It is not exactly a secret that Los Angeles likes Showtime.
It is a market that craves stars. And wants its sports teams to win or it ignores them.
Not surprising the Los Angeles Rams don’t seem to realize that.
When personality challenged owner Stan Kroenke (pictured above) decided to move the Rams from St. Louis to Los Angeles a year ago to play in a new palace he’s building, he overlooked two things.
The first is that Los Angeles has a rather nonchalant attitude towards the NFL. It wasn’t particularly upset when two teams left two decades ago and isn’t exactly turning cartwheels over the fact that two teams are playing their now.
When the Rams played the Oakland Raiders in the Coliseum in a nationally televised preseason game this August, the Rams announced over 56,000 tickets were sold. But only about 20,000 appeared to be in the stands. And the rest of the nation doesn’t seem to care, either. It produced the lowest TV rating for a nationally televised preseason game in 14 years.
The second thing Kroenke overlooked is that a team playing in Los Angeles needs stars. And his sorry team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2004 has only one – defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
If Kroenke and the Rams knew what they were doing (they obviously don’t), they would make Donald the face of the franchise and the centerpiece of their marketing campaign.
Instead, the Rams refused to pay Donald his market value, so Donald did the only thing he could do. He missed training camp and didn’t show up until last week — just in time to collect his regular-season paychecks. He’s getting paid just $1.8 million in base salary, making him the 33rd highest-paid defensive tackle.
Donald wants to be the highest-paid defensive lineman in the league, which is reasonable.
Spotrac.com, which tracts the salary of every player in the league, estimates Donald’s market value at $19 million a year and says he should get a new deal at six years for $116 million.
That would top Ndamukong Suh at $114.4 for six years and Von Miller at $114 for six years.
Actually, they should pay Donald $120 million and advertise him as The $20 Million Man.
Instead, the Rams are using the leverage they got in the 2011 bargaining agreement that ties first-round players to their teams for five years. He signed a four-year deal, and the Rams have picked up his option next year at $6.8 million. They can then franchise him for two more years.
I found it interesting that Adam Schein of NFL.com recently wrote a column saying they should pay Donald and added that he wanted to write it in July, but his editor nixed it. The editor felt the Rams would certainly pay Donald. He didn’t realize what a bumbling franchise the Rams are.
If the Rams were a normal franchise and a good team, I wouldn’t bang the drum saying they should pay Donald. If they want to play hardball, that’s their right.
But they’re in Los Angeles, and they’re trying to promote a team in Los Angeles.
Now the question is whether they will pay him next year or waste another year of not being able to promote him.
If they don’t pay him, Donald figures to hold out again next year.
If Kroenke doesn’t wake up or if somebody in his organization doesn’t convince him he’s making a mistake, the Rams will continue to be penny wise and pound foolish.