Some people who know Albert Pujols tell me that he’s had a winter of second thoughts about his decision to sign the deal with the Angels. And, that there have been some tears during conversations about leaving St.Louis. I’ve also been told that he and his family will likely move to Kansas City because he is uncomfortable in St. Louis.
So many fans here resent his decision. Even when it comes to food. Business at Pujols 5 restaurant fell off so dramatically after he decided to leave the Cardinals, the owners decided to change the name to the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame Bar and Grill. Albert didn’t own the restaurant, but apparently many St. Louis fans thought he did. Now comes word that Pujols is unhappy with the marketing campaign of the Angels.
Billboards in the Los Angeles area show Pujols wearing his number five calling him “El Hombre.” While he was in St. Louis he asked the media not to use that nickname in deference the Cardinals legend Stan “The Man” Musial. Pujols always showed great respect for Musial. Had Albert played his entire career with the Cardinals, he would have been compared with Musial and likely revered as much by younger fans who didn’t see Musial play. The Angels replied that the nickname is on about 20 of the 70 Angels billboards in the LA area.
While it’s not the case here in St. Louis where baseball is king, there is no disputing that the National Football League is the most popular pro sport in America. It’s not even close if you judge it by television ratings. More than 111 million people watched at least part of the Super Bowl.
But there are some warning signs, if you believe pro football hall of famer Troy Aikman. His career was cut short like many NFL players because of concussions. There’s a growing concern about long term injury factor for players in pro football that could result in some massive lawsuits in the future that could impact the economics of the league. That may sound far fetched but a number of older players are already suing the league because life changing injuries.
“What is the game going to look like 20 years from now?” he asked. If the league doesn’t do something the rein in the number of concussions, Aikman wonders if intelligent athletes will want to continue playing the game. It is worth a few years of football and big money to ruin your health and maybe your life? The other aspect that Aikman is concerned about is over saturation. Television. NFL on TV used to be an event. Sunday afternoons and the always popular Monday Night Football. But now there’s games not only on Sunday and Monday, but Sunday night and Thursday and Saturday as well. It is no longer special to have the NFL on TV. It might as well be on every day.
He also added, which is interesting considering the Rams and Los Angeles rumor, that LA has been without a team since 1995 and “doesn’t seem to miss it.” That, according to Aikman, is evidence that the NFL isn’t a must in peoples lives. St. Louis was without the NFL the Football Cardinals left for Arizona until the Rams moved here and we survived. St. Louis might be tested again to live without pro football in a few years.
JEREMY LIN. Enough already. ESPN take a breath. He hasn’t even played 20 games for the Knicks. The cover of Sports Illustrated? Enough already.