Did NFL drop ball by not flexing Los Angeles Rams for Week 12?

(Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images) /

Rams fans up in arms as NFL drops the ball on Sunday Night Football in Week 12, but should they first look in the mirror?

Is it me or are the Los Angeles Rams impressing everyone but the folks east of St. Louis? Certainly felt that way Tuesday as both the network NBC and the NFL passed on taking advantage of an opportunity to help boost the team with the second-largest media market in the league.

Tuesday was the last day the NFL had to utilize the “flex rule” allowing their Week 12 matchup against the New Orleans Saints to be moved to primetime. Instead, the league simply shifted the start time twenty minutes later locally and changed channels. Not only did they move the Sunday afternoon contest from 1:05 p.m. to 1:25 p.m., but they also made the switch from FOX to CBS.

The Rams have not been televised nationally on Sunday night since returning to Los Angeles. In hindsight, that fact alone sets off alarm bells because the Rams had yet to earn a national spot. Being the first game played at home by a team returning to the city it moved from should not be reason enough. Throw in the fact that the then-equally-bad or lesser performing San Francisco 49ers were the opponent and you really began to wonder why now? Now that the Rams franchise has earned nearly every right to go national, the powers that be fumbled away a potential interest blowout in terms of the alternative.

Really, who outside of Wisconsin, wants to see Green Bay play these days?

Let me rephrase that. Who would rather see a beaten and battered team on the downswing more than two of the highest-scoring [and possibly 9-2] teams in the NFL on a collision course? A game with highly valid playoffs implications no less. Commissioner? Anybody?

Yes, there are other factors in a decision this big to the NFL. Click on your favorite search engine to read articles about them by the dozens. What I want to bring to light are the very possible other reasons you won’t read about or hear in words from the horse’s mouth. Let’s face it, like many other things in life, you can bet there are politics involved.

Hometown denial aside, here are three brief possibilities we might’ve heard discussed had we been the proverbial fly on the wall:

  • It’s unlikely to be admitted publicly, but Californians realize there has long been an East Coast media bias that exists. With this in mind, it’s highly likely that disappointing the loyal markets up and down Eastern shores that would rather support Pittsburgh (even Green Bay) would take a near-catastrophe.
  • Or ask yourself this, fellow Rams fans. How many people calling themselves Rams fans do you know in Los Angeles that have yet to fully buy in on the team’s newfound success? I myself, co-administrator of a popular Los Angeles Rams online social group, am currently witnessing an astounding surge in membership in the past two weeks alone unmatched by the first four weeks of pre and regular season combined. And that’s just one of several groups. So the possibility that the NFL as a whole is not sold either becomes very real. After all, the Rams are heading into the most difficult part of their schedule. The league, like many Rams fans holding onto the past, can still be wondering if failure is inevitable?
  • Last but certainly not least is a related question. Could the NFL be punishing fans in Los Angeles for the perceived lack of interest?

I’ll elaborate.

Unfortunately for Los Angeles, the Rams-Saints game is a home game.

At the opening of Week 10’s broadcast of the Rams-Texans, what was glaringly noticeable was the scenery behind the announcers. Mainly, too many empty seats at the start of the game. Not good marketing. If you were a car dealer you wouldn’t shoot a commercial with a lot half-full of cars. So why then should the NFL be expected to go national with a lot full of B-list cars only now starting to sell? Sure, their regularly-scheduled games sometimes are boring. But we’re talking choice when speaking of the flex rule, aren’t we?

Personally, I believe that if this same game was in the city of New Orleans, it would be televised nationally. But seeing their perspective, it’s not personal, it’s business. And on the business end, all the hype surrounding the Rams and empty home game seats is a slap in the face. The media milking it for all it’s worth all season long is not helping.

Related Story: 3 storylines for Rams at Vikings in Week 11

Understandable that every fan can’t make it to every game for whatever the reason. In this case, turn your television on. Tune it in to the channel broadcasting the Rams, even if you can’t watch it. Bug relatives and neighbors to do the same. Better still, if you have corporate connections, use them to get those remaining tickets sold and donated. In a spread out southern California, a lot of people would like to go but simply can’t juggle finances. Whatever it takes, Rams fans, help your own cause. Besides it’s quite obvious that they’re not doing us the favors of a year ago.