St. Louis has not had an NFL team since the Rams moved back to Los Angeles at the end of the 2015 season. The city has had two NFL franchises with the Cardinals playing in St. Louis from 1960-1989 and the Rams from 1995-2015, but poor stadium situations and subpar play led to both organizations choosing to move elsewhere.
My formative years of football fandom were in the late 90s and early 00s when the St. Louis Rams played one of the most exciting brands of football in the league. Led by Kurt Warner, Issac Bruce, and Marshall Faulk the Rams were dubbed, “The Greatest Show on Turf,” and absolutely mauled my Vikings in the 1999 playoffs.
In this article, we’ll look at the (mostly) bleak history of football in St. Louis outside of that brief run by the Rams. While St. Louis football fans will probably have to wait a while before they get another team, they can at least take solace in that 1999 Super Bowl title.
- St. Louis has not had a football team since the Rams moved back to Los Angeles in 2015.
- In addition to the Rams, the Cardinals franchise spent almost thirty years in St. Louis before moving to Arizona in 1989.
- The city has seen one Super Bowl title when the Rams defeated the Tennessee Titans in 1999.
Professional football arrived in St. Louis for the first time in 1960. Tired of competing with the Bears for interest in the Windy City, the Chicago Cardinals moved to St. Louis. Of course, St. Louis already had a baseball team named the Cardinals, so to avoid confusion, the “football Cardinals” were commonly known as “Big Red.” 
But the club struggled to maintain relevance outside of two successful seasons in 1974 and 1975 which both ended in early playoff exits. 
Meanwhile, the baseball Cardinals were a title contender for much of the 80s, drawing interest from the mediocre football club. Sick of losing, poor attendance, and a mediocre stadium, owner Bill Bidwell moved the team to Arizona in 1989. 
The Ghost Stallions
After the departure of the Cardinals, St. Louis quickly began petitioning the NFL for another franchise. Plans were soon drawn up for a new state-of-the-art stadium for a prospective expansion team or a current team that may be looking to move to a new city. Confident that a new team would be arriving soon, the city began construction on the stadium in 1992.
With the NFL poised to expand in the mid-90s, St. Louis remained confident that the “Stallions” would soon become a reality and the 32nd NFL franchise. But the St. Louis’ bid was denied with the NFL selecting Charlotte and Jacksonville instead. Devastated, piles of “Stallion” jerseys and hats found their way to landfills. With the NFL now at 32 teams, further expansion seemed unlikely. Was St. Louis doomed to remain without an NFL team?
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The Rams and the Greatest Show on Turf
But just a few years later, the struggling Los Angeles Rams began to consider relocation. With low attendance and a team that had failed to maintain the success they’d enjoyed in the 70s and 80s, St. Louis and their fancy new domed stadium started to look appealing. The Rams made the move official in 1995, moving the franchise after decades in Los Angeles. 
The club remained mediocre until 1999 when a little-known quarterback named Kurt Warner took over for the injured Trent Green. Along with superstar wide receivers Issac Bruce and Torry Holt, “The Greatest Show on Turf” was born, setting the record for points scored in a season. 
Despite having the 28th-best odds of winning the Super Bowl, the Rams defied the odds winning 13 games and defeating the Titans in the championship 23-16. 
Over the next five seasons, the Rams returned to the playoffs four teams, including a Super Bowl defeat to a young quarterback by the name of Tom Brady.
But the Rams soon fell back into obscurity and the losing seasons began to pile up culminating in a 1-15 season in 2009, and Stan Kroenke took over controlling ownership shortly after the 2009 season. With his Los Angeles ties and the state-of-the-art stadium falling into disrepair, rumors began to swirl that the team may once again be on the move. 
When St. Louis failed to match Kroenke’s proposed 80,000-seat stadium in Inglewood, California, the Rams packed up and left after the 2015 season, once again putting an end to professional football in St. Louis. 
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As much heartbreak as they’ve given me, I can’t imagine the Vikings ever leaving Minnesota, and I feel for the diehard St. Louis sports fan that has watched two franchises leave the city in less than 30 years. How would you feel if your team moved? Would you still cheer for them or transfer your fandom somewhere else? Let us know in the comments below.