Friday, July 26, 2013

Irsay and Rosenbloom Trade Ownerships


On July 26, 1972, in a truly unprecedented move, Robert Irsay, the owner of the Baltimore Colts and Carroll Rosenbloom, the owner of the Los Angeles Rams, trade ownership of their NFL teams.

Rosenbloom wanted to retain ownership of a team while living in a more profitable city, one that would satisfy his wife's ambition to live on the west coast and his ambition to escape the D.C. press. Meanwhile, former Colts assistant Joe Thomas was itching to become the general manager of a franchise, but there weren't any offers. Then, when Rams owner Dan Reeves passed away, Thomas convinced his good friend Irsay to buy the Rams for $19 million – in exchange; Irsay would immediately become the owner of the Colts, then Rosenbloom the Rams'. Irsay, who was looking to become an NFL owner anyway, also received an additional three million dollars in the transaction, while Thomas was rewarded with the general manager position of the Baltimore Colts.

Today, a swap like this would be impossible to pull off. Not only are even the lowliest of sports teams worth hundreds of millions of dollars, many of the teams are now owned by corporations and a group of people, rather than just one wealthy individual.

In the end, football fans in both Baltimore and Los Angeles wound up getting screwed. The Colts failed to win a single playoff game under Irsay and eventually moved to Indianapolis. L.A. fans were initially on the much better end of the spectrum, as the Rams made the postseason in every year that Rosenbloom was their owner. But in 1979, Carroll mysteriously drowned to death while swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, and control of the team was handed over to his wife, Georgia Frontiere. Georgia then moved the team to Anaheim, married her seventh husband, and in the mid-90's, she moved the Rams out of California altogether and to St. Louis, Missouri.

However, the franchises involved in the deal and the cities where the teams played would end up winning Super Bowl anyways.

Los Angeles would be the first city of the bunch to win a Super Bowl; in 1984 the Raiders beat the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII (28), 38-9.

The St. Louis Rams and the Baltimore Ravens would both win Super Bowls in the early 2000’s as the Rams beat the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV (34), 23-16. Finally the Ravens beat the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV (35), 34-7.

The Colts who moved to Indianapolis in 1984 would win the Super Bowl in the late 2000’s against the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI (41) 29-17.