Just A Girl….That Loves Football
Kasey McKnelly, Writer
Hey Falcon Fans!! My name is Kasey and I LOVE football. Football has been a life-long passion of mine. I remember watching football with my grandfather as a child and back then, I will admit, I wanted to watch anything but football; but in my house it was sports all the time. The older that I got the more I looked forward to the football games with grandpa. I didn’t grow up having a particular favorite team. I was always watching all teams and admiring talent.
The first team that I remember being a loyal fan of was the Miami Dolphins in 1983. I knew nothing about the team, but I knew that they acquired this familiar name, Dan Marino and I immediately was a fan. I watched him every week, knew all the stats and rocked Marino gear relentlessly. I still have my very first #13 jersey. I watched them week in and week out for 17 seasons. I was sad to see him leave the game but I had realized a few years earlier that I might not be a Miami Dolphins fans, I was actually a Dan Marino fan. Marino leaving the game was emotional because in my eyes he never got the glory, he never got a ring but I had found REAL football love.
I was in college in 1995 when St Louis was finally getting a football team. I had no idea what kind of ride I was in for. I was young and really inexperienced with life and living. I had no idea what a PSL was or how to navigate this whole big world of NFL football. I went to the events, welcomed the Rams to St. Louis and bought tickets to the first St. Louis Ram’s game. The “dome” was not yet built and the Rams would play at Busch Stadium. The inaugural game, September 10, 1995 the St Louis Rams v. New Orleans Saints ignited something in me that remained until January 13, 2016. These particular days will always be days that marked my soul but for many different reasons.
As I sat in my seat at Busch Stadium and watched MY team play I was in awe, I finally lived in a city that had its own football. I was watching Jerome Bettis play!! I watched players come and go and in the beginning I didn’t think too much about it; not like I do now when my favorite player no longer are on MY roster. I was a part of the Greatest Show on Turf era, and by this time I had my PSL…I was a full partner and had my own seat and made friends with the people in my section on Sundays.
I witnessed up close and personal the Bob and Weave, the introduction of Marshall Faulk to St Louis to be a target for hometown QB Trent Green. Well, Green went down with the dreaded ACL injury and we were left with the “backup.” This guy really had minimal experience, he played some arena ball but for a moment I did not have a good feeling. Who is this guy? Reports say that he was stocking shelves at a grocery store in Iowa. He was older than most “new” QB’s…could we be in trouble?? This guy’s name is Kurt Warner and he had a vision and a mission. We finished the season at 13-3. It was on January 30, 2000 that I entered the Georgia Dome for the first time and it was also that day that I witnessed my team defeat the Tennessee Titans to become in fact the greatest team in football. So much irony in that game. Jeff Fisher was the Head Coach of the opposing team and this team had recently departed from their home city in Houston. I have to say back then I had no idea what that meant, except that a team had moved….no big deal, RIGHT?
That win had the whole city on the highest high. Nelly was making chart topping music for St Louis and the Rams were Super Bowl Champs. The Rams had a few more good seasons and made another run at a Super Bowl (which we lost to a team from somewhere in MA). The team took some hits with player trades, etc. and didn’t have a winning season after that. It was at this time that I developed the personal attachment to the members of the team and coaching staff.
I quickly learned the business of football and the bottom-line (money). I know that there has been A LOT said about St Louis and the fans. I can assure you that St Louis does and always has had LOYAL and faithful fans. I continued to have my PSL until the end. In fact the last few seasons my seat was Sec 113 Row 1. I had finally made it. I was sitting on the 50 yard line behind the Rams sideline. I sat just by the printer and often had conversations with the players and staff. You see, after 20 years, you get to know people. I was part of the Lady Rams organization, attended events both for fun and charity. I NEVER missed a home game and made my fair share of road trips to support the team, regardless of the win/loss record.
There are many fans with the same passion for the team as I had. Those stories didn’t get told in the media, only that we are not a football town and that we don’t support the team. The “irony” that I spoke of earlier is that Jeff Fisher was the head coach of the team we beat in Super Bowl XXXIV, he was the coach that “successfully” moved the Titans from the original city of Houston and he was the coach that “successfully” moved the Rams from St Louis to LA. I will never forget where I was when I got the news that it was about to be released that the owners (at the owners meeting in Texas) had just voted to allow the Rams to re-locate. I was taken completely by surprise.
Many question me when I say that because how can I be so close to the team and not have seen this coming?? My answer to that is, I believe people when they tell me something. I believe that people are good and should be taken at their word. I PERSONALLY heard Kevin Demoff, GM of the St Louis Rams say “we are doing everything we can to keep the Rams in St Louis”, he went on to say that if the NFL is given a viable stadium idea the Rams would stay. Well, the NFL was provided with a “viable” stadium idea and they left.
Let me clarify a very important point. I understand business! I would have been equally as devastated about the Rams leaving but not bitter if the NFL and the Rams ownership and Front Office would have just be HONEST and transparent. Just tell the fans and the city that from a business perspective it makes more sense to move the team back to LA. The deception in the whole situation was the part that erupted. The NFL pitted 2 cities against each other and seemed to like that scenario, any press is good press. My heart broke, literally as I watched the banners being removed from the Dome and the trucks pulling away from Rams Park. I spent 20 summers watching my team in training camp in Macomb, IL and Earth City, MO.
I have some of the best memories of my life from Rams training camps. Needless to say, I didn’t watch football in 2016. I would catch highlights but my emotions wouldn’t allow me to watch. I tried!! It was too painful, like a death or a divorce. I needed time to heal. I still don’t have a “favorite” team. I like to call myself a “FREE AGENT,” looking for a home. I guess, as I reflect, I am really just the same girl that I started out as, a football fan watching football talent.
As I write this today, the LA Rams have a young new Head Coach and a majority of the players that I knew and loved from St Louis are no longer part of the roster, some have retired, moved on to other teams or currently Free Agents themselves. I personally watch the teams that each one of them play for now and talents like how I began. I can’t wait to continue this journey and see where I land. I have my eye on a Falcon that started at Rams Training Camp a couple of years ago….I see you Martin Ifedi.
To tie all of this together, while I am following my guy Ifedi, I may as well follow this other “talent,” Julio Jones, maybe you have heard of him. And since my first Super Bowl was in the Georgia Dome…..might as well follow the team that will host Super Bowl LIII in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Be sure to follow on Twitter @CMCKnelly and Instagram Kasey.McKnelly to keep up with everything going on in the NFL and FalconAlleyFootball.
Now…..Let’s get ready for some football….