Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke reportedly angered other NFL owners after informing them he no longer wanted to pay legal fees associated with the Rams’ move from St. Louis, according to Seth Wickersham of ESPN.
Kroenke brought up the issue at the owners’ meeting Tuesday. Other than Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, none of the other owners took the news well.
When the Rams agreed to move from St. Louis to Los Angeles for the 2016 NFL season, Kroenke agreed to cover legal fees involved in the relocation. Those bills have stacked up, as the NFL has lost multiple motions to the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex authority, which filed suit against the Rams and other teams alleging the Rams broke relocation guidelines.
All 32 teams have been involved in the case, resulting in legal fees. As part of an agreement signed by Kroenke, he has covered those fees.
But at Tuesday’s meeting, Kroenke reportedly tried to get out of paying the fees associated with the team’s relocation, angering other NFL owners.
Jerry Jones backs Stan Kroenke in legal fee battle
Kroenke was asked to leave the room for the conversation so other owners could speak openly about their stances. The only owner who took Kroenke’s side was Jones, according to the report. Jones said Kroenke has done a lot for the NFL, and praised Kroenke for getting a $6 billion stadium built in Los Angeles.
Mark Davis, Robert Kraft and John Mara all offered counterpoints to Kroenke backing out of the promise to pay fees. Of that group, Mara made the most passionate comments, saying the owners would not have approved the relocation if Kroenke had not agreed to cover all the legal fees. Mara reiterated that point when things became contentious later in the meeting.
Jones and NFL general counsel Jeff Pash discussed whether Kroenke tried to settle the lawsuit. Pash said Kroenke tried to settle, but to no avail. Jones reportedly told the group Kroenke paid over $1 billion in legal fees. Pash did not reveal the actual number, but reportedly told owners Kroenke paid more than the net worth of some other owners in the room, according to ESPN.
When Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay suggested Kroenke return to the room to answer questions, Jones reportedly said Kroenke shouldn’t speak to the owners without a lawyer present. Jones also allegedly indicated Kroenke could sue the league over the issue.
It’s unclear where the issue stands Wednesday. Both the NFL and the Rams declined comment to ESPN.
The Rams’ lawsuit with the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex authority is still ongoing and expected to go to trial in January.