By Mary Beard
Special to Stlouisrams.com
If you cook it, they will come. This rang true for the 11th Annual Taste of the NFL when a record breaking crowd came out to sample local cuisine and meet their favorite Rams players all while giving back to two great local causes: the St. Louis Foodbank and the St. Louis Sports Commission.
Rams general manager Les Snead and his wife Kara emceed the evening while attendants noshed on dishes prepared by some of St. Louis’ greatest restaurants including Pastaria, The Cup, Pappy’s and Iron Barely among many others. There was also a silent auction throughout the evening where guests could bid on great sports memorabilia and ticket packages. Guitarist Tim Session entertained the crowd with his acoustic rendition of various pop and contemporary hits while Rams players, cheerleaders and mascot Rampage mingled with the crowd.
“The whole roster is here and that means so much for us organizationally, that all of the Rams are in,” Solomon Alexander of the St. Louis Sports Commission said. “It’s a team effort. You hear all the time that football is the ultimate team sport, well it takes a team effort outside of football as well and we’re just really happy to have everyone here.”
The fact that the event took place on a Monday night following a Sunday home game didn’t deter players from jumping at the chance to get out and meet with fans for a good cause.
“I sat down with our trainer today and went over the guys who are injured from yesterday’s ball game and said, ‘okay they don’t have to go’,” said general manager Les Snead. “Then a couple of guys came to my office and said ‘hey, I appreciate you letting me off the hook, but I really want to go’. So that just shows you that it’s not the invite from the general manager, but the intangibles and the character in that locker room.”
“We really appreciate the Rams players coming,” said Frank Finnegan, President and CEO, St. Louis Foodbank. “I know they played yesterday and they’ve got to be bruised and tired and yet here they are spending their Monday night with us so we couldn’t be happier.”
Proceeds from the night went toward the St. Louis Area Foodbank and the St. Louis Sports Commission. Each year, the Foodbank gathers and distributes more than 30 million pounds of food to shelters, soup kitchens, food pantries and emergency feeding programs throughout eastern Missouri and southwestern Illinois. The St. Louis Sports Commission implements programs that enrich the lives of area children. More than 5,000 area coaches and parents participate in sportsmanship initiative programming through the St. Louis Sports Commission to positively impact the lives of more than 10,000 children in the St. Louis region.
“It’s always great to meet the fans one-on-one, they get to see us as more than just a player and can put a face to a name,” said Rams offensive lineman