SCHAUMBURG, Ill. -- Were it not for the last-minute interference of Stan Kroenke, perhaps Tuesday's owners meetings here might never have happened. In fact, it almost certainly wouldn't have.
The year was 2010 and the St. Louis Rams were for sale. A wealthy businessman from central Illinois by the name of Shahid Khan had entered into a purchase agreement to buy the majority stake in the Rams from Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez. The only possible snag on Khan's road to owning the team was a clause in the deal Kroenke signed when he became minority owner of the team that allowed him matching rights to the team before it could be sold to an outside investor.
Kroenke took his time making his decision public but announced on the final day that he was exercising his options and matching Khan's offer. Khan, who had openly discussed his love of St. Louis and making professional football work in the market, was left with nothing.
As it turned out, Khan would wind up purchasing the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011 and everyone was happy. Until now.
With Kroenke pursuing an extravagant stadium plan in Inglewood, California, that would presumably include a plan to relocate the Rams to Los Angeles, it's fair for fans in St. Louis to wonder how things would be different if Khan were in charge.
I asked Khan whether he ever thinks about that, especially when he's at meetings like Tuesday's and sees the future of pro football in St. Louis in peril.
"You know, you have got to move on," Khan said. "For me, that wasn’t the first choice for me but what happened is great and it’s really a privilege to be part of the NFL. So I just hope the right thing gets done."
Khan now spends most of his time in Florida and overseas rather than his old stomping grounds in Urbana, Illinois, but he says he has kept tabs on what's happening in St. Louis. He said he's impressed with the work of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and his task force, led by Dave Peacock.
"I think St. Louis is doing all of the right things for St. Louis," Khan said. "They ought to keep on doing what they're doing. They do that, I think it’s great for NFL fans in St. Louis."
In talking to Khan, it was easy to get the feeling that even though he's no longer involved with the Rams or the city, he'd like to see St. Louis succeed as a football market. That doesn't necessarily mean Khan's Jaguars would be in play for a move to St. Louis in a half-dozen or so years when they could be examining stadium options.
In fact, Khan has invested heavily in the stadium in Jacksonville and seems determined to make that market work even though his team has made playing a game in London an annual tradition.
As for where he stands on the current situation in Los Angeles, St. Louis, Oakland and San Diego, Khan is focused on the long game. He was part of the ownership group that received the update Tuesday but instead of viewing it as a step closer to a conclusion, he believes it's the unofficial beginning of the race to Los Angeles.
"I think really this is really the start of the process right now," Khan said. "I think the timing, probably January is when you are looking at something. There’s a lot of twists and turns before now and January."