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THE ST. LOUIS RAMS : She’s St. Louis’ Misery, and It Can Have Her

Oldest NFL widow sells all.

Georgia Frontiere officially sold the Rams down the river Tuesday, the river being the Mississippi. She stood in front of a room in St. Louis and said she couldn’t remember ever being so happy, a few days after saying that she felt just awful about having to do this to the people of Southern California. I bet she can speak this stuff and drink a glass of water at the same time.

Actually, what the majority owner (and Mata Hari) of the late Los Angeles Rams said at her big coming-out party in Missouri was, “I don’t know if I’ve been this happy since the last game we won.” Funny, funny stuff. Roseanne, Ellen, Georgia . . . next fall’s comedy lineup on ABC.

Management--and I use the word loosely--of the Rams tore down this team, piece by piece, pad by pad, then sold it like a chop-shop sells a Corvette. This team that has been so completely mismanaged is St. Louis’ problem now, and wait until the suckers there get stuck paying the tab. You people think Orange County is broke, wait until you pay for those Ram season tickets.

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Carroll Rosenbloom left Georgia Rosenbloom his football team in his will. This was the beginning of the end for the Rams, who were once such a prize. Carroll nourished them here, Georgia killed them here. She took one of the great organizations in sports, turned it into a national joke, then packed up her circus tent and hit the road. Thanks for dropping by.

The images we retain. Players walking out of a Christmas-week playoff game, carrying Cabbage Patch Dolls given them by Georgia as gifts. Trust me, this was not the way the 49ers motivated their players.

Or I can still see Frontiere--standing there wearing bunny-rabbit earrings--introducing the coach who was going to turn this team around, her old friend, Chuck Knox. A man who went out and actually made the team worse, just when you thought such a thing wasn’t possible.

John Shaw can grab some blame here himself. He had a big say-so in such decisions. He can take the blame for the Rams going downhill faster than Alberto Tomba, same as he can take the credit for making Frontiere a much richer woman. I call it the Shaw redemption. The man sat there and took bids like Bob Barker. Well, congratulations and spend it all in one place.

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At least Frontiere, Shaw and the rest of the Ram carpetbaggers haven’t loaded up the vans at midnight to sneak out of town. No, they were totally up-front about their money lust, landing a deal that has been described as the most lucrative in the history of sports. Personally, I hope they choke on it.

The Rams gave us bad football and turned it into no football. Tens of thousands would have been out there on Sundays if there was something worth watching. Put a winning team in Anaheim and tell us what time you want us to be there for kickoff. That’s all we asked.

As far as I’m concerned, St. Louis can have them. I hope they keep the horns on their helmets and keep their colors exactly the way they are, unless Georgia wants to dress them in peach.

At a time when the San Diego Chargers are demonstrating exactly what can be done with a little effort, a little expenditure, an innovative coach and a front office so willing to be flexible that the owner gets out of everybody’s hair, the Rams can do nothing more than peddle themselves to the highest bidder.

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Frontiere would have sold this team to an Arab sheik if she could have made another $20 million. She would have stepped inside a tent, bowed before the assembled Saudi investors and called it her happiest day since the game against Denver.

In its desperation to buy a team, any team, the city of St. Louis rolled over and begged. You say you need $4,500 for the right to apply for a season ticket? Sure, our fans all have forty-five hundred sitting around doing nothing. We accept.

You say you want full use of our new stadium? Sure, stick a big “A” on it if you like. We accept. You say you want us to make good around 30 mil of your old lease? Sure, we’ll buy the whole place and turn it into a drive-in movie. We accept. What else do you Anaheim devils want to shove down our throats--your baseball players?

Ever since losing one to Arizona, the city of St. Louis has wanted another professional football team. Unable to find one, it took the Rams.

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Georgia Frontiere wants us to know she’s sorry.

She sure is.

* GOODBY: In a frenzy of self-congratulation, the Rams were signed, sealed and all but delivered to St. Louis. A1

* OTHER COVERAGE: C4-5

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