchise.
And boy, if the goal was to pick a guy to hang the struggles of the past five years on, did Devaney ever get it right.
Everything the Rams did (or didn’t do) after drafting Bradford became a statement about Bradford. And everything that Bradford did or didn’t do as a franchise quarterback became a statement about the Rams.
From the cautious superlatives of his rookie year (“Promising,” “Up and coming,” “Oddly conservative”) to the much more dour and derisive words in the years to follow. And yet while players, coaches, scouts, executives, and even lowly equipment managers fell victim to the bad consequences that followed, Bradford stayed. He stayed in the huddle, and when he couldn’t do that, he stayed on the sideline.
That’s how potent the promise of a franchise player is. He stayed in the narrative of the Rams even when he could no longer suit up and play. Never a guy to put himself in front of a microphone or on a camera, Bradford’s only opportunity to change that narrative would come on the field, or not at all. And given that he last played in a meaningful game in October 2013, that’s a lot of “not at all.”
In a year-round NFL news cycle, that’s 73 consecutive weeks in which the narrative of the Rams has remained in perfect stasis. The ghost of Sam Bradford’s potential was in every press conference, every national media mention, every snarky Rotoworld fantasy forecast. During that time, the Rams drafted a gay player, had straight sex on Instagram, played host to race riots in the parking lots, pretty much packed their bags for Los Angeles, and the pendulum in each and every one of those events always swung back to “Yeah, but you’re still counting on Sam Bradford, right? Good luck with that.” Verily, there the hot take endeth.
And Jeff Fisher, for his part, did nothing to change that. Whenever prompted, Fisher would underline “Sam Bradford is our quarterback.” To the point of absurdity, and past that. But I guess even Fisher has his breaking point.
Now, with Sam Bradford gone, it’s all up for grabs. Whether or not they’re better (that’s an argument for the next several months), suddenly this is a different Rams team. This is a different team that Saint Louis and Los Angeles are fighting over. This is a different team that enters the 2015 draft.
This is a different team now than the one I first pinned my post-Martzian hopes on when RamsHerd.com opened its doors.
So perhaps it’s fitting that I admit what has become increasingly obvious: that RamsHerd.com is effectively closed.
Since this site launched in 2009, my own story has gone through its changes. I’ve helped raise a son from diapers to elementary school, and a daughter from (full head of hair on my head) to (somewhere between that and Scott Wells). I’ve moved from a freelance life to a steady job, from my thirties to my forties, and from a “starter house” of twelve years into what hopefully will be “The House” for the foreseeable future. And in that time, my blogging velocity has dropped well below an acceptable level for maintaining a relevant site, especially in the year-round NFL media calendar. (My tweet game is still pretty good though.)
I’ve had the pleasure of working with some incredibly talented writers and seeing them use this site as a platform to go on to great things. To borrow a thought on legacy from the NFL coaching world: if you can’t be measured in championships, you can always lean on your coaching tree.
However, my time writing on the Rams isn’t fully done. Someone named Moe JcAtee at TurfShowTimes kindly extended an invitation to do some…
… some writing over …
… over there, and he seems to …
… seems to be a pretty energetic guy with a pretty clear take on the new direction of the Rams.
And, as the granddaddy blog to us all, TST is where I had gotten my start in football writing. (I still have the #3 Google result for “Rams+Joseph+Conrad” under my belt over there. Doubt I ever live up to that lofty standard again.) Tim Shields, one of the best we’ve had here, will be contributing at TST as well.
These are new times. Different times. I don’t know what they’ll bring. I don’t know where my team is going. But it’s a new start, that much we can say for sure.